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84 Responses

  1. maggie
    maggie September 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm |

    If ONLY I could trade these suckers in for something more manageable.

  2. Sophia
    Sophia September 2, 2010 at 3:16 pm |

    “Many will probably also take issue with the link of breast size to weight. While there is a correlation between weight and breast size, large breasts are not necessarily and indicator of “ballooning” weight.”

    Yes, and small breasts aren’t necessarily an indicator that one is skinny. Yet right at the beginning of this piece the OP very clearly says, “Small-breasted woman are almost universally small in other ways, and it would be hard to say that skinny women are marginalized.” It is simply disingenuous to state that everyone has body image issues and that you don’t aim to minimize anyone’s experience when you repeatedly state that it is odd that people would consider small-breasted women marginalized.

    While I have never felt particularly marginalized for having small breasts, and would never wish to have them bigger, it’s silly to not acknowledge that large breasts are considered conventionally attractive.

    Would it be nice if the article focused more on the diversity of breast sizes rather than on one end of the spectrum? Sure. But that in and of itself does not make it a problematic article. A piece can focus on a single aspect of an issue and still be informative.

  3. Mandolin
    Mandolin September 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm |

    My mother has K-cup breasts. She wore DDD all her life; she never had a bra that fit. Not when she was thin; not when she was fat. Now at least she can get something that fits her.

    While I agree with Sophia’s note that people can be small-breasted, but not skinny (although are those the people that the article is lauding?), and that this represents a flaw in the OP, I hope that she’s not overlooking the suggestion made by the line about “brandishing” that small breasts are being posed as a good thing because they are the antithesis of being fatty fat fat.

  4. Mandolin
    Mandolin September 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm |

    My mother has K-cup breasts. She wore DDD all her life; she never had a bra that fit. Not when she was thin; not when she was fat. Now at least she can get something that fits her.

    While I agree with Sophia’s note that people can be small-breasted, but not skinny (although are those the people that the article is lauding?), and that this represents a flaw in the OP, I hope that she’s not overlooking the suggestion made by the line about “brandishing” that small breasts are being posed as a good thing because they are the antithesis of being fatty fat fat.

  5. Alison
    Alison September 2, 2010 at 3:29 pm |

    Small-breasted woman are almost universally small in other ways, and it would be hard to say that skinny women are marginalized.

    As a small-breasted woman with a considerably larger lower-half, I’ve spent most of my life feeling extremely insecure about being “unbalanced” (as many have called me, including well-meaning family) and have had many people, including store clerks, advise me to wear padded bras and such to try and make up for my natural “deficiencies.” Although I know, intellectually, that there are plenty of “pear-shaped” women in the world, I’ve often been made to feel like a mismatched weirdo.

    So while I appreciate the overall point you’re making with your post, that particular generalization might not have been the most helpful one to include. It’s odd to read an entry on a feminist blog that casually dismisses the existence of my not-at-all-uncommon body type.

  6. Nikki
    Nikki September 2, 2010 at 3:30 pm |

    Sophia, I agree. I am a small breasted woman who used to weigh 275 pounds. My breat size has never fluctuated with my weight. They have always been small. And I feel marginalized every time I try to find a bra that fits and is not padded. The lack of non-padded options is stating loud and clear that there is something wrong with my body that needs to be corrected and of course I must want them to be bigger because what kind of crazy freak would want to walk around with tiny little breasts.

    There is a lot of “positive” reinforcement in our culture for large breasts. I don’t see what’s wrong with giving the A- cups a little love.

  7. kmcakes
    kmcakes September 2, 2010 at 3:44 pm |

    Kay, I really dislike your take on this article. As someone who has a 32A cup and who has faced a lot of harassment for not having “acceptable” sized breasts, I’m frankly more than glad for the article you are criticizing. If you wanted to criticize the article for not mentioning that women with DD breasts often have health concerns that aren’t taken seriously by larger culture, I would agree with you. If you wanted to say that it should be mentioned that young girls who develop large breasts early and face harassment, totally with you. But frankly I do not see a culture that mocks women with large breasts. My friends with B, C and D cups have simply not faced the kind of discrimination and harassment that I have and have never had their lovers (and strangers) tell them they should consider implants. I applaud this article and for women like me, it is a welcome breath of fresh air. We should be working on acceptance for all body types, but small breasted women are marginalized more often and I have no problem with the fact that the author decided to devote a little special attention to us.

  8. Lasciel
    Lasciel September 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm |

    But the problem Sophia, is that large breasts aren’t (considered conventionally attractive). they’re considered attractive only when paired with a certain body proportion (that is, the breasts being large in proportion to one’s other parts and general shape, with the preference being generally slim+large breasts or a natural hourglass figure. Which just doesn’t commonly occur naturally)

    But I do agree that people can be overweight and have small breasts, especially if you’re taking into account body proportions. But I would think people keeping AA cups and being fat is pretty uncommon. And the NYT articles has pictures of small-breasted women in it… and they’re all pretty thin.

    As far as I can see though, society does not make things especially hard for small-breasted women. I’ve found tiny bras more often than I’ve found G cup ones in stores, and most clothes are designed for bodies with small breasts. And if you take into account bra design….

    All those cute little bras with stripes and bows and frills… come in A cups. B cups. Sometimes C cups. Once you’re past the D range it’s kinda beige for you unless you’re a millionaire. Let’s not even get started on sports bras…

    Even the article concedes that small breasts tend to come with less back pain, movement, sagging.

  9. maggie
    maggie September 2, 2010 at 4:21 pm |

    kmcakes — It’s not all sunshine and roses when you have larger breasts. I’ve ended up feeling like that’s the most important part of me. I’m just something to hang the rack on.

    Not to try and outdo you, because I know small-breasted women get hell for it, but neither of us can win. No one can win.

  10. bethB
    bethB September 2, 2010 at 4:24 pm |

    I agree with what a lot of other commenters have said already: just because you have small breasts does not mean you have a small waist (or hips, or butt, or anything). My feeling of being “disproportionate” leads me to have a very unhealthy view of my natural curves (around my tummy and hips) because it “unbalances” me and often causes me to engage in behaviors that are not particularly helpful (“I can’t eat this, I’ll gain two pounds, it’ll make my gut stick out even more, and I’ll look even stranger!” for example).
    That being said, in general the dominant cultural presentation of breasts mildy fucks up ALL of us… “too big,” “too small,” “too saggy,” “weird nipples”… the list of inadequacies goes on and on and on. I don’t know WHO finds great-fitting bras without too much padding (that’s my issue, but substitute your own here: under-wire or straps that dig or not sized right or whatever), simply because we are trying to shape ourselves and mold a piece of our body into some sort of separate object(s) to enhance our sexual, feminine image. And it’s bullshit, all around, and we need to sort of do the Body Loud & Proud thing, claim it back for all us misfits, no matter in what way we don’t fit the norm. And let’s not ever be surprised to find the NYT needing be challenged (or not automatically getting it).

  11. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni September 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm |

    @ Nikki – my breasts also stay exactly the same size no matter what I weight, but I’m at the other end of the spectrum. Finding DD or E-cup anything is hard, especially (almost surprisingly so) with larger backband sizes.

    @kmcakes – I’ve been harassed and mocked all my life for having large breasts. As an 8 year old with C cups people seemed to feel entitled to actually *touch* them, I was leered at by older men, catcalled, and several people told me to “Stop messing around, and get those things out of there” assuming that I’d stuffed my bra. I was told by women old enough to be my mother that “They’re not real boobs, it’s just that you’re soooo fat” and it caused a lifetime of disordered eating and body shame.

    @lasciel – I’m fortunate enough to live in the UK, where the plus-size clothing store Evans sells some absolutely divine lingerie, at pretty reasonable prices. They used to sell disgustingly-utilitarian ‘things’ at horrific markups, but finally realised that people with big boobs, or fat people, like frills and lace sometimes as well. Their sizes go from 38B-50H. Here are some of the sets available: http://tinyurl.com/prettybras

    The only problem is that even their largest size bras are padded. Sometimes I feel like I’m wearing basketballs on my chest because of the padding. At 46DD or 46EE (depending on where I am in my menstrual cycle) I don’t need any extra ‘help’.

  12. fannie
    fannie September 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm |

    I also feel that Kay has minimized the experiences of small-breasted women or, at least, that this post has a problematic Oppression Olympics theme to it. Even though many small-breasted women are skinny, and thus are aren’t marginalized in the way that fat women are, small-breasted women still experience marginalization because they don’t live up to the Ideal Hourglass Lady Body Type. I won’t recount my experiences publicly here, but because of my breast size I will say that I’ve never felt as though my body type is the womanly “ideal” even though I’m thin.

    I agree that it would be nice if the mainstream media tackled issues about large breasts as well, but does that have to happen in an article specifically about woman who have small breasts?

    The bigger take-away from many mainstream articles about women’s bodies is that, basically, if you’re a woman and you have a body, you can’t fucking win. Minimizing what small-breasted women experience and implying that a conversation about these experiences cannot happen without also simultaneously talking about large-breasted women seems to be unnecessary to rendering your valid critique about the lack of articles about large-breasted women’s experiences.

  13. kmcakes
    kmcakes September 2, 2010 at 4:44 pm |

    @Maggie I totally hear you. I didn’t mean to suggest that it is easy for women with larger breasts. You’re absolutely right, nobody can win. I just mean I don’t think there is anything wrong with an article that focuses on people with small breasts because we are more often made to feel that something is wrong with our bodies because they aren’t big enough.

    @Paraxeni I also totally hear you. That’s why I said that if Kay was going to mention the special harassment that young girls get who develop large breasts (or even any at all), I would be in 100% agreement. Again, all I was trying to say was that I think Kay is really minimizing the kind of harassment and shame small breasted women experience for our entire lives; and there is nothing wrong with writing an article specifically addressed to women like me.

  14. roses
    roses September 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm |

    Kmcaekes – My friends with B, C and D cups have simply not faced the kind of discrimination and harassment that I have and have never had their lovers (and strangers) tell them they should consider implants. Well no, because B-D is the acceptable size range for women. Once you get outside that range – in either direction – is when the harassment and discrimination get bad. Large breasted women aren’t told to consider implants – we are told to consider reductions.

    I’m not trying to say large breasted women have it harder than small breasted women. I don’t think that’s true. Just that – once people see you as a freak they stop treating you as a person, and that can happen at either extreme.

  15. Shoshie
    Shoshie September 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm |

    Kay-
    I really liked this paragraph:

    “The next line: ‘Brandishing a tiny bosom may be a reaction to that trend.’ Um, reaction? Did breast size suddenly become matter of choice and not something related to your overall body size and genetic makeup (or willingness to undergo plastic surgery?). Women don’t just decide large breasts are so over and they’re going to trade in a D-cup for a AA-cup. ”

    I feel like that’s the whole point here. Though bodies go in and out of style, it’s not like we can actually change anything about our genetically given bodies!

    But I did think that you minimized the marginalization of women who have small breasts. And a one sentence disclaimer doesn’t get you off the hook for that.

    And, I was totally going to plug Elomi bras for women with large band size, but I see that they only go down to a size B. :( However, if they do come in your size, they are lovely (if expensive) bras, many of which are unpadded.

  16. Lisa
    Lisa September 2, 2010 at 5:16 pm |

    This is like that Playboy article or something not long ago, where they apparently (I didn’t read it, just about it) thought that women changed their breast shapes somehow to keep up with the fashions.

    The idea of having ‘trend’ pieces about BODY PARTS is creepy.

  17. Ellie d'Yckgirl
    Ellie d'Yckgirl September 2, 2010 at 5:35 pm |

    “Small-breasted woman are almost universally small in other ways”

    Well, I’d like to be “almost universal”…

    Though, given that the minimum cup I can find for a bra big enough for my chest size is C (thing is, I am doing A), I must acknowledge it’s true that bra makers almost universally don’t think I exist.

    Strangely for a so rare condition, I know a couple of women who has similar problems finding bras. Weeell, some of them are trans, though, so I guess that certainly doesn’t count in the “almost universal”…

    Okay, I guess it’s a snarky way of telling that I felt quite offended by this sentence…

  18. Zoe
    Zoe September 2, 2010 at 5:36 pm |

    Completely agree with the mismatch between “Victoria Secret’s heaving bosoms” and the fact that I am never guaranteed to find a bra that fits me in that store. I never would have guessed that a 38D is just on the edge of what that store will carry up to. Just my personal experience (which is only slightly related to the main topic).

    Good post.

  19. Nikki
    Nikki September 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm |

    I agree with the point in this piece that all bodies should be accepted and celebrated. However, I don’t believe that every marginalized body needs to be represented in every discussion of marginalized bodies. While the Times article didn’t do the best job of sussing out the intracacies of the marginalization of small breasted women it was nice for this small breasted woman to see some discussion of the topic. By equating small breasts with thinness you are disappearing women experiencing intersectional oppressions.

  20. Tori
    Tori September 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm |

    Large breasted women aren’t told to consider implants – we are told to consider reductions.

    Or we’re told we should Just. Lose. Weight.

    Because, you know, that’s totally easy, necessary, and 100% successful. :P

  21. ysabet
    ysabet September 2, 2010 at 6:23 pm |

    I often commiserate with some of my friends over the difficulty with finding a fitting bra. I’m about a 34-36F-G, depending on the make. I have friends who are about a 50A. Both of us find it just about impossible to find bras that fit, are comfortable, and actually look good.

    The message the industry sends is: if you aren’t standard, you don’t exist. And that’s a hard message for anyone to hear.

  22. Asinknits
    Asinknits September 2, 2010 at 6:28 pm |

    Once you are out of the normal range either way, things get tricky.

    I don’t really like the clothing industry – if a size is not common they don’t make enough money catering to that market, so those women who are that size can’t find the clothing they need. And sometimes even common sizes miss out on clothing because of body marginalization and shaming. This leads to frustration (and occasionally to making one’s own clothing because it’s easier than buying it!).

  23. Miss S
    Miss S September 2, 2010 at 6:30 pm |

    On the cover of magazines and on runways, small breasts are accepted. In most men’s magazines, women have large round breasts. Yes, this is indicative of what heterosexual men and their preferences. But growing up, I was far more influenced by this than the standard skinny, blue eyed blond hair ideal. I doubt I’m the only one.

    Loving your body when it’s not the ideal is a good thing. Accepting small breasts isn’t an insult to fat women; it’s an insult to the ridiculous beauty standards. I think some women forget that women are set up to fail when it comes to beauty ideals. Simply being small isn’t enough to reach the beauty ideal. You need a specific skin color, hair type, hair color, breast size and shape, butt, stomach, legs, etc. I’m curvy, short and somewhat petite and I don’t even come close to the stupid ass ‘beauty standard.’ I’m not curvy up top, but I have hips, thighs and ass so like Alison, I have also been called disproportioned.
    Also, I’m not sure where you got the idea that most small breasted women are small. They actually have a category called ‘pear shaped’ to refer to women who are curvier on the bottom.

    I won’t discount the stress of having large breasts because I see it first hand with my sister. But you’re post kind of implied that women with small breasts don’t really deserve an article to reclaim their body ideal because those women don’t have it as bad as others.

    I’m glad you pointed out that body parts should stop being referred to as trendy. I mean FFS are people supposed to buy body parts like shoes? Are they serious??

  24. piny
    piny September 2, 2010 at 6:31 pm |

    But I do agree that people can be overweight and have small breasts, especially if you’re taking into account body proportions. But I would think people keeping AA cups and being fat is pretty uncommon. And the NYT articles has pictures of small-breasted women in it… and they’re all pretty thin.

    …And the pictures accompanying the article are always representative, as feminist pop-culture critics well know.

    Is it that uncommon? One side of my family is big women with modest chests. I know that there are a ton of shell and padded bras available, just as there are heels for shoes, so smaller-chested women might not be visible as such. There’s also the issue of relative size, those pesky proportions; on a big frame, a B or C can read as smaller than average.

    There’s also the cultural attitude towards fat bodies to take into account. We don’t see fat people as individuals with diverse body shapes and diverse body concerns. We also have difficulty seeing any detail besides the OMGFAT. We clearly assume that fat means totally outsize. Confirmation bias probably takes care of the rest. We don’t want to look at fat women, so we don’t see what they actually look like.

  25. piny
    piny September 2, 2010 at 6:33 pm |

    This is like that Playboy article or something not long ago, where they apparently (I didn’t read it, just about it) thought that women changed their breast shapes somehow to keep up with the fashions.

    Yes. Breasts are actually inflatable. This is why you should never blow into a nipple: you can damage the valve permanently.

  26. bxley
    bxley September 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm |

    @Shoshie & Lisa: agreed! The bizarre idea that you chose your breast size also underlies a lot of people’s dismissals of harassment. “What do you expect when you put those things out there?” as if one could put them anywhere but in the general direction of out. Even small breasts are not internal organs.

    While I appreciate their intentions, and think it is awesome to help women accept their bodies and all their differently sized parts, articles like this ultimately sadden me. They’re proof of how far we’ve objectified this particular part of our body, how we think of them as something that is looked at rather than something attached to us, something that feeds us feelings. We group them with dyed hair and high heels instead of with clits and g-spots.
    My small band size and large cups are a hassle, and require both management and maintenance. But what ultimately matters about my tits is not that they make me feel good about myself, but that they make me feel good. period.

  27. Lauren O
    Lauren O September 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm |

    But I did think that you minimized the marginalization of women who have small breasts. And a one sentence disclaimer doesn’t get you off the hook for that.

    Agreed. My mom had a breast augmentation purely because she was ashamed to go out in public with her small breasts. Literally undergoing surgery to avoid shame about a body part indicates a pretty large stigma, and the number of women who get breast augmentations every year indicates that a lot of women are feeling that stigma. I could spend a long time detailing the various cruel things that have been said to me about my breasts (I inherited my mom’s size) throughout my life, including a friend slapping my breasts and asking if it even hurt.

    I’m not at all saying that large breasts don’t have any problems associated with them, but the NYT article was about a different topic. I think it’s unfair to ask that every article address problems across a universal spectrum. I have read plenty of articles and blog posts about the problems that go along with large breasts, and when I read them, I try to learn from them, not immediately jump in and say, “Well, what about MY suffering?”

  28. Alice
    Alice September 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm |

    I think I get what you’re saying in the post, though I also understand posters’ critiques. Now I should caution you to brace yourself for a long, rambly, personal account.

    I’m flat-chested, and skinny. I guess I should be considered lucky in this culture, but I get commented on all the time like I’m a museum exhibit. And I’m not talking about compliments. Mostly people going on and on about how -skinny- I look, how I need to eat more. (I am not anorexic, and my doctor is well aware of my weight and is not concerned).

    These people don’t think they’re being offensive at all, in fact, they’re usually someone who’s otherwise quite conscientious. They don’t see it the same as telling a girl to “eat less,” which is considered (rightfully) to be rude (regardless, I know that women are told just to “eat less” ALL THE TIME, by “concerned” friends, or even strangers, so I’m not trying to make the claim that somehow it’s not an important, prevalent issue). But telling me I need to eat more is socially acceptable, even among “polite, enlightened” people. Why? We’re taught skinny is a positive, popular thing. So it’s assumed a skinny person wouldn’t have body image issues, at least not concerning being -too- skinny. But trust me, after a few weeks of “concerned” acquaintances commenting on how little I am, asking if I’m anorexic, telling me to eat a hamburger etc., I look in the mirror and see a freakish skeleton, where there wasn’t one before.

    Being skinny, like being curvy, is not necessarily my choice. And it shouldn’t be a source of shame. It doesn’t seem to occur to some people that this is just how my body is. Telling me to “eat more” doesn’t help, it’s not as if I go “Oh gee, I never thought of that! Now that I have your permission to eat more food, I’ll have at it!”

    Anyways… maybe I shouldn’t be complaining, but I used to be comfortable with my body-type. After being poked fun of and “alerted” to my weight though, I feel like some kind of scarecrow-freak.

  29. Corinne
    Corinne September 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm |

    As another struggling-to-be-proud member of the itty bitty titty committee, I have to say that your take on this sounds like someone who’s never been told that her boobs were too small for her to ever be attractive.

    The “Real Women Have Curves”-type movement that has gotten a lot of momentum (and, in a lot of ways, rightly so) has done no favors for another perfectly legitimate genre of real women: those who do not have curves.

    You write off the plight of small-breasted women by saying that we are “almost universally small in other ways,” which I find far more offensive than the article in question. So because nature did not bless me with D-cups, I’m assumed to be waifishly thin to the point where you don’t have to worry about my Oh-my-God-I’m-too-fat-to-live episodes? It’s simply not true. Small-breasted women sometimes struggle with their weight: just like medium-breasted women, and just like large-breasted women. At least the Times article doesn’t make inappropriate generalizations about this particular group of people.

  30. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve September 2, 2010 at 8:21 pm |

    Inasmuch as small breasts are a choice, (i.e. whether or not to get plastic surgery,) then surely the acceptance of small breasts would be a good thing if it leads to less unnecessary surgery.

    The issue that the article seems to avoid is how women with large breasts tend in our culture to be sexualized, preferring to assume that because men like big boobs, then large breasted women were fortunate enough to be ‘fashionable.’ As if the fact that men tend to own clothing manufacturers has NOTHING to do with this.

  31. AdrienneVeg
    AdrienneVeg September 2, 2010 at 8:53 pm |

    Kay, I actually found your analysis to be more problematic than the original article. The Times article does quote another person implying that it’s better not to sag, but I found the author’s own words and analysis to be pretty even-handed and non-judgemental one way or the other. Your post comes across to me as further marginalizing small-breasted women. And no, a one line caveat (which I did not miss) doesn’t fix that.

    The part about “brandishing” small breasts as a “reaction” against societal pressures: I took the emphasis to be on the “brandishing,” not on the actual fact of having small breasts. I think the author meant that women who have small breasts are more willing to show them off and enjoy them as they are. This is pretty powerful to me, as a woman who has, at 25, has found one (ONE) bra ever that was meant for women that actually fits and is comfortable. I’ve been wearing that thing for 4 or 5 years (in situations where I need “nipple discretion”- otherwise I go braless). Otherwise I get to choose between a cotton tween thing with spongebob squarepants all over it or a wire-and-gel/water/air/padding contraption.

  32. piny
    piny September 2, 2010 at 9:36 pm |

    Large breasts aren’t fashionable if by fashionable you mean accomodated.

    Clothing styles may flatter breasty figures, in some aggregate aesthetic way, but you just try finding a blouse that will close over your sartorially maladapted dirtypillows, or a seamed top that won’t bisect your boobs. Women with large breasts are counselled by fashion experts to avoid clothing that plays up their rack, especially if they want to seem “professional” or “formal.” “Big chest” is a dress-for-your-shape problem, just like short legs and broad shoulders. It seems like breasts become too big at about the point they stop being too small.

    I agree that large breasts have been presented as an ideal–and that women with small breasts are taught to see them as a correctable problem, and that small breasts have their own share of nasty body myths. But the kind of positive attention we’re talking about comes with a lot of prodding, and it’s almost always really unpleasant.

  33. mayhex
    mayhex September 2, 2010 at 9:53 pm |

    As a small breasted lady, and an art student, I struggle daily with the representation of women as reduced to breasts. Stick figures, line drawings, sculptures and many other forms of representation suddenly become identifiable as woman by the inclusion of circles, curves, nipples or other allusions to boob-like forms.

    Case in point: the most recent copy of our student journal, dedicated to feminist issues and including only female contributors, had a pink cover and a large numeral three turned on its side to represent big breasts, slightly askew full stops completed the picture as nipples.

    My concern is, if women are reducible to their breasts, then what is a person without them? Or with breasts so tiny they wouldn’t register on a stick figure or silhouetted representation? I can’t identify with the curves, the circles, the overwhelming fleshiness of breasts as so often seen in art, that’s not my experience of being a woman.

    I know that I’m lucky to have small breasts, to be able to wear boob tubes and summer dresses without a bra, to not feel their weight, to skip pleasantly past being innappropiately oggled, and I’m aware that women with larger breasts experience a slew of awkward and unpleasant physical and social concerns. But I know about these because I’ve already seen the documentaries and read the articles about big breasted women.

    I’d hoped this could be a comforting space just for us, the ladies with a little less.

  34. closetpuritan
    closetpuritan September 2, 2010 at 10:15 pm |

    I’m going to plug this post because it’s awesome:
    http://bitchphd.blogspot.com/2005/12/girly-stuff-ultimate-bra-post.html

    Related to the “fat women aren’t A cups” (and possibly “I’m always the same [cup or overall?] size”)–every time you go up a band size, the cup size that corresponds with a particular letter goes up. Breasts that fit a 34B bra would fit a 36A bra if the wearer went up a band size but her breast size didn’t change.

    One of my friends has an AA cup–or did the last time the subject came up. She’s tall, pear-shaped, and average weight–not fat, but not skinny. So I would agree that assuming thin privilege goes with A cups is problematic.

    Also, it’s kind of ambiguous, but I took “brandishing” to mean “being proud of and/or showing off breasts/cleavage of that size” rather than “getting that breast size”. Maybe if they’d chosen a less flowery (and kinda weird, in this context) word, they would have been better understood.

  35. E
    E September 2, 2010 at 10:30 pm |

    The thing that is worrying for me about the original NYT article is just that most clothing today is already not made to accommodate large breasts, so if there is a new movement towards embracing smaller breasts even more than I already perceive them to be embraced, I worry that situation for large breast accommodation could get even worse. I wear a D cup, which I recognize is within the traditionally attractive realm, but today’s fashions often don’t make me feel that they are the standard. I hear what the small-breasted posters are saying, though, so maybe the lesson is just that beauty and fashions are so narrow as to barely include anyone.

  36. Miss S
    Miss S September 2, 2010 at 11:21 pm |

    I actually think this raises a very good question about what ‘looks’ privilege means and what really constitutes a privilege. My sister is petite with very large breasts and the assumptions people make about her are horrible. People tend to see large breasts and think ‘sexual’ ‘slutty’ ‘promiscuous’ and ‘party girl.’ They also tend not to notice other things about her- her personality, her smile, etc. This isn’t the kind of attentions she wants, especially since she developed early. And while she gets attention that she doesn’t want because of her breast size, I don’t get any for mine because they are small. And I’m not complaining. I’m happy with my body so it doesn’t bother me. I have a round butt, so I know that getting attention for a specific body part (even if it’s supposed to be a compliment) is uncomfortable.

    Is it better to be invisible and to be treated as insignificant? Or is it better to be treated like public property that people can comment on and even touch? The fact that your breast size impacts the way people treat you is problematic, regardless of the actual size.

    Also, using a fat/skinny dichotomy doesn’t help. There are so many different types of bodies that aren’t at one extreme or another. A lot of people aren’t fat or skinny and would be perceived different ways by different groups of people.

  37. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 3, 2010 at 12:31 am |

    the idea that small-breasted women are marginalized and need to “take back” the idea that they can be attractive is odd, to say the least.

    I think that small(er)-chested women are often desexualized and/or infantilized… didn’t Australia ban A-cup actresses in pornos recently, because they looked too “childlike”? That’s certainly a problem unique to smaller-breasted women — large(r) breasts can draw unwanted attention but they are undeniably considered to be sexual and “mature” (albeit often to the detriment of the poor early-developing kid attached to them.) No one jokes that men who love large-breasted women must be “pedos” — no one tries to reassure large breasted teenagers that hey, maybe they’ll grow into a more “womanly” size when you’re a proper adult.

    It makes perfect sense that small-breasted adult women would want to try and reclaim a bit of that sexual adulthood. Most adult women don’t want to be catcalled or for everyone to habitually make eye contact with those-are-not-actually-my-eyes-thanks, but most adults don’t want to be ignored or dismissed as sexual beings either.

  38. Burn
    Burn September 3, 2010 at 1:35 am |

    The most hurtful body comments I’ve dealt with have tended to be criticisms from men and sometimes women, about how the typical female model, with little in the way of hips or breasts, looks like a pre-pubescent boy, and that anyone who would be attracted to *that* must be a pedophile. And I have heard conversations along those lines more than once. While I only vaguely conform to that body ideal, and would certainly not describe myself as a model, I found it both hurtful to me and my partners that anyone would say that. Having a woman’s body– damned if you do, damned if you don’t, for practically every attribute.

  39. Sarah
    Sarah September 3, 2010 at 3:11 am |

    The fact that a trend piece has been written about breasts at all is ridiculous. I’ve never really heard of a men’s body shape ther than ripped or not ripped. The fact that women ought to be aspiring to a certain type of body which pretty much goes against our DNA is ridiculous and sexist.

    When a certain type of body shape is in fashion, then the clothing lines seem to cater for it, which means for most of my adult life, with my ridiculously large breasts, clothes haven’t fitted me. My a-C cup friends have had no problem. And if the fashion trends are now going toward Joan-esque hourglass figures, none of my friends will be able to fill out their clothes.

    Basically, nobody wins. So fashion industry? Cater to all body types, and quit telling us to change our bodies to fit your clothes.

  40. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. September 3, 2010 at 3:54 am |

    Large breasts as the ideal is a complete laugh. There is no “ideal” female appearance in our kyriarchial system. If you have large breasts some approve and treat you like an object while others object to your “overt” sexuality and treat you like a “slut.”* The twin oppressions of sexual objectification and obsessive purity means there can be no winners in this game…only losers.

    Also, K sizes have been around for while…you just have to order them from the UK.

    *With their valuation being that sluttiness is somehow bad – a value I don’t share.

  41. Gajasimha
    Gajasimha September 3, 2010 at 4:39 am |

    Now where’s that fratboy wall poster with the various breasts and degrading names for all of ‘em?

  42. Charlotte
    Charlotte September 3, 2010 at 4:59 am |

    piny: It seems like breasts become too big at about the point they stop being too small.

    Exactly! I’m going to quote this forever.

  43. Cecile
    Cecile September 3, 2010 at 5:51 am |

    I have pretty big boobs (32F) and have had nightmares trying to find bras that fit, my major source of jealousy was the pretty frilly things that only came in A-D sizes.

    Just throwing Bravissimo.com onto the pile for lingerie needs, really excellent lingerie site that goes up to a K cup, and they’re all pretty! It has a really wide range of band sizes as well, and clothing (shirts especially good) designed for big boobs.

  44. Laura
    Laura September 3, 2010 at 8:17 am |

    Actually, a lot of the pretty bras don’t come in A or AA. They start at B.

  45. Robin
    Robin September 3, 2010 at 8:25 am |

    As a small-breasted woman (36A) and a feminist, I applaud the New York Times article. I’m 44 and for my entire lifetime, have been absolutely bombarded with images of “bigger is better.” They’re everywhere. Fortunately, my mother, also a 36A, has, since I began developing, has reinforced the idea (OK, drilled it into my head continuously from the time I was 10 until today) that breast size is irrelevant and has nothing to do with the person. As the blogger writes, in an ideal world, we should celebrate all sizes, but come on, C cups and up have been celebrated forever. Now it’s my turn. (Then we can go back to celebrating everyone else.)

  46. Robin
    Robin September 3, 2010 at 8:28 am |

    I should add that is has become increasingly difficult in recent years to find nice A-cup bras. Try finding one in Victoria’s Secret that is below a B-cut. They don’t exist. My sister, also an A cup, has her husband buy her bras in Asia on his business trips because there is a much better selection.

  47. Natalia
    Natalia September 3, 2010 at 8:28 am |

    These articles tend to be written with a particular (usually fairly narrow) angle. Trend pieces are covering the consumer economy, encouraging us to buy more stuff, etc (cute bras in the sidebar, etc.) – because these are the editorial guidelines, and even in this economy, those editorial guidelines won’t change any time soon.

    Therefore, my personal take on trend pieces is that I will read them if I want to find out something specifically fashion-related – or, as another commenter already put it, I’ll go there looking for info on how to buy an overpriced bra, should I need one. I’ve actually trained myself to not seek any sort of supportive vibes from this type of journalism – because I will not find them.

    I didn’t find it in this piece, and I’ve got small tits myself.

    This part of the article did stick out at me:

    This year, pictures of a bikini-clad Kate Hudson — along with Keira Knightley a symbol of modest-breasted seductiveness to the A-cup population — surfaced showing what looked like modest implants. Afterward, Jen Udan, who works in Internet marketing in Austin, Tex., felt as if she had been slapped in the face. “I don’t need to look up to you, Kate Hudson,” Ms. Udan, 25, wrote in a blog post entitled “Diary of a Mad, Small-Breasted Woman.”

    So. You are 25 YEARS OLD and you totally! Don’t! Need! To look up to that traitor Kate Hudson!… While deriving validation from her in the past was completely normal, of course (I’m not saying it’s weird to say things like, “well, Kate Hudson has small tits, and she’s hot, so there” – but there’s a certain level of OMG in that post that I am weirded out by, having read the whole thing. No one should be THAT invested in a celebrity’s body type). Oh, and you have EVERY RIGHT to berate her for the merest possibility of her surgically enhancing her body – something that she, an adult woman, clearly should have first cleared with you.

    Honestly, maybe I’m just a different point in my life, maybe I’m not seeing this for what it really is, maybe I am missing something crucial, but I have to seriously wonder – don’t most people have better things to do? No?

  48. Sarah
    Sarah September 3, 2010 at 9:02 am |

    Completely! Find myself saying “Exactly” many times through this piece. It becomes obviously absurd when you try to imagine them running an article about ball sac fashions. Leave our bodies alone.

  49. groggette
    groggette September 3, 2010 at 9:23 am |

    Bagelsan, as a formerly very large chested woman, and now “standard” thanks to insurance and a good doctor, I appreciate the succint way you summed up my issues with the whole thing.

  50. groggette
    groggette September 3, 2010 at 9:25 am |

    Natalia, that part popped out at me too. It’s like, she doesn’t want people berating her for her body, but she has no qualms about berating someone she doesn’t even know about their body.

  51. Alexis
    Alexis September 3, 2010 at 9:45 am |

    I wear a 46A. Clearly, with a ribcage that size, I am not thin. Or rather, I WOULD wear that, if it existed. It doesn’t, so I need to go to specialist bra shops where they take a 46B and make the cups smaller. The saleswoman told me once that women like me aren’t uncommon. Bra sizes are relative. You can’t take a 30A, upsize it, and make a 42A; the actual volume of breast (and the support it needs) is much larger. Proportionately, of course, an A cup looks small on a woman who’s 5’8″ and a size 20. Alas, all bras actually made in large band sizes are full cup support models. I’d love a padded push up bra; it would make me look more proportional.

    Plus size in general tends to assume that you have a large bust (and that you want to show it off, but that’s another problem). “Fat and flat” exists, but no one wants to acknowledge that. It’s probably the most neglected segment of the bra market–the women I know wearing 30Fs and 48DDDs have trouble, but at least bras are manufactured in their size.

    Anyone who doesn’t fit within a narrow range of tolerance of the pattern ideal finds it difficult to shop, and really, the article was about shopping. If you’re not within 3″ or so of the 5’4″ pattern ideal, you’ll have trouble finding pants that fit. Society may not be prejudiced against the 5’9″ woman, but it’s still nice for her to read about stores carrying women’s pants sized by inseam.

  52. Dominique
    Dominique September 3, 2010 at 10:24 am |

    When I hear what my larger-breasted friends and colleagues go through (hint: harassment. More harassment. Stalking), I’m glad I’m not any bigger. Not that my smaller size protected me from assault, harassment and stalking altogether (I got stories too); but it seems to be worse when your chest is bigger. I never understood why any woman would want this. Men are bad enough already.

  53. leedevious
    leedevious September 3, 2010 at 10:42 am |

    I would also like to add that as an A-cup, I’ve never had a bra that lasted more than a few months without becoming hopelessly worn and stretched out. These little kid bras aren’t very high quality.

  54. April
    April September 3, 2010 at 11:29 am |

    Speaking of Victoria’s Secret, I’ve always found it extremely irritating that they are the only place where I am unable to find a bra in my size that fits me. I’m a 34C, pretty average I guess, but find that the two or three times I’ve looked for a bra there, I’m only able to fit into 36D’s. And if I buy underwear there, it has to be several sizes smaller than what it would be at a regular department store or Targer-type of retailer.

    My theory is that they play off the stereotype that women all want smaller butts and bigger boobs, so they inaccurately size their bras and underwear to make women feel like they are fitting into beauty norms. Unfortunately, this makes buying anything from them (all of it over-priced as crap, too) extremely time-consuming and annoying.

    I hate that store.

    1. Jill
      Jill September 3, 2010 at 11:32 am | *

      Victoria’s Secret is totally sized wrong, FYI — it’s not just you.

      Also, their products are shoddily-made crap. You’re better off buying a bra for half the price at a place like Target (or, if you live in a place that has Filene’s Basement or other mark-down store, getting a good bra for under $20). VS stuff is not made to last, and it’s made out of cheap fabric with quick labor.

      /VS-hating rant.

  55. leah
    leah September 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm |

    The “real women have curves” framing that some others have mentioned as being harmful is also problematic, for it also poses some bodies as more real or womanly than others when they’re really just bodies that should be embraced because they contain people. That’s why those who advocate size acceptance reject that framing.

    Regarding the, “brandishing” comment in the NYTimes, I think some people are missing Kay’s point. Even if the Times author meant that women are proclaiming their pride of their size rather than *getting* that size, such “brandishing” was in reaction not to “societal pressures,” but to “balooning sizes,” which implies that larger women or larger breasts are simply excessive. Rather than considering all bodies worthy of acceptance and pride, this frames small-breasted women’s pride in opposition to the excesses of fat and large breasts. This is the main problem and Kay’s main point — proclaiming pride in or acceptance of small breasts is problematic when it includes a rejection of *other women’s bodies* rather than the rejection of the entire notion of ideal bodies and markets that are in service of those ideals.

  56. drst
    drst September 3, 2010 at 3:00 pm |

    And the “large breast is attractive” line of thinking is conventional wisdom, but advertising certainly doesn’t present it as a standard. What you’re talking about is a stereotype of what heterosexual men find attractive — a powerful force, to be sure, but certainly a different pressure than women are held to by advertising and beauty standards.

    Kay, this is one of the more ridiculous statements I’ve read recently. Advertising doesn’t present the attitude of what heterosexual men find attractive as the normative standard? Are you fucking kidding me? THE BEAUTY STANDARD IS ABOUT WOMEN BEING PLEASING TO HETERO MEN. It convinces women to join in the policing to reinforce itself, yes, and advertising is a major water carrier for that. But to act like the standards of hetero men are completely separate from social pressures put on womens’ appearance is ludicrous.

    And “advertising doesn’t present large breasts as the standard”? I’m really baffled by your definition of large breasts here, because I rarely see any advertisements, regardless of who the target audience is, where the woman does not have “normal” to large breasts.

    1. Jill
      Jill September 3, 2010 at 3:22 pm | *

      And “advertising doesn’t present large breasts as the standard”? I’m really baffled by your definition of large breasts here, because I rarely see any advertisements, regardless of who the target audience is, where the woman does not have “normal” to large breasts.

      Um, really? Just looking at, say, the JCrew catalog would call that into question: http://www.jcrew.com/womens_feature/NewArrivals.jsp

      None of those women have large breasts. Not even close.

      Also: Most runway models and women in high-fashion ads. Page through Vogue or photos from runway shows. Not many large-breasted women there.

      Also, the beauty standard is MUCH more complicated than just “women being pleasing to hetero men.” Much much much. It’s also about race and class and performing certain characteristics.

  57. Plat
    Plat September 3, 2010 at 3:17 pm |

    Small-breasted woman are almost universally small in other ways

    Um, no. You’re doing a real disservice by perpetuating the myth that small-cup-sized women are small everywhere else.

    This is more like it:

    “Fat and flat” exists, but no one wants to acknowledge that. It’s probably the most neglected segment of the bra market

    YES. Yes yes yes yes yes. It’s as if our proportions are so odd that we couldn’t possibly exist.

    Most A-cups only go up to a 34, maybe a 36 band. You can sometimes try those band extenders, but that throws the cup positioning out of whack, plus the straps then fall off your shoulders. It’s a problem.

  58. Scarlett
    Scarlett September 3, 2010 at 3:34 pm |

    It seems like breasts become too big at about the point they stop being too small.

    This this this this THIS.

    Also: Nice work with the fat-shaming post **and** the post telling women who are (assumed to be) smaller than average that their issues don’t exist placed almost side by side today.

  59. zuzu
    zuzu September 3, 2010 at 3:37 pm |

    Whether the article is about small-breasted women “brandishing” their A-cups or large-breasted women “flaunting” their F-cups, the message is the same: THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU.

  60. closetpuritan
    closetpuritan September 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm |

    “Also: Most runway models and women in high-fashion ads. Page through Vogue or photos from runway shows. Not many large-breasted women there.”

    Yes. Others have touched on this, but I think this relates to the virgin/whore dichotomy. I get the feeling that slightly tall (but not too tall, of course), slender, average-to-small chested women are considered a more “classy” type of beautiful than women who have big breasts–especially if the breasts are enhanced, but still true even if they’re not. (I remember reading “If Chins Could Kill” and seeing an illustration of the difference between an A movie actress and a B movie actress–the same picture, photoshopped. One of the differences was the larger cup size of the B movie actress.) I’d say most of the images created primarily for women’s consumption feature smaller-breasted models, so many women will be seeing quite a few of these.

    “Regarding the, “brandishing” comment in the NYTimes, I think some people are missing Kay’s point. Even if the Times author meant that women are proclaiming their pride of their size rather than *getting* that size, such “brandishing” was in reaction not to “societal pressures,” but to “balooning sizes,” which implies that larger women or larger breasts are simply excessive.”

    Actually, that was something I’d come back to comment on. She does mention that they build smaller-breasted women up by putting larger-breasted women down. But she didn’t really address the fact that according to the article, larger breasts are bad BECAUSE they mean you’re fat, except to say that large breasts don’t necessarily mean you’re fat. Sort of like saying “Not all feminists are butch lesbians!” without saying “There’s nothing wrong with being a butch lesbian.”

    (But I don’t think I’d characterize it as missing Kay’s point. I can agree that they’re praising small breasts by putting down large breasts, and still disagree on whether they probably intended to say that women change their breasts based on fashion.)

  61. piny
    piny September 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm |

    Whether the article is about small-breasted women “brandishing” their A-cups or large-breasted women “flaunting” their F-cups, the message is the same: THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU.

    How can you not brandish them? They’re on your chest! Right there, front and center! What are you supposed to do, walk around on your hands all day?

  62. Alanna
    Alanna September 3, 2010 at 7:01 pm |

    While a lot of women with small breasts ARE smaller overall, I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss this as a “skinny woman” problem – some of us are disproportionately small and have average-sized bodies. As far as failing to address large-breasted women – is it really the NY Times’ job to give equal attention to both? Large-breasted women are held as the ideal – the reason the article was even possible was because it is still considered unusual to want to decorate or celebrate small breasts. I am someone who believes in more representation for fuller-figured women in the media – but it stings to be dismissed when my body type gets some hype.

  63. catfood
    catfood September 3, 2010 at 9:01 pm |

    Okay, I’m just some het dude whose opinion is totally unimportant here. But this entire conversation makes me sad. It’s so sad that women can’t just go through life wearing whatever body they have and everyone else being okay with it.

    Yes, that sort of thing happens to men too, but not like this.

    I’m just saying you’re right, virtually every one of the sixty-plus comments above this one. What a shame that women are subjected to all this body policing from men (mostly) and other women. It’s just wrong.

  64. shannon
    shannon September 3, 2010 at 11:11 pm |

    Hmm…I’m glad that others have that problem with bras as well… And many clothes aren’t really cut for the flat. I can’t wear strapless unless I want ‘I was so excited my dress fell off’ to be literal, and a lot of other shirts seem to be made for people with breasts.* It’s like the straps are somehow too long or something.

    *I technically have breasts, but not really. I just have really big puffy girl nipples.

  65. elle
    elle September 4, 2010 at 6:33 pm |

    Count me in as flat chested.- those Jcrew models may be small, but they’re at least a full cup larger than me. I’m thankful to be skinny overall and to have clothing generally fit me, but it’s extremely hard to feel sexy and confident when my upper half looks prepubescent. It’s difficult to talk about since so many women (including myself) use padding… society doesn’t realize how many of us there are. I appreciated the NYT article very much.

  66. Emily
    Emily September 4, 2010 at 7:13 pm |

    Also, although stores may seem packed with bras for small-breasted women, look again. First of all, almost all of them are push-up bras or super-push-up or NEW EXTRA ULTRA-PUSH-UP for our SEXIEST LOOK YET!, assuming that small-breasted women will want to have larger breasts, and wear bras that make them look larger on a daily basis. The most ridiculous example I found of this was the Victoria’s Secret Bombshell bra – I put it on and it just looked laughable!

    Also, all breast sizes are NOT physically equal, so what’s just perfect for women with one breast size can completely not work for women of another size. For example, WTF is up with underwires in small bra sizes? Back when I was 32A or so, I’d actually cut the wire out of the side because it was so completely unnecessary, and sometimes even painful.

    And I also agree that the whole “almost universally small in other ways” thing not only marginalizes women with certain body types, but completely ignores trans women – I was having a discussion with a friend who was considering transitioning, and ze said that if ze took hormone therapy, ze still would probably only have A-cup breasts, or maybe B-cup if it went very well.

  67. zuzu
    zuzu September 4, 2010 at 7:53 pm |

    If I were designing the human body, I’d make breasts removable and replaceable. You could have a whole drawer full of different-sized breasts for different occasions. Have a hot date? Use the larger size. Out for a run? Use the small size, or leave them off entirely.

    And the men could have the same thing. We could call it Cocks in a Box.

    Or maybe, instead of making them detachable, they could just be adjustable, like on Growing-Up Skipper. I’d have to work on the mechanism — you wouldn’t want your tits growing suddenly when you raised your arm to serve a volleyball, for example, since it’d throw your balance right off — but I think it could be done.

  68. tamara
    tamara September 5, 2010 at 6:16 pm |

    I find that as a naturally skinny woman, in the ‘almost universal’ sense, with A cup breasts, I am marginalised in more insidious ways, even by friends. If some women friends are gathered over a cup of tea, and begin talking bodies, I am usually excluded from the discussion by comments such as, “But you wouldn’t know what that’s like, not with a body like yours,” or words that add up to that all the same. I usually point out that talking like this only serves to divide us as women, and excludes me from feeling a part of the group. I also point out that I am careful to only speak positively about anyone’s body, and to make sure that it is not a weight-based comment. I point out that we need to find beauty in each and every one of us.

    Body image issues affect all women, regardless of size. It is especially damaging when women do it to other women, through thoughtless comments such as the example above. Not only does that comment distance and exclude me as a thin woman, I cannot ever satisfy the ‘ideal’ either – it is ever changing, ever unreasonable. So I am left without the option of belonging to any group, an uncomfortable and lonely position sometimes!

  69. lauren
    lauren September 5, 2010 at 7:35 pm |

    “Small-breasted woman are almost universally small in other ways, and it would be hard to say that skinny women are marginalized.”

    As a small-breasted fat cis-woman, this surely made me feel excluded and pissed me off enough to not want to read the rest of the article. I’m small-breasted and marginalized for being fat and marginalized for being both small-breasted and fat.

  70. Crystal
    Crystal September 6, 2010 at 3:59 pm |

    I cannot for the life of me figure out why people envy very large breasts. My shoulders hurt, they make it very hard to breath when I’m not standing up straight, and I bump into literally everything with them.

  71. Crystal
    Crystal September 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm |

    Also, the clothing issue applies for me as well. If I want a shirt or dress to fit around my breasts, it has to be about five times too big for the rest of me.

  72. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 7, 2010 at 4:11 pm |

    I cannot for the life of me figure out why people envy very large breasts.

    Well, I certainly don’t think there’s anything innately enviable about them — just like blond hair, long lashes, light skin, etc. Obviously the envy is about how you are perceived… and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the envy was directed at “average” breasts more than particularly “large” ones, the former being more “acceptable” than small ones without a lot of the attendant inconvenience of large ones. I wonder what the average “ideal” size is, actually?

  73. mel
    mel September 7, 2010 at 6:02 pm |

    I think the argument over whether we are inundated with J Crew boobs or Victoria’s Secret boobs is an interesting one. Our perception to various oppressions are entirely subjective. When I see a J Crew catalog, I see shirts and dresses. When I see a VS catalog, I see sultry ladies who fill out bras in ways my ‘squito bites never will.

    The grass is always greener and we’re all losing.

  74. AdrienneVeg
    AdrienneVeg September 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm |

    When I see a J Crew catalog, I see shirts and dresses. When I see a VS catalog, I see sultry ladies who fill out bras in ways my ’squito bites never will.

    Agreed. The models’ bodies in the J Crew link are obviously not on display as much as those in a VS catalog. Those J Crew models are very thin, but the clothes are all pretty loose-fitting, and I can imagine them looking equally good on a range of body types. But I will never look “good” in VS bras, because they are intended to distort and mask my natural body, and unconvincingly at that.

    Outside of high fashion or perhaps American Apparel, I don’t ever see small breasts highlighted in advertising. Some models may have small breasts, but, as in the J Crew example, it’s pretty incidental to the image itself.

  75. mel
    mel September 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm |

    That isn’t entirely what I meant regarding J Crew, though the images are clearly not supposed to be sexually enticing in the way that the Victoria’s Secret ones are.

    When I see catalogs or magazines featuring smaller or flat chested women, my first reaction is not, “Oh, how nice those clothes look and fit over small breasts.” (And there are plenty of fashions and styles that do so and are difficult for folks with larger breasts to wear.) I just see the clothes. We aren’t taught to appreciate what we have, just to be envious of what we don’t.

  76. JJ
    JJ September 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm |

    I’m not sure you made much of an argument that the NYT piece is problematic. You seem unhappy with several phrases in it, but don’t have much of a point. At the end, you lament they might not do a piece on large breasts. It’s almost like you are grasping for angles to complain about the piece or be offended. Maybe the piece wasn’t that bad after all. It’s just an NYT piece on lingerie trends, not something that’s going to cure Americans and their body image problems.

  77. Alicia
    Alicia September 9, 2010 at 10:44 pm |

    Good God, I would love to have smaller breasts! Look at most models; they have smaller breasts, even Victoria’s Secret models. I’m a 34DDD and getting a reduction later this year because my back is bending and I have to go to a special store to buy bras, and none of those bras are cute. It seems like whenever bigger women try to feel good about their bodies, thin women have to find something else to complain about…

  78. BGR
    BGR September 10, 2010 at 11:43 am |

    “It seems like whenever bigger women try to feel good about their bodies, thin women have to find something else to complain about…”

    Yes, all of us small-breasted women should just stfu, and realize that our body image issues and feelings of marginalization are completely bogus and don’t matter compared to those D-cup + folks.

    Why are we competing here? I’ve read every comment, and was glad to see others were upset about the OP, as it made me feel crappy, as a curvy bottomed A. I’m happy with my body now, but damn that took many years. I know there should be more representation of larger ladies as well, but us flatter chicks could use a bit of love too. Everyone has individual experiences regarding body image issues, and saying one group is just complaining to get attention away from another group doesn’t exactly further the cause of acceptance.

  79. Red Comet
    Red Comet September 10, 2010 at 8:59 pm |

    I agree with the general annoyance at the NYT piece.

    But this is a bit problematic too:
    “Many will probably also take issue with the link of breast size to weight. While there is a correlation between weight and breast size, large breasts are not necessarily and indicator of “ballooning” weight.”

    I wear a size 36A. While I’m not currently fat (I’m 5’10″ and, as funny as the phrase is, I’m genuinely “big boned”) I was at one point and my breasts were no larger than they are now. It can be extremely difficult to find bras in my size, even in Victoria’s Secret. Not trying to tear you down, and I’m sure I’m not the only person to point this issue out in the comment section. Otherwise I really like the article.

  80. but really?
    but really? September 13, 2010 at 6:59 am |

    “Small-breasted woman are almost universally small in other ways, and it would be hard to say that skinny women are marginalized.”

    Greetings from an 188 lb, 5″4 reader with A-B cups. My best friend is also a flat fattie. Thanks for making bad assumptions and making me feel like shit (omg I’m not even doing my job as a fatty and having big boobs)

    Remember the old adage about assumptions, sweetheart

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