The New York Times had a piece yesterday in their Style section talking about A-cup (or smaller) women. The article was written by Catherine Saint Louis who wrote about teen botox not that long ago. I know body image issues (of which breast size is just a small part) are extremely personal, but I find it more than a little odd that the Times decided to write a trend piece on small-breasted women.
Though certainly nearly every woman is insecure about her breasts at some point in her life (or maybe for nearly all of her life) 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. Small-breasted woman are almost universally small in other ways, and it would be hard to say that skinny women are marginalized. As we’ve seen, skinny women are usually held up as the ideal and the standard rather than an anomaly.
Let me first say I completely the understand the struggles of being an unusual size — large or small. I’ve been really lucky (privileged, even) that I have an average bra size and my struggle for buying them is more out of laziness and dislike of lingerie departments than it is over a challenge to find something that fits.
But this article is deeply problematic. The story itself starts with a rather poor assumption: “The parade of heaving bosoms in Victoria’s Secret catalogs not only suggests that bigger is better but also that supersizing with a push-up bra is universally desired.” While the models in Victoria’s Secret catalogs certainly emphasize the models’ breasts more (particularly with Photoshop), it would be false to say that Victoria’s Secret is a store that sells bras for large-breasted women, which is what the “heaving bosoms” description seems to imply. I know women whose breasts were too large for Victoria’s Secret. They, like many other mainstream clothing companies, cater to the masses, which means they have a lot of 34B bras and probably not a lot of the larger and smaller sizes.
To be fair, it is worth pointing out that not all small-breasted women want push-up bras — something I’ve heard small-breasted women complain about. Just because a woman’s breasts are small doesn’t necessarily mean she wants to make them bigger.
Some small-breasted women have complained about their small breast size, referencing the 1972 Esquire article, “A Few Words About Breasts” by Nora Ephron. Others, the article says, are proud of their flat-chested status, evidenced by Facebook groups like “Flat Chested and Proud of It!” and “Flat Chested Girls United.”
It’s great that this article is promoting the acceptance of small breasts, but it would be nice if they did the same for large-breasted women. Instead, the article fails to really address that diversity in women’s bodies includes the DD in addition to the AA. The only acknowledgment of such women in the article is “In recent years, as people’s weight has ballooned, breasts (mostly made up of fat) have only gotten larger, and commensurately bra cup sizes, too. K-cups now exist.”
That’s it. K-cups now exist.
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.
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.
We should be focusing on acceptance of all types of bodies — not just offering a round of applause to women with small breasts.
I don’t mean to imply that the struggles of women with small breasts aren’t valid — they are. I’d just like to see the New York Times take on the issues of women with large breasts — of which there are many — with equal vigor. But I’m not holding my breath.