Why I’m So Passionate About Bra Fitting

A great starting place before reading this post is to read this one, How I’ve Come to This Point, where I discuss my life and my struggles with my body image. Being a woman of unconventional stature, it’s been an uphill struggle to learn to love my body. I never imagined I could post pictures of myself in my underwear on any website, let alone publicly for the world to see. While plenty of people assume I post the pictures I do to attract men, the real reason is that I hope other women like me see my posts, my Instagram feed, or anything else. I hope they see my posts and feel inspired to bust out a measuring tape and realize that they’re wearing the wrong size. Bra fitting is a subject I feel very strongly about, and I get very defensive when I hear improper fit techniques in public or online. I’ve been teased for my enthusiasm by people in my life, but I feel like it’s necessary for me to explain these feelings and discuss the root of why I feel this way.

Top: Lane Bryant 40H, this wasn't even the entirety of being grown out of my bras. Bottom: 36K, much better

Top: Lane Bryant 40H, this wasn’t even the entirety of being grown out of my bras.
Bottom: 36K, much better

I’ve always had large breasts. I don’t remember my life without some semblance of “boob” on my chest. I was the stereotypical “first girl in school to wear a bra”, and I graduated high school wearing an (improperly fitted) 40H. It was very difficult to grow up and grow into my body and I attribute some of this to not understanding bra fitting and the fact that the alphabet doesn’t stop at DDD. When I was 12 and wearing D cups, everyone treated me like a porn star and at the time I was ashamed to size up for fear of that letter at the end of a bra size. It didn’t help that celebrities with large breasts rarely wore sizes above 38DD, and only porn stars had sizes above that. I wore 38DD like an identity, and I was proud of that size.

From about the ages of 13 to 18, I went from wearing a 38DD to a 40H. I wore these sizes because they were the biggest I could find at that point in time. When I was wearing a 38DD, I measured myself according to the Sophisticated Pair calculator as a 36G in UK sizing but didn’t believe it and ignored it due to conditioning from the media about what bra sizes looked like. During this time period I developed scoliosis, daily migraines, poor posture, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, huge dents in my shoulders, breast rashes, breast acne, a frumpy looking silhouette, and extremely poor self esteem. My breasts developed closer to my armpits, which I now have to correct. I’d come home from school every day, rip off my bra, and lie in my bed in pain because of the bras I was wearing, which were usually extremely padded with half of my breasts hanging outside the bra.

Wearing a 40DD when I needed a 36J. I tried this on to illustrate my point.

Wearing a 40DD when I needed a 36J. I tried this on to illustrate my point.

After being on reddit for a few months, I kept seeing the subreddit, A Bra That Fits, linked in comment sections. I decided to dive into the subreddit and realized that a DD cup was not necessarily a large size, and saw many women like me on the front page every day. I was too nervous to measure myself because of my past experience, being a 38DD measuring a 36G. The only way I got over it and measured myself was because I was completely grown out of my 40H bras from Lane Bryant. My nipples were sitting on the edge of the cups, and I’d have to readjust myself numerous times an hour to keep them from being outside the bra. I followed the instructions, measured myself, put the numbers in the calculator, and promptly burst into tears.

“38J????!!! That can’t be right!!”

Because I already had trouble finding my 40H bras (which are actually a 40G in UK sizing, who knew?), I was struck with horror to find that I was measuring 4 cup volumes larger than that. I made my own post on ABTF, and one of the top members told me to try a whopping 38K first to see how it fit, and then size down accordingly. She said this because of the shape of my breasts. When I tried the 38K, it was maybe a cup or two too large for me, and it really hurt my self esteem to not be able to fill it out. Due to some trauma and abuse in my life, when a bra is too large for me it makes me feel inadequate. I shelved the idea of wearing a bra in the right size and dealt with my 40H bras.

That 38K. It wasn't even that bad, but that empty space at the bottom was the worst thing ever.

That 38K. It wasn’t even that bad, but that empty space at the bottom was the worst thing ever.

The idea didn’t come back to me until I was shopping for shoes and came upon a realization. When your shoes are too small, you don’t deal with the pain of too-small shoes just because you’re afraid of the size. Why should bras be any different? I sucked it up, measured, and purchased the Goddess Keira bra. Admittedly, the reason I bought the Keira was because it uses US sizing, so a 38J is a 38M in the Goddess line. I bought the 38M to stroke my ego and make me feel better about my size. When I got it and tried it on, I was astounded with how it lifted and separated my boobs. It felt like a second skin and within minutes the strain I had been feeling in my neck was disappearing. There was only one problem. It gave me zero cleavage and had no padding. This wasn’t going to fly with me. I wore the 40H bras from Lane Bryant and wore the Keira over top of it because I didn’t want to let go of the padded bras. I eventually was able to wean myself off of the Lane Bryant bras when I realized I was so much more comfortable in just the Keira.

You can see that pink LB bra peeking out.

You can see that pink LB bra peeking out.

My second bra was the Cleo Lucy, and it reduced me to tears. At the time I thought I was full on bottom. I’m actually full on top with short roots. My shape was incompatible with the Lucy, and thus it gaped at the top, giving the appearance of being too large. When I posted for advice in ABTF and was told to try the 38HH, I refused and abandoned the Lucy altogether due to my stubbornness and fear of sizing down. I ended up trying a few more bras before settling on the Cleo Minnie in 38J, and dealing with the Kris Line Brilliant in 38JJ (this bra was a disaster, here’s my Bratabase page on it)

Eventually I ended up needing 36Js, and learned that I was actually full on top with short roots, which drastically improved my success finding bras. I discovered Bratabase, and started doing a ton of research until I got it down to a science and knew pretty much which brands, styles, sizes, and measurements would work for me. Tissue migration was making my “armpit fat” shift into my breasts, and my breasts were becoming fuller and closer together with less of a splayed appearance. The increase in fullness made me go to a 36JJ, and then a 36K, and now I’m hovering between a 36K and 36KK.

I once had no problems with how this fit...

I once had no problems with how this fit…

The path to finding a good bra (let alone a few good bras) was extremely difficult, nerve wracking, and covered in tears. I imagine this is worse for women who identify as having either very small or very large breasts, because in our culture “A cup” and “DD cup” are less of a size and more of an identity. Whether we like it or not, we’re conscious of what our bra sizes mean to the public. If you’re a former 34A wearing a 28DD, you’re going to be self conscious of it just like a former 38DD might be self conscious of her 32JJs.

To get back on subject, bra fitting is a passion for me because I know how drastically the right bra changed my opinion of myself and my quality of life. It pains me to think of all the women like me who are living in intense pain and discomfort because they think that’s what they deserve for having big boobs. It disgusts me that there’s women out there who fear the size of their breasts and refuse to believe their size because they know other people will shame them for wearing a “porn star” size. It makes me want to cry to imagine the snapped underwires, shoulder grooves, quadboob, and the women who deal with these symptoms and hate their bodies because of it. I was upset when Ariel Winter announced her breast reduction because I knew part of the reason was the immense sexualization and shame she encountered when the Modern Family crew strapped her boobs down because “teenagers shouldn’t have boobs that big”. Nobody should live in discomfort just because they feel they have to or they feel they deserve it. Nobody should feel like their body should change unless they themselves desire it.

“38DD”

Real DDs

Real Ds and DDs

It’s extremely hard to find bras in our society because retailers think it’s a loss to stock non-matrix sizes, and it doesn’t help that Victoria’s Secret is considered the boob authority (heads up, they measure me as a 46DD. That’s wrong on so many levels.) If more women measured themselves, and that 80% of women wearing the wrong bra size shrunk down to 60%, 40%, 20%, and so on, it would be easier for all of us to find comfort in our undergarments. Labels like “A cup” and “DD cup” would cease to exist. Bras wouldn’t be $60 for an unpadded balconette, and it wouldn’t be considered a “luxury” to have a bra in a size like 30H. Women wouldn’t be shamed for having porn star sizes because those incorrectly measured “36Cs” would discover they needed a 30F instead. Bras would exist in so many more styles, colors, patterns. We’d see more innovation in large sizes. We wouldn’t have to import our pretty padded bras from Poland.

bra-sizes

I’m sure you’ve seen this bullshit on FaceBook

Women wouldn’t need to browse websites like ABTF and Bratabase for hours just to find something to suit them because they could just go to any store and try on as many bras as needed to find the right one. They wouldn’t need to drive for hours to find a single store to actually try on bras, and they wouldn’t pay the premium of shopping in a “specialty boutique”. There wouldn’t be these huge forums of desperate girls scrounging for anything in a sister size just to feel supported and comfortable. There wouldn’t be as many large breasted women visiting doctors and considering breast reductions because they wouldn’t have the problems they do now (I know some women still do require breast reductions even after being properly fitted). Above all, young girls would grow into their bodies with more confidence. Large breasted young women wouldn’t feel as ashamed and disgusted with themselves when they no longer have to discreetly tug at the edges of their 38D bras to cover their breasts and wonder if anyone’s judging them for it. They won’t have to cover their cleavage in the locker rooms in high school in fear of someone shaming them for “showing off”. They wouldn’t cry when every prom dress they try is borderline indecent.

IMG_0144

I was so self conscious throughout my entire prom because my ill fitting Lane Bryant strapless kept pulling my boobs, and therefore my dress down.

I’m passionate about bra fitting because being comfortable should not be an expensive chore. I’m passionate about bra fitting because I spent years of my life hating my body and hating my breasts because I thought I was a freak. I’m passionate about bra fitting because every single woman deserves to love their body and love their breasts. I’m passionate about bra fitting because I want to show American lingerie companies that yes, we do exist, and we want American made lingerie sold in our malls that doesn’t cost an arm and a a leg. I’m passionate about bra fitting because I’m against body shaming, and I’m tired of being called a liar because “nobody has boobs that big unless they’re fake”. I’m passionate about bra fitting because it disgusts me to see stores size women incorrectly just to make a sale, preying on their insecurities.

Sorry VS, real women can't Photoshop out back pain and spillage

Sorry VS, real women can’t Photoshop out back pain and spillage

Whenever bras come up in conversation, I ask the person if they’ve been properly fitted (especially if they complain about their bras), and if they’re receptive I try to find them a bra to fit them and change their lives the way the Goddess Keira changed mine.

Head over to my “Useful Links” tab for information on how to find the right bra for you.

-Danielle

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