Bra Size and Self-Esteem at Any Age

I would like to apologize in advance to any men who happen to be reading this Fun Friday post.  On the other hand, it’s possible you could end up learning something.  And it’s about boobies.

I’ve always been flat-chested.  I was also what my grandmother liked to call a “late bloomer”.  I remember those awkward pre-teen moments when all the girls in my class started to “burgeon” and not-so discreetly ask each other for tampons in the girl’s bathroom as a badge of honor.  Did I say pre-teen?  I mean high school.  Yes, I was one of the girls who looked like she should have been in fourth grade when a couple of the other girls were being asked out by seniors who did not talk to their faces.

Yes, it bothered me.  I don’t know if guys realize this, but by being so fascinated with that protuberant part of the female anatomy, they inadvertently give us a complex.  Because duh!  We all know that guys like girls with big boobs.  And when you’re an impressionable high school girl who can’t for the life of you figure boys out, that one thing is clear.  How do you get a boy to pay attention to you?  Have big boobs.

© Lisa F. Young |

They say that women dress not to impress men, but to impress and one-up each other.  The same is definitely true of cleavage.  We’re as aware of that part of our anatomy as you guys are, but for most of us it isn’t out of a sense of attraction, it’s out of a sense of “Dammit, he’s looking at Jolene’s boobs and not mine!”  Of course, being women and as prone to offense as anyone else, as soon as we’ve caught your attention we will demand that it be directed to the right location.  The eyes, gentlemen, the eyes.  But it’s that bit of plumage, those intriguing decorations, that we know draw you to us.

So what’s a flat-chested girl to do?

Well, I tried a water-bra once.  Now there was an interesting experience!  It was neon green.  Why I don’t know.  My mom let me get it for a laugh.  Here’s a couple of things you need to know about water bras.  They feel freezing cold when you first put them on, but once that water warms up, they will keep your chest so cozy that you don’t want to take them off.  They are also impossible to clean, no matter how closely you follow the instructions.  And frankly, they feel kinda silly as they slosh while you’re walking.

I also had a Wonderbra once.  It was great!  It did exactly what it was supposed to do.  For the first hour or so that I had it on.  And then things would start to shift and sink until I looked flatter than I was when I started.  Of course, if you can arrange to slip off to the ladies room to adjust the girls every now and then it’s fine.  Ever wonder why women are always running to the bathroom?  It’s probably because you stopped paying attention to us.

I have problems with bras though that have nothing to do with what lies beneath.  My big problem with bras is the straps.  I have narrow shoulders and bra straps slip right off, no matter how tight I make them.  It’s maddening.  I can spend all day hiking up those bra straps.  I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even try to hide it anymore.  I’d rather yank that strap up while someone is staring right at me than spend ten minutes trying to discreetly roll my shoulders and nudge it up.  It doesn’t help to get racer-back bras either because my funky shoulders push that kind of strap halfway up my neck.  Strapless bras work okay for me, but once the elastic starts to stretch out thinks sink to old lady locations.

And then my coworker, Erika, made the suggestion one day that I should go bra shopping at Aerie.  Their stock is aimed at teenage girls and their sizes run small, so I could probably find something that works well with my flat-chested narrow-shouldered travesty of a torso.  So off I went.

Well, I walked into Aerie and a darling young sales rep by the name of Brittney who looked like she was probably born sometime after I graduated from high school smiled and asked if she could help me.  I explained my bra strap predicament.  She beamed and cheerfully told me that I needed to head to the back of the store to see Jaime to be measured.  So off I went.

Jaime looked as though she could be Brittney’s younger sister.  I have things in my refrigerator older than her.  But she was happy to see me, and when I told her what I was looking for she bounced into action with her handy-dandy tape measure.

“What size to you think you are?” she asked.

“I’m a 34A,” I replied.

She lassoed me with her tape measure.  She frowned.  She scooted the tape measure unapologetically over my disappointing girls.  And then she said…

“Actually, you’re a 36B.”

My heart stopped.  My jaw hit the floor.  My chest, boobies included, filled with elation.

Jaime must have seen the sudden sweep of joy in my eyes.  “Most women don’t know what size they are,” she explained with a sweet smile.  “I’ll get you some samples to try on.”

I felt like I was in high school again.  I felt like I should be throwing a sweet sixteen party.  Somehow, in the space of those five minutes, I had grown an entire cup size!  The world was an entirely new place!  Maybe there was something there to attract the attention of the opposite sex!  Maybe I would get a chance to someday snap, ‘excuse me, I’m up here’!  Maybe I did have enough there to someday sag!  Finally!  All those cookies have paid off!

© Dana Rothstein |

It’s a bit ridiculous how happy being just one cup size bigger than I thought I was has made me.  It’s weird how it has affected my self-esteem … at age 38.  I don’t know if we put too much emphasis on our breasts in this modern culture or not.  Personally, I have no problem with them being seen as an instrument of attraction.  Yes, I do believe they’re more than just milk-producers for babies.

They’re sexual, no doubt about it.  And that’s fantastic.  They get stared at and touched.  So do men’s crotches.  We’ve just lived with a double-standard for so long that ogling a woman’s breasts has gained more social acceptance than eyeing a guy’s trousers.  But that’s a whole other blog post.  I’m sure guys have the same weird self-esteem issues with their bodies that we have with ours.  Are we nuts?  Probably.  But for now I’m just going to sit back and smile at my pretty new size 36B bras and not worry what anyone thinks of me.


7 thoughts on “Bra Size and Self-Esteem at Any Age

  1. Congrats! 🙂 That is quite the achievement. Nothing like a little boost to the self esteem!

    Our family is the opposite, not a woman under a 32 DD. Seriously. It has its own issues. My sister, tall at 6′, was a 36 JJ – naturally – until a reduction eight years ago. It severely messed with her back and gave her permanent scars on the shoulders. She had a reduction (16 POUNDS of breast tissue from EACH breast!) and complained the other day about going from a DD to a G LOL

    Breasts are a big part of us. (Pun anyone?) I like my girls. Even if they are sagging, leaning against my gut and talking to my knees if I go braless. LOL I now live in sports bras for comfort. On the upside, they are great side impact airbags if I lie on my back…

  2. Wow. I know exactly what you mean. Again, at the other end of the spectrum, but believe me, I’d rather be able to easily buy new clothes than be a spectacle. However, I have them, I live with them. I bought 36J maternity bras after giving birth to my son a little over 2 years ago. They were slightly too small, but I’d brought them over from the UK (I’m in New Zealand) and I had been wearing nothing for the first couple of weeks. Since then, we just haven’t had the money to buy more. We still don’t, but I decided that with my book coming out soon, it was time to soup-up my appearance a little bit. So I imported some more bras. By guess-work and luck, they are PERFECT! I haven’t shrunk since ceasing feeding, either… if anything, I’m bigger again… sigh.
    The thing about a perfect fitting bra: Suddenly, I want to stand up straighters and suck in my gut! I don’t have lumpy boobs anymore! And they look perky. Joy.
    I have been incredibly lucky that I don’t have back problems. I don’t know why. Just lucky, I guess. I wear two bras to exercise. It’s the only way. And there’s no way I’d go to a gym… I don’t need an audience. It was bad enough when I was a G cup. It’s X-Box all the way for me.
    They’re a part of me, so I accept them. But it does make dealing with men very tricky. How do you know he isn’t just interested in you because of your chest decorations? The groping in pubs… the motor-boating in the middle of a dance floor… And don’t think for a second I thought they were interested in me ’cause I was pretty, or anything.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love my girls, too. But shrinking them is on the list of things to do if I ever sell enough books… So, buy my book when it comes out! (o:

    • It’s so funny how one part of our anatomy takes up so much of our (and the opposite sex’s) attention. I’ve often wondered about the challenges of women at the other end of the spectrum from me chest-wise. I have one friend who is super nice and interesting and gets a lot of attention from the boys for the wrong reasons. I hope those men get the point eventually.

      • Yep. I think there are issues at both ends of the spectrum – too little or too much attention only being one part! And really, there is more to us than our boobs!

  3. Hysterical! I was haunted by a flat chest too – my friends and boys made fun of me in HS indeed. I was also a 34A. I would hunch over to hide my flatness. However since having my son and gaining a few pounds I happily have something to show now too as a 36B. Yet, when I was on a quest to lose weight and the “gals” began to disappear I asked my friend “Should I get thin again and lose the boobs or not?” She said: keep the boobs. So there ya have it! And as for straps they truly believe they are invented by men who never wore such a bra! Why else would the strap adjustments be at the back where its impossible to reach, huh?? Thanks for the laugh!

    • Exactly! Men totally invented bras. Actually, I kind of prefer a corset. They put everything in the right place and give you good posture! And if they’re fitted correctly and not tight-laced they’re actually quite comfortable. 😉 But yeah, the boobs are the best part of having gained 25 pounds since I turned 35.

  4. Sometimes I fantasize about going into a store and trying on a cute button-up blouse or blazer and having it fit over my breasts without gapping desperately or refusing to fasten. Oh well, the grass is always greener.

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