Let’s get this off my chest

*Warning: content might be distasteful to those of a more sensitive nature*

As I ripped apart the tissue paper package yesterday morning to reveal the bra inside I let out a little squawk and my heart leapt with joy.This was finally THE ONE! Soft stretchy material, smooth, seamless, it oozed comfort. I put it on. Distinct lack of slippy lacy straps. Not pretty, perhaps, rather a plain Jane among bras but utterly suited to its purpose, and nude. Finally, after 46 years, I have learned to wear only nude bras which disappear under clothes. My assets are attention-seeking as it is. Why indulge them any more then necessary? The £31 Rigby and Peller bra lived up to my aspirations for its:

  • Support:10
  • Comfort:10
  • Shape:10
  • Biteyness:0

Hooray! Relieved, I consigned it to the laundry basket without rancour at the end of the day.

Why am I writing about bras? Well, I’m not your “average” 34B, you see. Actually, not many women are. That was the average size a decade ago but now it’s 36C, apparently. Further, around 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size for them. I found this out when, many years ago, I idly took my “average” 34B bra size to Rigby and Peller and was fitted by the redoubtable June Kenton. To my horror, before she even measured me, she had sized me up as a 32E. Surely not? She was right though. I imagined her imparting the same sort of unwelcome news to HM the Queen and being rebuffed by an “Off with her head!” for, dear Reader, this is how I felt. This was over 15 years ago. Children were since born, I grew then shrank with exercise and I’m now a size 30G. That means that I have a size 8 back, barely larger than my daughter’s, but cups like weather balloons.

This is me!

You’ve seen those Indian statues? This is my shape. Well, not exactly but Indian women are generally curvy, that is the ones who aren’t shaped like tiny, wiry little birds from Southern India, or the tall and slender Punjabi girls with long, long hair, from the north of the country.

No wonder my BMI is so high despite me being a size 8-10. I must have a stone on my chest, as one particularly tactless (now Facebook only and hanging by a thread at that) friend remarked. Naturally she found it easy to breast feed and her boobs are as nothing now. I tried really hard to feed both of my children with only limited success, for a multitude of reasons. It doesn’t come naturally to all. And I am convinced that having large boobs makes it harder for the baby to latch on, actually. I was doubly disappointed when I had to give up after a scant few months: breastfeeding was my last hope of reducing my breast size and now they were even bigger. Too much information? Yes, for some, but clearly not for the very odd man (I assume) on Twitter who stumbled across a bra conversation with another Tweep and sent me suggestive tweets about them for days. He must have used boobs as a search term and turned up a frustrated conversation about inadequate lingerie. Sad really.

Have you ever seen those atmospheric French films where the heroine, involved in a steamy siesta affair with an Estate Agent, usually in some small Provençale village removes her flimsy, flippy, hardly-there ditsy floral print silk frock in one fell swoop and she’s not even wearing a bra? Not in my world. I just look fat.

Although I’d by rights be a size 8-10, (I know, I’ve said that already, but saying it again makes me feel better,) I have to buy a size 12 to accommodate my boobs without pulling, and then all that excess fabric hangs around my waist in mockery of me even trying to look nice. My swimwear is dismally matronly. Not for me those cut away, barely-there scraps of Lycra. Diane von Furstenburg may well say her lovely wrap dresses are built to fit and flatter real women with curves but there’s nowhere near enough room for this real woman and her real curves. Designers just don’t want to use up valuable fabric on excess boobage. Clothing manufacturers from Joseph to Cyberjammies define me as size 14, large, extra large. Even supposedly specialist designers get it wrong and their clothes are often made from such horrid fabric. My clothes just hang there because, you see, they are not couture, which is what I’d need to find clothes that really fitted, sweetie. I might as well buy my clothes made of green canvas from a camping store.

And then there’s the question of the cut and shape of the clothes because, of course, the whims of designers who produce clothes that fit only anorexic 10 year olds (Yes, you, Claudie Pierrlot) don’t take people like me into account. Polo necks are a definite no-no, as my bust looks like two sacks of King Edwards in them. They only thing that suits, à la Susanna Constantine, are scoop necks which have the dual effect of being rather chilly in the winter and serving as a distinct come-on to one half of the population whilst raising the hackles of the remaining half. Vests, little sleeveless tops are all a no-no. It’s a mumu or nothing, often.

One of the less revealing photos of the poor, late Lolo Ferrari

My chest is the first thing to enter a room. The first thing that men notice, the thing they talk to. Men seem to think that more is more when it comes to breasts, and the larger the bust, the smaller the brain. You can take from that what you will but, just for the record, I speak five languages and have a degree and an MBA. Ugh. Paradoxically, some men fantasise about large breasts, to the extent of pressurising partners into having breast “enhancement” surgery, but so few of the most sought after actresses have copious curves.

I have not yet encountered the back pain common to large-busted women, partly because I exercise (wearing a Shockabsorber) and try to strengthen my weight-bearing core, but I know this causes further problems for some women.

So, what to do about it all? Obviously, I’d like fashion designers to take larger-breasted women into account when designing their clothes. We are not a marginalised freak show and resent being made to feel like one.

Katie P went up, then down again

I’ve considered breast reduction surgery but that’s very expensive, very painful and leads to so much scarring. Although I did come across something about the new micro liposuction surgery, which scars less and for which the recovery time is considerably lessened. That, too, is expensive but I’d be open to trying this if there are any surgeons out there reading this….


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