I got on the bra-fitting bandwagon well before there was an inkling of trendiness about it. I've always been tremendously interested in fit and in the nuances of the physical form (a gift bestowed on me by teaching yoga). Moreover, I've always had a challenging shape to fit (from the boob perspective) so it behooved me to figure out what was going on, if only to make my life easier. I didn't imagine that my interest would become so structured. At this point, strangely, I've advised hundreds of women on bra fit via just about every channel I can think of. In just the past 10 days, I've spoken with three women on this journey. I'm particularly popular in my office, where random (female) colleagues sheepishly ask me to guess what bra size they should be wearing. For what it's worth, that's my party trick :-)
I take this work seriously. There are few things in this world more worthwhile, in my opinion, than facilitating someone's personal evolution, supporting one's improvement of self-image. And I've got to tell you I have never encountered a scenario in which a bra-change seeker has felt anything less than much better (if not utterly fantastic) for having learned tons of new info about how she's shaped and sized. I should also clarify that I have rarely (like count on one hand rarely) met anyone wearing the correct size from the get go. Most of the time, the fittee is wearing a band size 2 sizes larger than required and a cup size at least 3 sizes smaller than what's required. The larger or more projected the breasts (and the more the discrepancy between the "bra matrix" size that the woman has been wearing vs. the size she requires), the more extreme these ratios.
But for the sake of discussion, let's spend a few minutes on the women who are very pleased to have learned about their correct size, which is larger than they imagined, but who perhaps are less pleased overall with the new status quo... This does occasionally happen.
The question is why? And I suppose the answers are infinite, but I do like to narrow things down.
In my experience, most women start looking for a new bra when they've gained some weight. Why is this? Well, on most frames (and I'll speak in more detail about this in a moment), weight gain goes to breasts - either sooner or later. In some instances, the woman in question has gained a just a bit of weight (perhaps she doesn't even realize it) and it's gone everywhere (including her breasts). In other instances, the woman has gained a lot of weight, she knows it, and she realizes that nothing's fitting the way it did before. In truth, the likelihood is that neither of these categories of women were wearing the correct size to begin with - and mostly they were in a too-small size (thanks modern bra manufacturing industrial complex) from the get go. So when they're shown their correct size, it's nothing short of shocking for every reason.
On this topic, you don't need a PhD to know that modern people are much fatter than their fore parents. Hell, they're much fatter than their grandparents. Never mind the fact that we're unwittingly ingesting hormones at every turn (which may increase breast size) and constantly stressed, which also leads to weight-gain. It's no wonder that bras in the 32-38 A-DD size range - a relic of antiquity - aren't fitting a large complement of women in the western world. You're practically an outlier if they do.
Intriguingly, a limited subset of bra wearers do not gain weight in their breasts. Apparently, I fall into this subset, the members of which tend to be genetically large-breasted with a high degree of natural breast density.
I can assure you, lately I'm no stranger to the sinking feeling of having gained weight in a specific spot - in my case my, ahem, pillowesque lower abdomen. But in the last 15 years, I've deviated about half a cup size of volume from my personal norm. Now, by the same premise, I don't tend to lose volume from my breasts, except by dint of gravity. But, for those of you who may be uncomfortable with an increase in breast size due to weight gain, you've got the upper hand. Chances are, if you choose to, you'll be able to return to that size (albeit a larger one than you may have originally thought) via lifestyle change. (Note: From the vantage point of having boobs that don't get stretch marks or tend to sag, the woman who remains a constant size most definitely has the advantage.)
Remember, we're saying nothing of shape here, which is as relevant to the art of bra-fitting and breast happiness, as is size, if not more so. For a bit more on this topic, check out this post...
The Hard Edge of Bra Fitting
Being fitted for a bra for the first time - or the first time in a while - can be emotional. Sure, there are some people who love "gaining" two cup sizes. There are many who are so freakin' thrilled by how gorgeous their breasts look in a bra that suits their size and shape, that they cannot get over it, like, for months. But if you don't love what that fitting tells you - that you are carrying more mass in one place (or in a variety of places) than originally you believed - then it can really fuck with your body image. Yeah, now you've got great-looking boobs, but they're attached to a frame that - till 5 minutes ago - you saw through a rose-coloured lens.
- Some women just don't like the size of their breasts, a matter they're able to avoid considering by wearing a bra that's too small. Hey, it's valid to prefer breasts of whatever size most naturally appeals to you.
- Some women erroneously imagine that a bra fitting will change the shape of their breasts. While a good bra will most definitely improve shape under clothing - and while many women (including myself) assert that, over time, a well-fitting bra improves breast shape and buoyancy subtly - your breast shape is what it is. If your boobs sag in youth, if they sit higher or lower or wider or narrower or less or more projectedly than you prefer, alas, when you take off your bra, they're still going to do what they do.
- Some women wear clothing that doesn't suit their "new" size and shape, which can be a totally expensive pain in the ass. It's easier to dress in tops that are too tight in the bust if you're smushing your breasts with a bra that's too snug. I'd suggest those tops aren't doing anything for your figure overall, but certainly, some would disagree.
- Furthermore... some women find it extremely challenging to accept that a number and a letter, associated with newly-confirmed breast size, are simply that. Truthfully, I struggle with this because it's not a pragmatic approach, and I am nothing if not pragmatic.
Y'all know I like to see things as they are. That's why I carry a tape measure with me everywhere. That's why I know exactly how much circumference I've gained in my lower abdomen in the last 2 years. I'm much more inclined to see things clearly, no matter how unpleasant - and then to change them should I choose to (if that's in the cards) - than to wander along wearing things that don't fit. And that applies to every aspect of my life. As I've said a zillion times, your breasts are no different when you walk into your fitting than they are when you leave. They just look better.
I do realize that the women who struggle with the tag are generally struggling with something infinitely more worthwhile: identity. For some reason, lots of women can overlook a weight-gain of 10 pounds, for example, but breast size hits you where you live.
Breasts are a symbol of sexuality, of fertility, of maternity, of femininity, of female solidarity, of youth (and its counterpart age). They should be perfect (whatever that means to you), so we tell ourselves. And when perfect means "mainstream", as we understand it, then leaving that comfort zone can be a mind fuck.
The irony is that the very thing that changes your breast size (not shape), much of the time, is that 10 pounds. (Note: I'm speaking of the pre-menopausal among us. Once estrogen goes wonky, all bets are off.)
So I'm going to tell it like it is:
If you are confident that you've been properly fitted and you just don't like the number and the letter associated with your boobs, you owe it to yourself to figure that shit out.
- If it's because you never thought you could possibly fit into a 36G (for example), check out one of the numerous resources that shows you lots of breasts (in bras) of that same size. You will be amazed by how normal those breasts look. Really, there are not so many of us who fall outside of the spectrum of regular.
- If it's because you've always thought your tits were too big and you loathe them (and this new info vindicates your concerns), then consider whether weight loss would likely make some difference, or whether you fall into that category of women for whom weight-loss and breast-size decrease are not aligned. For the woman in the second category, there's always surgery. That's is a big step, it goes without saying, and I would always recommend that a woman try to find pleasure in the appearance of her breasts before taking irretrievable action. But it stands to reason, there are some women who will never enjoy the breasts they were born with. Some breasts are just at odds with the body they've been given to. Some breasts are clincially ptotic to begin with, that's how they were made. Extremes of this shape (especially in larger sizes) are not a good look, according to most. If you had a nose that you really didn't like, chances are you'd change it. Life is too short to be unhappy with your appearance.
- If it's because you used to fit into a certain bra size and it was the size at which you could relate to your breasts, nay, delight in your breasts, then seriously consider making a lifestyle adjustment. You might well be able to affect adequate change in the number or the letter just by losing a few pounds. Will either be as small as you would like? Well, that depends on your goals, the extent of your efforts and your genetic predisposition.
Having said all this, I assure you, it's often easier to adjust your attitude than it is to change your body substantively. Most of us will gain weight as we age. And most of us will gain breast volume as we gain weight. How much does this bother you? Or is it simply a numbers game?