Think that the grass must be greener on the other side? Check our opinion piece on having small breasts.
by Caroline Thirkill
I feel like every time I open my mouth to talk about this specific problem, I immediately get pounced on by my smaller-breasted brethren – “Girl, what are you talking about? I’m so jealous of your breasts!” or, “Oh please, your boobs are fine, no one judges you for it!” and the ever popular, “Why are you complaining, I bet guys ask you out constantly?!” You might not know it, but all of these replies are a huge issue for those of us with larger than average bust size.
Let’s start with the simple, or possibly seeming silly things. I can’t go to normal shops like Victoria’s Secret for my bras, because they simply don’t carry my size. There is apparently a ban on sexy bras for larger breasted girls; most are plain tan, white, or black, with little to no decoration. My “oversize” bras also cost at least twenty dollars more than “regular” bras, so it can get incredibly expensive. Packing for trips is difficult because bras with my cup size take up half my suitcase. I can’t wear clothes in most popular styles or with normal designs on them because they stretch and look distorted over my chest – I have to home tailor most of my nice shirts just so they fit! I need to change clothes after cooking, because I almost always get splatter under my boobs exactly where I can’t see them. I can’t wear large jewelry because it doesn’t lie correctly on me. When people ask me out on dates, I always wonder if it is because my personality or my breast size. For God’s sake, I can’t even give hugs without pressing against people in possibly inappropriate ways.
How about some more difficult things? I have been in constant physical pain since I hit puberty because of the size of my breasts. If I am not continually paying attention to my posture, I wind up with backaches that last for days. Particularly in situations where I wind-up hunching over accidentally, such as reading small text in books for school, or falling asleep in the middle of an attempted all-nighter. I also happen to be pretty tall, so I’m told I need to slouch in the movie theater so the people behind me can see. I have to specially prepare for exercise because of my breasts, and even in a correctly fitting sports bra the pain from their weight becomes un-manageable in the space of a few hours of work out – particularly if my back and shoulders are already hurting from a day of bad posture. It makes working out and therefore being healthy and “skinny” difficult, and some days impossible.
I have been threatened with being fired because my shirt is “inappropriate for the work place,” when the small-breasted girl next to me is wearing the exact same shirt. People will tell me that my bra strap is showing and that it is offensive, or that my bra is showing through my sleeve-hole and I shouldn’t let that happen, or – oh, the horror – the top of bra is above my shirt’s neck line. I deeply apologize that the only shirts my size that cover up absolutely everything about my bra are turtlenecks. This is what is called body policing, and I hear it almost everyday of my life. It is not the place of a stranger on the subway to tell me what I can and cannot show “for my own good,” especially when it is something so out of my control.
Most importantly, just because my boobs are large and inescapably more on display than other girls’, does not mean that you are entitled to touch my body without permission. Ever. I have been groped on street corners, subway trains, buses – any public area you can imagine, people have physically interacted with me in a way that makes me unsettled and uncomfortable with myself. Even more insidious, is that people feel entitled to comment on the body of a woman with particularly large and noticeable breasts. This goes beyond body policing, deep into issues of displays of sexual superiority and dominance in public. I had an early and rapid puberty, which means I’ve had random people on the street, especially men, saying inappropriate things to me about my breast size since I was twelve years old. When this sort of harassment starts at such a young age, it becomes deeply ingrained in your psyche. It is a deeply problematic issue in many ways, two of which are most important to me. Firstly and most obviously, this sort of public sexual attention terrifies me – the idea that I am open to be objectified by absolutely anyone, anywhere, because of something completely out of my control and comfort zone is incredibly stressful, especially when I am walking alone in the city at night. Secondly, and perhaps even more disturbingly, I have found that I am slightly dependent on it; since it has been happening to me on a near daily basis for almost eight years, it has become part of the way I view myself and the way I look. When no one says anything to me, I begin to worry that the way I’ve presented myself that day is somehow bad or off-putting – if I normally get harassed, what have I done wrong that it isn’t happening today? Despite knowing that a lack of such commentary is a good thing, that people are respecting my boundaries as a person, it still makes me disoriented. This duality in the way such commentary affects me is indescribably unsettling and reveals larger issues with the way today’s society thinks about ownership of women’s bodies.
In conclusion, I hate it when people dismiss the concerns of women with large breasts. Sure, there are perks to having big boobs, but in my opinion they pale in comparison to the problems they cause. Most of the time they make me doubt myself, my body image, and the intentions of the people around me. They make the stupidest and most random things in life harder, and – as I’m sure has come across in the tone of this article – they are incredibly frustrating. If you doubt my word on it, go to this website and take a few moments to read Busty Girl Comics. They present a funny and non-judgmental way of thinking about the perks and problems of being a busty girl. Happy reading!
Caroline Thirkill is a junior at Barnard and Opinions Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.
Images courtesy of Busty Girl Comics.