Modesty and Big Boobs: “We have a great selection of minimizers!”

This post is part of The Modesty Panel, a series that myself and a handful of other bloggers are involved in this week that discusses the issue of modesty from many various perspectives. Be sure to read some of the other bloggers’ posts (as they appear during the week), because they are all fantastic! Here are the other participants (bolded if they’ve already posted theirs):

Boosaurus     BralessinBrasil     BrasandBodyImage     ByBabysRules     ContraryKiwi     FussyBusty (Nicole)     FussyBusty (Amy)    MissUnderpinnings     SophiaJenner    SophisticatedPair      Hourglassy (Darlene)     Hourglassy (Leah)     Hourglassy (Shana)     Hourglassy (Tina)     ThinandCurvy      Undiegamer     RedHairandGirlyFlair    WeirdlyShapedandWellPhotographed    ObsessedWithBreasts      NothingEverFits     TitRambler

One of the biggest reasons I decided to become an advocate for proper bra fit can be perfectly symbolized by one article of clothing: the Minimizer bra.

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“Oh, goodness,” the fitter exclaims as she finishes measuring you, “it looks like you might need a DD cup! (Replace “DD” with any bra size above D.) This isn’t new information to you, but the fitter is shocked to be dealing with “such large boobs.” The fitter then makes the assumption that we all dread: “That’s okay, we have a great selection of minimizers! I’ll go grab you some.” And suddenly, without your consent, your wonderful boobs have been reduced to problematic eyesores that need to be covered, contained, flattened, and hidden in the name of “modesty.”

This narrative is, unfortunately, all-too-common. This isn’t just about the badly trained fitters at the mall who don’t have any manners: This is about Katy Perry’s boobs being photoshopped to look smaller for VH1. This is about every fashion magazine ever having a never-ending list of “fashion no-nos” for busty ladies, including rules like “do everything you can to distract from the bust area” and “don’t draw any attention to your bustline.” This is about our well-meaning 34B friends notifying us that our bra straps are showing (OH NO!), clueless about how hard it is to find a good large-cup strapless/racerback bra. (“omg, just get a racerback, DUH.”) This is about a busty teenaged girl being told by her principal that if she wants to stop being bullied, she should just get a breast reduction. This is about fashion bloggers suggesting that “busty types should invest in a good minimizer bra,” especially in a corporate atmosphere. (You want to be taken seriously at a job, and we all know nobody can do that if you have boobs!) Why do so many people think that it’s okay to tell busty women that they need to “contain their boobs” in order look decent, slimmer, more employable, smarter, less like a freak, more proportional, and much more?

Although there are many reasons why people think this is okay (and I may be oversimplifying them here), a big reason is because boobs are tied unreasonably tightly to sex. Some idiots still believe (mostly subconsiously) that a woman would only have big boobs if she wanted sexual attention. As if one can wish for her boobs to grow “so that boys will like her.” (Not to be heteronormative, because not every woman wants male attention (hell, not every straight woman wants male attention), but this is what people generally think.) There are even some cultures where people believe that when a teenaged girl’s boobs grow larger, it is a sign that she has had [or will have] sex [soon]. So of course these girls are punished for this. For having boobs.

To make things even worse, the “solutions” offered to “fix big boobs” are often drastic and recommended thoughtlessly. The two big suggestions are the minimizer bra and the breast reduction. I have nothing against either, but these two things should not be recommended on a whim! Breast reduction surgery has all types of risks associated with it (and your boobs might actually grow back!), and should be a personal choice—not a silver-bullet solution to clothing/fashion woes, mysterious back pain, or being a victim of bullying. While minimizers may seem like a more reasonable alternative to a reduction, they have their problems too: they’re designed to squish your breasts back into your ribcage, so they can cause distortion/tissue migration. This is not so bad if they’re not worn very often, but when everyday wear is suggested thoughtlessly, this becomes a problem.

Not only that, but many minimizers are actually not available in very big cup sizes. The majority of minimizers in the US generally don’t go above a US H cup… which is a UK FF. There exists at least 8 cup sizes above that. For comparison, here are some FF cups vs. some K cups. So what do the FF+ women who want a minimizer wear? Well, usually, a minimizer in the wrong size.

 

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Which is more minimizing (and more comfortable): the 38D minimizer on the left, or the 34GG halfcup on the right?

 

And, as you know if you read my blog regularly, the easiest way for a busty lady to make her boobs look bigger is to wear the wrong size. (Conversely, the easiest way for a small-busted lady to make her boobs look smaller is to wear the wrong size, but that’s a topic for another day.) It’s as if minimizers were invented to cover up a bad fit! We see this with all types of bra styles and gimmicks. A-DD brands are always making minimizers, add-2-cup-sizes, “barely there” underwire, laser-cut smooth bands, etc, etc. Most of these problems can be solved (or at least remedied) with a better size: underwires already feel “barely there” in the right size (and style), and back fat is a result of a too-big band riding up. Full bust brands like Freya, Panache, and Curvy Kate (and small-bust brands like the Little Bra Company) don’t need to make any of these things, because making a large size range is often enough to fix a lot of these common complaints. (Although I do wish they would dabble in some of the comfy features like padded underwire! Right size + comfy features = dream bra!) But, unfortunately, A-DD companies are usually stubborn about their size range and fit advice, and it’s cheaper for them to produce these gimmick bras than it is to make 80+ sizes (like Curvy Kate’s 94 sizes below) instead of ~15-25 (like Victoria’s Secret’s 26 sizes).

 

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Curvy Kate makes 28-40 D-K and 42-44 D-G, 96 sizes

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Victoria’s Secret makes 32-40 B-DDD, and 30A-B in a few other styles, which at its best is still only 27 sizes

I realize that this post has been a bit all over the place, but modesty is such a huge and complicated topic—my intent was to focus on how big boobs are considered anti-modest, and how upsetting it is that the solutions offered to the so-called “problem” that big boobs present aren’t even reasonable for most people. The main idea, I suppose, is that there is a huge misunderstanding of big boobs in our culture. The myths about big boobs spread to so many aspects of life: from hurtful stereotypes about promiscuous bimbos, to misconceptions about fashion/bras and how to actually “fix” what is not broken. So many aspects of our lives are affected by something that isn’t talked about often enough, and I’m hoping that by talking openly about boobs, bras, and how they fit together, I can open up room in our society to discuss this often “hushed” topic. This is a big reason about why bra fit is so dear to my heart, and why I blog about it even though I am not a writer by any means. After all, we can’t make positive changes in society if we never talk about what’s wrong with the current setup.

Special thanks to anonymous for permission to use the minimizer comparison pictures!