Monday, July 6, 2015

5 Things You Shouldn't Say To A Busty Woman
If you have a large bust then at some time in your life chances are someone has commented on them, maybe passed judgement on them or asked you about them. This happens to a lot of women regardless of their bust size but for women with larger breasts these questions can be frequent, repetitive, boring and upsetting. Here are 5 things that you should never say to a busty woman:

"You're so lucky!"
We don't know how to respond to this. "Sure, I love that my genetics gave me lucky big boobs." Are we lucky that our breasts attract a lot of sexual harassment and judgement? Are we lucky that it's hard to find clothes and bras that fit? Are we lucky that large breasts can be hot and painful and cumbersome? This can be a very confusing statement for someone who doesn't like their large bust and even if we're completely happy with our breasts they still require effort so please don't tell us we're lucky.

"Oh, your poor back!"
Millions of women with large breasts don't have back pain so don't assume that we do as though our breasts are a problem. Most women find that with proper bra fit (which invariably means firm band and smooth cups) that they don't get any back pain.

"Can I touch them?"
No. No you can't. I am always amazed by this one. Touching another person's body, any part of their body, is at their invitation and consent. Just because large breasts may be a novelty to you does not mean our breasts are an amusement

"I'd hate to have breasts that big"
Well then, lucky for you that you don't. This kind of unwarranted comment is such an insult. You don't have to like or want larger breasts but you also don't have to share your opinion with other people, especially those people who have larger breasts and may actually like their body. Say this to someone who is struggling with their body image and you've inflicted a really painful and damaging blow so just don't say it.

"How do you sleep/run/swim/lie down/function with those things?"
My first instinct is "None of your business" unless it's someone struggling to come to accept and manage their own large bust. Every person has their own physical story and manages their life accordingly. Large breasts can require some management for how you lie down and run etc, but how each person manages that is their own business and does not need to be explained to others.

Even if you know someone really well asking these kinds of questions or making these remarks can leave a person feeling self-conscious. Every woman is SO much more than her breasts so don't reduce someone to this one physical feature with irrelevant, invasive and stupid boob comments. xx

Monday, June 22, 2015

How To Survive a Bra Shopping Trip to the Mall

A couple of weeks ago I shared an article from Buzzfeed about one woman's trip to the mall to find a bra. She visited 6 stores and was given 8 different sizes to try on. The article is a brilliant example of how confusing and misleading bra shopping can be. I felt so sorry for Kristin as she was put in size after size without being offered any explanation as to why some styles fit her better than others. Kristin has a tall shallow bust and needs a fitter who can explain which features to look for in a bra (besides size) to get a great fit.

Naturally I think online bra shopping is a great option (especially with us!) but I also want to arm you with the survival skills you need for a bra shopping trip to the mall. You need to be prepared because in some stores you're going to find poor fit advice and a sales hungry, rather than fit focused, sales person.

If your fitter measures over the top of your breasts then you know it's a bad fitting!

There are a few things you should expect from a fitting:
  1. You should expect to have a friendly, respectful and courteous fitter who listens to you.
  2. Some fitters will not use a tape measure and as long as you end up liking the bra and fit then that's OK but the very act of not using a tape measure does not make a fitter right.
  3. If your fitter does use a tape measure then she should stand behind you and take your measurements with your bra on but your top off. If you are anxious about taking off your top then make sure you wear a fine material (like a t-shirt) so that your measurements aren't distorted by a heavy fabric.
  4. Your fitter should measure around your ribcage (where your band sits) and around the fullest part of your bust over the nipples. If your fitter measures over the top of your breasts, under your armpits, then leave the fitting because they don't know what they're doing.
Survival Skills
You can learn a lot from a good bra fitter but it's also good to be on your guard ready to spot a bad fitter. After putting you in a bra the fitter should adjust your straps for you and ensure your breasts are settled correctly in the cups by pulling slightly on the tops of the cups and possibly asking you to move your breasts. Once this is done a good fitter will ask you how the bra feels. A good fitter knows that a bra has to feel right to the client.

The empty cup at the bottom of Kristin's cups is caused by the wires being too long for her breast height

There are lots of nuances to bra fit but there are 3 really obvious fit signs you can learn to make sure you're not being cornered into a bra that's not right for you:
  1. The band should feel secure and not easily pulled away from the body more than an inch. It can feel snug, that's natural for a new bra, but it shouldn't be painful.
  2. The cups should not wrinkle, gape or have breast tissue spilling out of the front, sides or worst of all there should not be breast tissue below the band.
  3. If you can see flat empty cup underneath your breasts (like the image above from the Buzzfeed article) but the cups look to fit nicely at the top, then the wires of the bra are too long and this style will not work for you. Ask your fitter for styles with shorter wires.
Don't Be Afraid To Give Feedback
Bras and bra fitting can be intimidating and it's easy to assume that your bra fitter knows best but they can only do their best if you give them honest feedback so tell your fitter what you think of the fit. You can learn more about your fit from a great fitter but ultimately you need to be happy and comfortable in the fit so your opinion really matters! xx

Monday, June 8, 2015

I Wish I Could Stop These 3 Bra Worries

There are 3 big bra fit worries that cause women to make bad bra fit choices. I wish I could stop the worry because a lot of the time it stems from how we think other people see us which shouldn't be the reason we make choices. Hopefully one day most women won't worry about the size, shape or sheer presence of their breasts. Until then I want to share why trying to 'cover up' your breast worries with these 3 bad fit choices doesn't help you at all.

1) Wearing a loose bra band because you're worried about back fat and think a loose band makes it less noticeable.

I'm afraid the loose band only rides up your back and takes any excess skin and fat with it.

In a well-fitting bra the excess fat bulges around the back of your armpit where you can see it. In a loose band the fat either gets pulled up between your shoulder blades or pushed down towards the middle of your back where you can't necessarily see it. The big difference is that now the bra is also putting a huge strain on the nerves and muscles in your neck which can cause trapped nerves, headaches and pain.

Related Article: Bra Fit and Back Fat

Your health and comfort are so much better in a well-fitting bra. I know I'm not going to convince everyone that the fat you can see just doesn't matter (it doesn't!) so if it really bothers you you can smooth it out with deep band or shapewear.

The fat is there no matter what band you wear but not wearing a supportive bra because you're worried about back fat is ultimately a disservice to your physical and mental well-being.

2) Wearing cups and/or a band that's too big so that your boobs don't look as big.

Boobs size is all relative. Your breasts may seem huge to you but are average size, even small, to someone else. Your breasts may seem huge to you because of the stereotypes someone else's ignorance has drummed into you. Your breasts may be huge... AND THAT'S OK!

One thing is for sure, when you wear a bra that's too big in the band and/or cups then your breasts will look larger than they are. This is because the breast tissue spreads wide across your body so appear to take up more surface area. By getting your breasts into a smaller, narrower wire your breasts won't look as big so it's worth getting your size checked with a free bra size consultation.

Image has been airbrushed around the nipple at the model's request

3) Wearing smooth cup bras because you worry that someone will see the seams of your bra through your clothing.

This is something I've written about a lot because seam fear, especially in North America, is keeping women from the support they need. Smooth bras don't work for everyone because some breast shapes and weights need the support and shaping of seams to get the healthiest and most comfortable fit.

If you worry about seams then I urge you to read these two articles and give a seamed bra another chance!

Sorry to Break it to You but People Know You're Wearing a Bra
Smooth Cup Bras: Fit, Health and Body Shame

I'd love everyone to have a happy and comfortable relationship with their bras. Working through your bra worries is an important part of better, happier bra fit xx

Monday, May 25, 2015

How Long Does it Take to Move Migrated Breast Tissue?

One of the most common side effects of wearing the wrong bra size (or style) for a long period of time is migrated breast tissue. Migrated breast tissue is fatty breast tissue that gets displaced from the main mass of fatty breast tissue into the area around your armpit. This is usually caused by the edge of a cup that is too small or positioned in the wrong place due to a band that rides up and tilts the cups forward. The edge of a cup that's in the wrong place bisects the breast tissue forcing some fatty tissue outside the cup into your armpit.

You can move this tissue back into your cup by getting good bra fit which essentially stops the pressure that bisects your breast tissue. The time it takes to move tissue back into your cups depends on a few things:
    1. How much tissue has been displaced
    2. How long the tissue has been displaced
    3. The density of the breast tissue
1. It's not uncommon for a cup size or more of tissue to be displaced. I have helped a lot of Butterfly Collection clients move their migrated breast tissue back into their cups and on average a cup of displaced tissue takes 6-12 months to migrate back into the cup.

2. If your breast tissue has been displaced for 15+ years it can take longer for the tissue to be repositioned back into the cup. The skin that bisects the main breast tissue mass and the displaced tissue can become toughened from the daily pressure of an ill fitting bra. In a well-fitting bra the pressure is relieved and over time the bisect tissue will soften and the tissue migration back into the cup can begin. My clients with 15+ years of migrated tissue find that it takes about 18 months to migrate tissue back into the cups.

3. In my experience dense breast tissue migrates back into the cup faster than soft breast tissue. I have tried to find the medical reason for this but as of yet I'm still not 100% sure why. I'm assuming that the connective tissue between the fat cells are closer together so as one cell is moved back into the cup the adjoining cells follow on quickly. As the fat cells in soft breast tissue are farther apart this may explain why migrating soft breast tissue back into the cups takes a little longer.

If you are attempting to migrate tissue back into your cups then remember to be prepared for an increase in cup volume or a change in breast shape. It's probably a good idea to invest in just two or three well-fitting bras while you migrate your breast tissue and wait to assess any size or shape change before going to town on an array of lovely well-fitting bras! xx

Monday, May 11, 2015

Smooth Cup Bras: Fit, Health and Body Shame

Whether you call them smooth cup bras, t-shirt bras or molded bras the result is the same; a smooth, seamless look under clothing. This look can be really sleek and stylish but the smooth bra can also be a curse. In today's special we're going to look at the different kinds of smooth cup bra, whether they're right for you, and how smooth cups are part of the body shame problem. 

Deco Vibe (left) is a fixed smooth cup. Versailles (right) is a soft smooth cup.

Fixed or Soft
The most prolific smooth cup bra is a fixed molded bra, one that keeps its shape even when it's not on your body. There is also a soft smooth cup option. The cups are still smooth but the material isn't rigid like a fixed cup. Fixed cup smooth bras tend to have a little padding to them because the material has to be thick enough to hold its shape. Soft smooth cup bras tend to be made of lighter material. There's also a halfway option which is the spacer bra. Spacer bra cups are less rigid than a fixed cup but not as lightweight as a soft smooth cup.

Spacer bras, like Profile Perfect, are less rigid than fixed cups and breathable

A fixed smooth cup gives a predictable shape, disguises nipples and evens out the appearance of asymmetrical breasts. The downside is that if your breasts don't closely match the pre-fixed shape of the cup you're going to get gaping which can lead to compromised support and chafing. A soft smooth cup can be adapted more easily to accommodate the natural shape of your breasts (by adjusting the straps) but can't disguise nipples as easily because the fabric is thinner.

Support and Health
A well-fitting smooth bra can give you great support but for a lot of women smooth cup support isn't enough and that's because smooth cup bras don't have seams. Seams are like boob scaffolding. In a smooth cup your breast tissue floods the cup shape, which is usually round and wide or round and plunged. In a seamed bra the seams direct the breast tissue up, forward or wide depending on the angle of the seams. Very heavy breasts need excellent support to lift the tissue up and away from the body (this is good for your health as it stops heat and sweat getting trapped between your breasts and body which can cause rashes and irritations).

This is why seamless bras aren't generally available over a 36GG, because breast volumes over this simply couldn't be supported by a seamless bra.

Full bust bra seams not only help with upward lift of your bust but they also reinforce the strength of the cup which reduces bounce which in turn reduces the impact stress across your whole bra. This lessens the strain on your back and neck.  If you have heavy breasts then look for a soft smooth cup bra with double lined cups because the additional material will provide some of the cup reinforcement that reduces stress. Basic Beauty from Wacoal is a very supportive double-layered t-shirt bra.

Women with shallow breasts or hollowing at the armpit will almost certainly be faced with empty cup space in a smooth cup bra, especially a fixed smooth cup. Sometimes you can come down a cup size to offset the gaping but this doesn't always work. For example, Deco by Freya, which is their signature style, is pretty tall in the cups so no matter how much you come down in volume the cups still gape on a shallow bust because the cups always come up higher than your breast tissue. If you have shallow breasts then you're best option is to go with a soft smooth cup bra option from brands like Fantasie (Echo Lace) or Parfait (Jeanie) that make shorter cups.

Body Shaming
If bras were fruit then the smooth cup bra is like strawberries. So good to look at, easy to eat and gives thousands of people allergic reactions! But imagine if those people who are allergic to strawberries were made to feel that they had to eat strawberries in order to fit in because strawberries are the only acceptable fruit in North America? Smooth bras are not right for everyone but lots of women wear them because they feel that their breasts would be 'too obvious' or 'inappropriate' in anything other than a smooth bra. This is when smooth bras become a real problem.

Because of the high-visibility of brands like Victoria's Secret and La Senza who trade almost exclusively in smooth cup bras, it has become default that breasts should be rounded, smooth, nipple free and 'modest'. The idea that seams bring attention to your breasts is holding some women prisoner in smooth cup bras.

I have lost count of the number of emails I've had from women who are terrified to wear anything other than a smooth bra for fear of their boobs looking too big or obvious or inappropriate. Thankfully I've also lost count of the number of women we've helped break free from their smooth dependence and embrace different styles.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't wear smooth cup bras but I am saying that you shouldn't wear them to keep other people happy or to conform to what social convention says your breasts should look like. Smooth cup bras should be one arrow in your quiver of bra styles and support. They are one look that you can choose to wear, or choose NOT to wear. xx