Monday, October 15, 2012

The Shame of Big Boobs: Claudia's Story

The contents of this blog post are from an email I received from a woman who wanted to share her story of life in big boobs. I am always so touched when women get in touch to say that they want to help other women come to terms with and feel proud of their boobs. If Claudia's story reaches just one woman feeling ashamed of her breasts and helps her feel like she's not alone then it's a wonderful gift. My personal thanks to Claudia xx

Claudia's Story 
My name is Claudia, I’m a 25-year-old Italian girl and my adventure in bra-fitting began six months ago. When I came across your site by chance, I instantly fell in love. The passion you put in what do you is palpable in every word. I felt the urge to share my story with you and your readers because maybe it can help other women who are experiencing what I went through until not too long ago.

After years of being stuck in the wrong size and loathing for my boobs I ultimately decided to get a breast reduction. Since then, my life has changed. I now share your understanding of how important a good fitting is for women with big boobs.

A Child in a Grown-up Body
Ever since I hit puberty, I’ve had big boobs. They developed so fast that at the age of 11 I needed to buy my first bra. I was still a child, even though my body had suddenly decided to change and move into woman territory. I was shocked, I was ashamed, my boobs were my enemies, because I was the only one among my friends and classmates with “those things” and, mostly, I wasn’t ready for the strange stares that started coming my way, often from men the age of my dad and often followed by rude, offensive comments. I would have done everything to hide that unwanted presence that kept growing on my chest.

At the age of 20 my breasts stopped their development and I ended up with what I used to call “my ginormous, ugly boobs”, which were a nightmare to dress, carry around, live with, and totally disproportionate compared to my otherwise petite body. Men kept ogling at them whenever I went, I even received inappropriate looks/comments from other women, sports were a problem, the idea of going to the beach almost made me cry and jeez, they were heavy! Bra shopping? A living hell, a dreadful, humiliating, frustrating experience.

The Nightmare of Bra Shopping
When I bought my first bra, and up until relatively recently, every store only had sizes that went from 1 to 4, sometimes 5. These numbers are the old-fashioned Italian bra sizing system, 1 means “very small breasts AND ribcage measurement”, size 5 means “OMG you’re boobs are huge and so must be your band size”, and everything in between. If you wanted something bigger than size 5, you had to visit a specialized store, where the styles were for your grandmother, cost a fortune, and big cups were only on big bands. A few years ago the number/letter system reached Italy, but even now only a couple of brands offer a decent range of sizes. For the record, they don’t fit me and I must shop online.

I knew big cup/big band bras clearly weren’t a good fit – they didn’t stay in place, offered no support and uplift, my boobs spilled over the top and the sides, wires poked here and there, straps dug into my shoulders – but I kept buying and wearing them because they were the only pretty bras I could find. I can’t even begin to count how many saleswomen have looked at me like I was some kind of alien, with either a pitying or a you’re-so-damn-lucky expression. I definitely didn’t think of myself as lucky, I envied the small-busted girls who could find tons of lovely bras and didn’t have to hide their boobs, but I totally understood the pitying stares. If you live in a world where big boob stereotypes are everywhere and you can’t find bras, swimwear and clothes that are good for you, self-loathing and shame are an easy mistake. And when “bra fitting” is a meaningless concept, no one teaches you that it’s not your fault if manufacturers are ignorant, that a 32-38 A-D range is extremely limited, that the “plus 4” method is wrong… well, being stuck in the wrong size for years is even easier.

The Consequences of Bad Bras
I spent more than 10 years of my life blaming myself and my curves, torturing my boobs with horrendously ill-fitting bras and thinking there was something wrong with me. The consequences, of course, didn’t only affect me emotionally; wearing bras that were too big in the band and too small in the cups also had a major impact on my posture, breast tissue (aka migration) and health, the lack of proper support leading to severe neck, shoulder and back pain.

Two years ago I decided I’d had enough, and finally found the courage to have the reduction I’d been dreaming of for a long time. To make it short: surgery went well, my boobs were still big but proportional to my body and I was extremely pleased with the result. Do I regret it now? More on this later.

Being at Peace with my Boobs
So… I didn’t hate my boobs anymore (I loved them, actually), but unfortunately I kept wearing the wrong size for the same reasons as before. Things changed six months ago, when for the first time I considered the option of online shopping; deep inside of me I knew there had to be pretty, not too expensive bras for big-busted women. I Googled a few keywords and… discovered a whole new world. I learned how sizing works; that you don’t have to add inches to your underbust measurement to determine your band size; that DD+ cups really exist and no, it’s nothing scary; that yes, I can find pretty and sexy bras in my size; how to tell if a bra is a good fit or not. All this, and much more.

I will NEVER forget the feeling of wearing a well-fitting bra for the first time. So supportive and comfortable! And what an amazing silhouette! I looked thinner because my boobs were where they are supposed to be and not near my navel, I could lift my arms up and bend over without worry because they were perfectly encased in the cups. No more back rolls, no more discomfort, no more quadraboob. My posture? I couldn’t believe the difference.

Back to my breast reduction… I don’t regret it. I decided to have surgery for many reasons and one of them is that in spite of everything I didn’t like my boobs, aesthetically speaking. I’m happier now, I think they better suit my body. But all that self-loathing, the frustration, having to deal with constant pain? Ah, if only I had well-fitting bras back then, if only proper bra fitting was common knowledge! I would have chosen to have a reduction nevertheless, but I’m sure my journey toward self-confidence and acceptance of my curves would have been easier. And this is the point I’m trying to make with my overly long story. Wearing the right bra has been a total life changer for me and I took the matter to heart; I keep reading as much as I can on bra fitting, I try to educate women, and I have a dream: a world where no woman is ashamed of her boobs because of stupid myths and thinks she’s a freak just because she needs bras in sizes that aren’t always available due to manufacturer’s ignorance. Not all body image issues would be magically resolved, of course, because self-confidence is a complex thing. But it would be an important achievement nonetheless.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing my story with your readers, means a lot to me! :) Claudia

    1. It's wonderful of you to share your experiences with other women. Thank you xx

  2. Oh Claudia! How well I know your story! I grew up in a large family of nine, with 3 older sisters, none of whom had big boobs like mine were. In our family, hand-me-downs were common, and that included the bras my sister no longer used. I was also very young, and the 'training' bras that fit my sisters were no match for my expanding chest. I can still feel the red, hot flush of embarrasment having to wear this too small piece of clothing and having the boys oogle me and make their rude, little-boy comments and then try to cop a feel while we're out on the playground and the teacher has us all playing 'touch' football.
    I am now in my mid 50s. I haven't been able to have a breast reduction for various reasons, but I DID find this amazing website and been able to finally find bras that fit! Thank you Claire and Lucy!

    1. I'm so glad that you have finally found a fit and place to feel comfortable. It really is better late than never to find great bra fit xx