Monday, March 26, 2012

Big Boobs Equals More Confidence - Unless You Actually Have Big Boobs Apparently!

Gossard recently commissioned research with Manchester University to study the correlation between enhanced cleavage and improved confidence. The research is for the launch of Gossard's Super Egoboost bra which gives small busted women a larger cup size and more pronounced cleavage. The research measured actual physical signs of confidence and found that women wearing the Super Egoboost displayed more confidence:
  1. Smiling - which represents positive emotion and signals confidence increased dramatically by 73 per cent when the women were wearing a push up bra. 
  2. Averting gaze and breaking eye contact - normally associated with low confidence - decreased by 41 per cent. 
  3. Self-comforting hand movements such as stroking of the chin or wiping the forehand, which is a signpost to low self confidence, decreased by 64 per cent during the trial. 
One Rule for Small Boobs, Another for Big Ones
It's fascinating to me that small busted women feel more confident with a larger bust when I know that a lot of big busted women feel less confident because they're busty. Why is there such a disconnect between the two? If this research were true for all women then we busty girls should be overflowing with confidence when in reality some busty women go to extreme measures to hide their shape.

Control and Options
I wonder whether there's something empowering about having the option to be big or small busted that is unique to smaller breasted women. If you're a 34B then you can choose to be small busted and demure or you can whack on your ultra boosting push up bra and rock an hourglass figure. Do busty women tire of only ever being busty?
Why do lots of naturally busty women feel like the woman on the right and not the one on the left!?
Why Aren't Busty Women More Confident?
I meet women every week who don't like being busty and it always makes my heart sad. I truly believe that not having adequate bra support (physically and emotionally) from an early age undermines the confidence necessary to fend off the ignorant comments busty women inevitably experience at some point. It's such a shame that busty women who haven't been emotionally supported can't enjoy being busty and just ignore the moronic stereotypes and jibes - it's all just jealousy!

Wearing the wrong bra for a long time doesn't help either; it doesn't just wear down your shoulders it wears down your happiness. How are you supposed to feel happy, let alone confident, when you're in pain and your boobs move independently of you?

Being in the right bra gives you back control over your breasts
The Right Bra and Confidence
I know that when I'm in a bra that I love I feel even more positive about the clothes I wear over the top and about the way I look. Wearing the correct size and style of bra for you won't solve your confidence issues over night but with time it will give you a degree of control back over your body and that is an empowering thing.

Let's face it you can't compare a foam-filled bra with the natural tissue that makes up your beautiful and natural boobs; a push-up bra isn't subject to the laws of gravity! I'm a firm believer that when you put good stuff in, good stuff comes of it, so start a new relationship with your breasts and get them into the right bra for you and your life. More than just your confidence can improve.

Are you someone who has made the journey from hiding your breasts to feeling confident about your shape? I'd love to hear your personal story xx

Monday, March 19, 2012

Don't Hate on The Tape Measure!

Over the last couple of weeks a press release about measuring for bra size has been doing the rounds. The University of Plymouth research suggests that using a tape measure leads to inaccurate bra size results, however, nowhere in any of the articles I've read does it say what measurements people were taking or what they were doing with them. It's yet another half story that does more bra harm than good!

What's the Rest of the Story?!
Maybe I agree with this research, maybe I don't but I need more info to find out. Is it suggesting that using a tape measure to find your band size then adding inches to the measurement gives you inaccurate results? If so I agree wholeheartedly. Is it suggesting that trying to find your bra size by wrapping a tape measure around your back then pulling it up through your armpits and resting on your sternum is about as effective as measuring your feet to find your hat size? Then I say Hurrah! But nowhere does it say how the tape measure is being used, it just takes a cheap shot at the humble tape measure.

I hear and read people deriding the tape measure all the time. The common retort is that getting fitted in-store is the best solution. Of course a good bra fitter is a wonderful thing to have but MILLIONS of women do not have access to a good bra fitter (working in a store doesn't automatically make you a good fitter). Not having access to a physical store does not mean you have to languish in a painful bra. With a tape measure and good bra knowledge, you're well on your way to finding your own best fit!

The Five Step Check to Fit
The recent research promotes that a 5 step approach to fit is the best way to find your size and I absolutely agree, however, I don't think this is an either or scenario - the tape measure can help you get a perfect 5 step fit a good deal faster if you use it correctly.

No matter how you get measured for a bra the Fit Check still applies. You can walk yourself through the Five Fit Checks and work out if your bra fits you.

1) All of your breast tissue must sit inside the cup. This includes the breast tissue at the sides, top and middle - it all wants to be inside the cup! If you're spilling you need a bigger cup. If the cup is baggy, you need a smaller one.

2) Your band should be snug which means it stays securely in place around your body without pinching you. If your band is too loose your bra will move causing you discomfort. If your band is too tight, it hurts!

3) The gore (the centre part at the front) needs to lie flat against your body without poking into you. If the gore doesn't lie flat it means either your band is too big or your cups are too small.

4)  Straps should not dig into your shoulders, if they do then it's likely your band is too big. Your band takes the majority of your boobs' weight so if it's not supportive enough your straps (and consequently your shoulders) end up taking the strain.

5) Your band should be horizontal with the floor all the way around your body and there should be no gaps between your body and the band (if there are your band or your cups are too big).

If you listen closely you'll hear your boobs screaming for help!
Your Bra Doesn't Fit - 
Now What?
So you've gone through the 5 fit checks and worked out that your 34C bra is not your friend. You know you need to come down in the band and up in the cup. The question remains - how many band sizes do I come down? I've fitted women who arrived in a 38D and left in a 32GG - it would take a great deal of trial and error to arrive at this final destination by yourself without a tape measure.

I am by no means suggesting that a tape measure system is 100% accurate, but used correctly it can give you a great starting point to know which sizes to begin with. Once you try on your suggested size it's then easier to use the 5 Fit Checks to work out if your size needs tweaking - "This band fits but I need a bigger cup" or "this cup fits but the band is too loose so I'll go down in the band and up in the cup to keep the same cup volume".

Stop Blaming Women and Tape Measures!
I despise the '85% of women are in the wrong bra' stat because it suggests women are to blame for being in the wrong bra and they're not - fitters and manufacturers have a lot to answer for. Lots of women have been badly fitted by 'experts', many cannot find their actual bra size in a store near them and lots of women simply are never told that bra sizes extend beyond the 32-38 A-D range.

Women have been given misleading and confusing information for decades and understanding bra fit needn't be complicated. By measuring around your ribcage and using that as your starting band size your margin for error is lessened. Measuring around the fullest part of your bust to work out your cup size is not perfect but again it's a starting point from which you can effectively use the 5 Fit Checks.

The Butterfly Collection Bra Calculator
I have debated for a long time whether we should have a Bra Calculator. The very term has become synonymous with online torture generators like the Playtex US calculator. However, I know that women are more than capable of understanding their own bra size when given the right tools and knowledge to figure it out. So after a great deal of thought, here is the Butterfly Collection Bra Calculator!

We'd love your feedback!

How is our Calculator Different?
The objective behind our calculator is to give you a good starting size from which you can work out which fit is right for you. We've added some features you don't see on other calculators:

  1. We've included results based on personal preference. Some women prefer a really tight band and some prefer a slightly looser one. We've included these size results for you too.
  2. We use the UK sizing system on our site because most of our brands are British. However, many women are used to the North American sizes so we've also included a column that shows your size translated into North American sizing for reference.

Your Help Please
I'm prepared for some backlash on this project because whenever you put something in black and white someone is going to question you laying down the law. I know this calculator won't work for everyone. It will be very inaccurate for A-C cup women because we don't sell A-C cup bras. It won't work for women who need the plus four method to offset an athletic build, protruding sternums and close-set breasts.

However, I do want to make this a useful and empowering tool for women 28-38 D-K and to do that I need your feedback. If you take a spin in our calculator please leave a comment on this blog about how the results worked out for you and what you would like to see improved, it would be a great help!

Calculators should never be used in isolation, understanding which bra styles work for you as well as which brands fit you best all contribute to getting your valuable assets into a fabulous bra that's right for you! xx

Monday, March 12, 2012

Attack of the Killer DDDDDDDs!!

When Mr Butterfly and I set off for Las Vegas last month we were super excited to attend a big lingerie show and get up close and personal with lots of brands. We definitely met lots of interesting and passionate people at the Curve Show but this was interwoven with some glaring problems that dog the lingerie industry and keep women from their best-fitting bras.

Here are the FOUR big bra problems I encountered:
1. The use of multiple Ds is keeping North American women away from embracing larger cup letters
2. Not enough brands understand the difference between Full Bust and Plus Size bras
3. Sizing for Full Bust women is still wildly inaccurate
4. Online boutiques are massively overlooked by brands and women alike

It was a privilege to attend the Freya Fitting Seminar, however, it raised more questions than it answered.

1. Who Wants to be a 12D? Not me!
As most of you know I'm an adopted North American having lived here for 7 years but I'm originally from England. I had never heard an F cup referred to as a DDD before I moved to Canada and it baffled me why multiple Ds were used for bra sizes. Figuring out how the multiple D system translated into UK sizes took me months.When I attended the Freya Fitting Seminar in Las Vegas, the fitter referred to the range of sizes produced by Freya as going from D to 12D (or K in UK sizing). Using Ds to describe sizes all the way up to a K is ludicrous and harmful in my opinion:
  1. No one else in the world uses this multiple D system so it makes it harder for women to figure out which bras from other countries will fit them (something they need to know considering how few North American brands design for G+ boobs).
  2. Keeping women trapped in D cups perpetuates the stigma that anything over a D cup is huge (check out my blog 'Breaking the D Cup Barrier' to understand why this is a problem)
The majority of women in North America do not know that bras with cups over a DD exist which is part of the reason so many full busted women are in the wrong bra. If we could get some universal and consistent language around small back, full cup boobs then perhaps D-K cup bras will seem less scary. Ditch the Multiple Ds!!

2.  Full Bust Bras Aren't Necessarily Big Bras
What's the difference between Full Bust and Plus Size bras? Plus Size refers to your body size and not your boobs. You can be plus sized and have a small bust. Check out the chart below to see an approximate breakdown of Regular, Full Bust and Plus Sizes:
A lot of brands we spoke to were eager to tell us about the addition of G and H cups to their range, however, very few of them had these cups in bands under a 34. Adding larger cups is a good step but in the full bust market only adding 2 band sizes is only half a job. Brands still need to figure out where the Full Bust and Plus Size markets differ. Check out Holly Jackson's review of Full Bust vs Plus Size.

3. How I wish there was a single sizing method!
I understand that no two garments can ever measure exactly the same. The machinery you produce the garment on, the style of the garment and the average weight/height of the models in your country all affect the eventual size. However, in the bra world the advice on size (and measuring for size) differs wildly.

During the Freya Fitting Seminar I raised the question that UK DD bras are always shown as being equivalent to a US DD whereas in fact they almost ALWAYS fit like a US D cup. A UK E cup fits like a US DD cup and a DDD fits like an F cup. The fitter agreed that she also found this and yet every UK size chart lists a DD the same as a US DD. 

We were handed a Freya Sizing Chart and I was really surprised to find that their chart suggested adding inches (in one instance the classic +Four Method). For a dedicated Full Bust brand like Freya I was so surprised to see them recommending adding inches to your band. 

I was undoubtedly the annoying kid asking too many questions. "Why do you add inches...?"
Considering Freya makes 28 and 30 bands I was surprised not to see them on the list so I asked "Who do you fit into 28 and 30 bands?" The answer totally floored me - "Juniors". What?! Has Freya been online and read how many fully grown women review their 28 back bras? The seminar was supposed to be conducted by Frederika Zappe, Freya's senior fitter, but she was ill so we had a last minute stand-in fitter who was perhaps caught a little off-guard, but surely she should know that women wear 28 back Freya bras.

If a flagship Full Bust company like Freya is adding inches and marginalizing 28 and 30 backs then the industry is in more denial than I thought.

4. We Were the Ugly 'Online' Sisters!
When we set up Butterfly Collection I very quickly realized that North America wasn't used to the idea of selling bras online. Brands told me time and time again "We don't sell to online" "We have no need for online boutiques." It was very frustrating but I knew that what I was trying to achieve (bringing hard to find Full Bust bras to Canadian and American women) was even more important and necessary. How are you supposed to shop for your HH boobs if you live in a remote village in the North West Territories!!  

My passion revolves around giving women the tools to understand their breasts and bra size

We continue to come up against 'Online Fear' and indeed some brands at Curve simply wouldn't talk to us about their lingerie because we're online. One brick and mortar store owner actually said to me "So you don't have to think about fit then being online." This summed up for me the lack of knowledge about online boutiques. We have to empower our customers even more to understand their size and styles.  Fit should be everything to every boutique whether online or off.

When I spoke to brands and other store owners about the online discussions around Full Bust bras, removing +Four as the standard measuring technique and competitions like Star in a Bra most looked at me like I was spouting gibberish. Being so far away from the conversations (and women) who rely on the Internet for their bra knowledge, support and product is a mistake that some may realize too late.

The heaven that is Claudette's Neon Green Mesh bra will be coming to Butterfly this spring!
Our trip to Vegas was thoroughly worthwhile (we got to see Claudette's neon green mesh bra for goodness' sake!) While the lack of knowledge about Full Bust bras is frustrating it also makes me even more determined to grow Butterfly Collection and set the tone for how Full Bust women everywhere should be treated. xx

Monday, March 5, 2012

Is Your Makeup Harming Your Boobs?

In my recent blog about the documentary Pink Ribbons Inc I touched on how shocked I was by the suspected links between beauty products and breast cancer. Amazing strides have been made to identify that not all breast cancers are the same but we still don't know what causes most cancers. Very few are genetic so we need a great deal of research into the causes of cancer.

Now I'm not going to be able to cover the huge amount of information available on the suspected links between beauty products and cancer, but I am going to give you some resources to explore further and leave you with some questions you might want to ponder. Plus there's a boob-friendly giveaway for you to enter too!

How can my makeup be harming my breasts?
Pink Ribbons Inc (and many other activists) want effective research into possible links between the increasing number of chemicals in our makeup and beauty products and the rising number of breast cancer cases. Considering the average woman uses 12 beauty products a day and many are known to contain carcinogenics (cancer causing chemicals) it's not a massive logical leap. Very few beauty products are regulated for health safety and groups like Breast Cancer Action want Government co-operation and industry transparency so that effective research can be done. The video below demonstrates how our beauty products could be linked to cancer and also defines irony:

Who Knew There was Lead in my Lipstick?!
Chemicals such as lead, arsenic and a multitude of carcinogenics are found in products that we put on our bodies and faces every day. Organizations like Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are pushing for there to be more transparency about the chemicals that are in these products so that women can make informed choices.

Products in the US are still allowed to include chemicals that have been banned in Canada, the UK and large parts of Europe. There are arguments on both sides of the coin about how safe/dangerous these chemicals are but I really don't think women have any clue that these chemicals are in our beauty products in the first place - I didn't! I didn't realize that I could be absorbing (and ingesting in the case of lipstick) deadly chemicals in however small a dose. Why does my lipstick have lead in it when it was banned in paint and pencils decades ago!?!?

Common Sense
I scraped by in Chemistry and Biology so I'm no scientist, however, I've read enough Agatha Christie to know that Arsenic rarely ends well. So when I learned that Clinique Stay True makeup (Stay Ivory) contains arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel, lead, and thallium I was more than a little dumbfounded (results from Environmental Defense Canada). Just to put this in context, this is a list of what these chemicals and heavy metals can do to you in their purest form:

Arsenic: diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, hair loss, stomach pain, convulsions. At worst coma then death
Beryllim: fatigue, weakness, night sweats, difficulty in breathing and a persistent dry cough
Cadmium: tracheo-bronchitis, pneumonitis, pulmonary edema, bone density loss and fracture
Nickel: bronchitis, reduced lung function, cancer of the lung and nasal sinus
Lead: headache, abdominal pain, memory loss, kidney failure, male reproductive problems, and weakness, pain, or tingling in the extremities
Thallium: numbness of fingers and toes,vomiting, diarrhea, temporary hair loss, and effects on the nervous system, lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys. It has caused death.

Why Take the Risk?
OK so my Clinique foundation is not causing my hair to fall out and my toes aren't numb, however, I'm pretty sure that my body would be happier not processing even tiny amounts of these things. What has shocked and infuriated me the most is that there seems to be an industry-wide concealment of the facts. In the US and Canada cosmetics and beauty companies do not need to list ingredients in a product that are the result of a side-effect (i.e. the by-product of mixing one thing with another). Surely we have the right to know the contents of everything we put on or in our bodies.

The Changes I made to my Bathroom Cabinet
After watching the documentary and doing my own digging I decided that I was going to reduce my chemical intake as much as possible so went on the hunt for some friendly products. My first stop was Rocky Mountain Soap company, a Canadian business whose Lip Butter I had already fallen in love with. I knew they did good stuff but I didn't realize that all of their products are 100% chemical free, made in Canada and sustainably produced - now that's good stuff!!

I've been using the little haul above for a couple of weeks now and I'm in total heaven. The pomegranate moisturizer has eliminated my hives (I have crazy sensitive skin) and the soaps create amazing lather. The shampoo and shave bars are Mr Butterfly's and he's even commented on how much better his hair and skin feel.
Win Yourself some Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Goodness!
The ingredients philosophy at Rocky Mountain Soap Co. is "When an ingredient has been identified as potentially harmful it is safest to avoid it. Period." Who knew common-sense could smell so good. I asked the lovely ladies at RMSC if they would like to share some of their Soapy Goodness with my readers and they didn't hesitate! To win their gorgeous Six Soap Collection you simply need to write on their Facebook Page why chemical-free products are important to you and your life. Be sure to "Like" Rocky Mountain's Facebook Page and Butterfly Collection's Page to qualify. We'll announce a winner on March 14th over on our Facebook Page.

I really hope this blog got you thinking about what goes on your body and more importantly, what we deserve to be told about ingredients in our beauty products. Below are some resources to help you find out more as well as some companies providing chemical-free beauty products. xx

Stacy Malkan's Fascinating Book About Chemicals in our Beauty Products
Resources to Learn More About Chemicals in Beauty Product
EWG Database - Thousands of beauty products analyzed for harmful ingredients

Environmental Defense Canada Report on Heavy Metals in Makeup 

Campaign for Safer Cosmetics - with resources for writing to makeup companies like Estee Lauder and Proctor and Gamble about using safer ingredients

The Shocking Story of Toxins in Cosmetics - The original video

Rebuttal to the video above criticizing the information

Breast Cancer Action petition to US government for FDA control of cosmetics and beauty products

Gorgeous Companies Making Chemical-free Beauty Products
Rocky Mountain Soap Company
Liz Earle Makeup and Beauty Products

Suki Skincare and Makeup

Radiance Cosmetics

Thursday, March 1, 2012

World Book Day - Must-have Boob Books

In many countries today is World Book Day which celebrates reading and brings awareness to issues around publishing. It got me thinking about all the fantastic books I rely on for bra and breast knowledge. Of course there is lots of information on the internet but there's something extra personal and beautiful about holding a book chock full of gorgeous images. Here are some of my favourites:

Hoorah for the Bra! by Cheree Berry
This is one of my absolute favourites not least because it's a pop up book! The information is good but the visual representations of bras through the decades are brilliant! The hook and eye closure is a nice touch too.

Not enough adult books have pop-up elements!
The Bra Book by Jene Luciani
This is my bible. There is so much useful and insightful information in this book. Everything from how bras are made to how to put one on correctly. It's beautifully laid out and easy to read. I'm a big fan of anything that demystifies the thick layer of 'confusion' around bras.

You can tell from the well worn bookmarks how much I read this book
1000 Dessous by Giles Neret
I use this book for inspiration and it's especially useful for putting into context the way our figures have been shaped by fashion, social convention and economics. It is page after page of images of women in lingerie from the conventional to the erotic, it really shows the diversity of lingerie.

Bra: A Thousand Years of Style, Support and Seduction by Stephanie Pedersen
This is an unassuming little book. It looks like it will be a cursory look at bras but it's actually an indepth look at the journey of the bra from two handkerchiefs and ribbon to deep plunge foam filled boosters!

Any book on the history of the bra will have Madge's cones in there somewhere!
Books I'd like to Own
There are a few books I don't have right now but that I'm keen to read. Elisabeth Dale from The Breast Life has authored a book that includes a collection of her mammoirs (personal breast stories like the one she wrote for Butterfly Collection). Elisabeth is passionate about breast health and happiness and someone I look to about issues around breast cancer education and breast-feeding rights and tips.

After recently seeing the film Pink Ribbons Inc I am very keen to read the book from which the documentary was developed. I've read sections from it but I really need to get hold of Pink Ribbons Inc: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy by Samantha King

Samantha King's passion and determination make a complex issue very accessible

Do you have some Must-have Boob Books that I should know about (p.s. I don't need to know any more about Madonna's conical bra thanks!) xx