Monday, October 29, 2012

5 Reasons Your Bra Straps Slip

One of the most common problems we see when doing Online Bra Size Consultations for our clients is slipping straps. To help you solve this irritating bra issue here are the top four causes of slipping bra straps.

When you're wearing the correct band size your straps will sit closer together on your band and on your shoulders

1. Your Band is Too Big
If your bra band is more than a couple of inches bigger than your ribcage measurement then the chances are your band is loose enough that it can ride up your back and cause your straps to slip off your shoulders. The proportions of a bra with a bigger band can add to the problem too. For example, even though the cup volume on a 38E is the same as the cup volume on a 32G the straps are slightly closer together on the 32 band than on the 38 band. It's worth checking that your band size is close to your ribcage measurement as this could be the source of your slipping straps.

Solution: Smaller bra band size. Remember you will have to increase your cup size when you reduce your band size so that you don't lose cup volume.

You can see that the strap isn't flush against the body because the breast is lifting the strap.

2. Your Cups are Too Small
Rather than slipping off your shoulders your straps may be 'popping' off your shoulders. If your cups are too small then you have rogue boob spilling out at the top of your cups and this can interfere with how your straps lie against your body. Your straps should lie flat against your body and over your shoulder but if there's stray boob wedging itself under the strap then it can cause your straps to 'pop' off your shoulders. If you have breast tissue spilling at the top, sides (under the armpit) or underneath your cups then this could be the cause of your slipping straps.

Solution: Larger cup. You may be able to keep your same band size and simply increase your cup size. However, you may discover that you need a slightly smaller band once all of your boob is in your cups as some of your breast tissue may have been living in your band rather than the cup. If in doubt we can help you find your best size with a free online size consultation.

3. Your Cups are Too Big
If you have lost some breast volume or your bra cups have stretched out over time then your cups can become too big for you. When you fill your bra cups your breast anchors the cup into place. When part of the cup is empty the cup can move around causing your straps to slip off your shoulders.

Solution: Smaller cup. You will most likely be able to keep your same band size (if you are comfortable in that size and your band doesn't ride up) but reduce your cup size.

If you have a short torso or high set breasts then bras with shorter wires will keep your straps in the right place.

4. Your Bra is Designed for Taller Women
If you are under 5ft 5" (or you have high set breasts) you may find that no matter what size you try your bra straps still slip off your shoulders. This is because the wires are too long for your torso or the height of your breasts so the straps don't sit in the right place. 

Solution: Look for bras with shorter wires that are proportional to your torso length (or breast height).
The racer clip on Panache Sports bra is ideal for sloping shoulders

5. Sloping and Narrow Shoulders
Straps can slip off narrow and sloping shoulders even when you're in the right size so style is really important.

Solution: Look for styles where the straps are set closer together or have a V back where the straps form a V at the back to prevent slipping.  Bras with racer clip backs (like the Panache sports bra above) are also a great option for narrow or sloping shoulders.

See Also: Bras for Narrow and Sloping Shoulders

As well as checking these five tips it's worth making sure you have tightened your bra straps so that your straps are flat against your body but not digging into your shoulders. Bra straps will lengthen as you wear your bra so they need to be adjusted regularly to fit your height. If your band rides up when you shorten your straps then your bra may be old or you need a smaller band size.

Besides finding your best bra size it's equally important to find your best bra styles that compliment your body and breast shape. Finding your best style can eliminate the annoying slipping straps forever! xx

Monday, October 22, 2012

Breast Bullying

October is anti-bullying month and this is a subject close to my heart (my post back in February on Pink Shirt Day struck a chord with many of you). Many of my customers have experienced bullying over their breast size at some point during their life. You may think that this is mostly kids teasing each other during puberty (which of course is rife) however, breast bullying happens in many more places, most dangerously, and sadly, within the family.

Bullying is an invidious weapon that hurts the victim from within. The effects can be experienced for years and affect how you feel about yourself long into adulthood. I think we have an opportunity to change decades of ignorance and bullying so that future generations of girls can grow up without the weight of breast-shame to deal with.

Bullying within the Family
You may be surprised to know that this is the most common form of bullying my clients tell me about. Many are singled out for being the most busty sister or daughter and made to feel that they are somehow 'wrong' in their physique. Perhaps much of this taunting stems from jealousy or insecurity with their own shape (it's much easier to bring other people down than to raise them and yourself up).

Perpetual breast taunting and shaming establishes doubt about the validity of your body and makes young women question if they have done something wrong. This can lead to seeking validation about your body and worth for a long time. A supportive and enlightened family can save a busty teen from years of searching for self-esteem and body acceptance.

Ignoring developing breasts and covering daughters in layers of baggy clothing to hide their figures also contributes to a sense of breast-shame. This passive bullying is to try and force girls into a certain 'mold' that women ought to be. Breasts are still incorrectly linked to morality so many parents think that by making their daughters look as though they don't have breasts it will somehow 'save' them from moral peril. This simply doesn't work. You can teach body-confidence and morality at the same time.

Bullying from the Media
It's well disguised but there is no doubt that women are bullied into feeling they 'should' be something in order to be acceptable. We are bombarded with images and words that narrow the size, shape, colour, height and weight we should be. From the tiny selection of magazine covers below you can see the imbued guilt and shame woven into mass media.
"How Smart Women Lose Weight" because we all know that most of us are just too stupid to be thin. "Fight Flab & Win" because only losers are fat. "My Body After Baby" because let's face it, creating the miracle of life is nothing compared to looking great in a bikini.

Having a great internal compass that says "this is just one way that women can look, there are millions of other ways" allows us to see these women as beautiful but not the only valuable women in our world.

New strategies are coming into effect to stop the runaway train of media weight-dogma. The UK seems to be leading the way with groups like the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image who were part of the first Body Confidence Awards recognizing advertisers, authors, websites, individuals and organizations promoting confidence in children and adults. I don't think that governments ought to be left to determine confidence, but we certainly need some consequences for companies who blatantly prey on our insecurities to keep us in a fear-based-buying-cycle.

Internet Bullying
A couple of weeks ago our community here in Greater Vancouver was rocked by the suicide of a young girl after years of relentless bullying via the Internet, phone and in person. A tragic litany of events included a barrage of abuse about the girl's breasts. The complexities of digital communication, young women, breasts and society is a topic for a whole other blog, but this journalist's piece is thought-provoking. We need to start arming our young girls and adults with the education and language to understand their own bodies and to be supportive and accepting of other women's bodies before they start looking for validation and acceptance in a faceless place.

As you've probably figured out by now I think words are powerful and even though they can inflict such dreadful wounds they are also a busty girl's best defense and liberation to live happily and confidently in her beautiful body. By giving the women and girls in your life words of encouragement as well as arming them with the vocabulary to love their own bodies, we can change how future generations of women treat themselves and other women. xx

Self Confidence Sites

Body Confidence Sites

Anti-Bullying Sites

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

7 Facts about Changing Breast Cancer

Visit the Website
As most of you will know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There is a huge amount of information, activity and merchandise around this campaign but the two most important facts at the heart of this month are:

1) Learn how to examine your own breasts for lumps and bumps - most are completely harmless but for many women who can catch their breast cancer early it saves their life.

2) Breast cancer needs a cure (in fact several as there are many different types) and this means we need to make finding the cause and cures a priority.

Visit the Website
BCAM - The Good and The Bad 
I like that Breast Cancer Awareness month is a superb opportunity to leverage the media to remind women how important it is to check their breasts. What I don't like is that we've become immune to the impact of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and forget that this disease happens every day to women across the world.

The insane abundance of PINK during this month has literally got in the way of two crucial facts:

1) Research is needed to find the cause and cure for breast cancer

2) Governments of the world need to commit to transparency in uncovering the causes and funding cures for breast cancers. 

The public donating money is a vital part of fund-raising but in reality medical research requires the public spending power of governments and for this to happen the political leaders of the world have to make finding cancer causes and cures a priority. It's not hard to work out that those products and industries that are linked to cancer are also the ones pumping money into the economy and political donations so it's going to take a huge amount of public pressure to move governments into taking a proactive stance on cancer research.

3 Practical Things You Can Do in the Battle Against Cancer
There are three things you can do this Breast Cancer Awareness Month (or any month in fact) that will make a difference to beating this dreadful disease:

1) Check Your Breasts

2) Donate any money DIRECTLY to cancer research (either to Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Canadian Breast Cancer Network, American Cancer Society or to the Susan Love Foundation ) all the 'Walks for the Cure' or '2% of this lipstick goes to cancer research' won't make as much financial impact as just mailing a cheque to a Cancer Research Organization directly.

3) Use your power as a citizen to let your government know that you want breast cancer research to be prioritized in your country. In the US you can do this using Breast Cancer Action's Online Petition or by visiting American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network website. In Canada visit the Prevent Cancer Now petition page.

Like most people breast cancer has affected my family and friends and the reality is that it looks nothing like a Pink Ribbon so we need to do more than just light up the White House with pink lights, we need the people inside it to hear us and put an end to this devastating disease. I hope you find this post helpful xx

Useful and Interesting Links
Elisabeth Dale - A New Approach to The Cure
Worldwide Breast Cancer Site with Tools and Information
Think Before You Pink
Breast Cancer Action
American Breast Cancer Foundation
Breast Cancer Action Network

Final Response to the Vanity Sizing Debate

Recently I wrote a piece that was a response to a television segment about bra fitting that suggested modern bra sizes are built around Vanity Sizing. Many other boutiques and bloggers shared their opinions and the boutique at the center of the discussion has written a blog post to clarify what she says was a mass misunderstanding. The boutique owner tweeted to ask for my response to her piece so I have written my thoughts on particular excerpts from her post. This issue mattered to me because our collective approach to language around breasts (large breasted women in particular) is central to my work. xx

Excerpts in Black My Responses in Red

I suggested that bra sizes have changed in the past 10 years due to vanity sizing. Do you think this is the sole reason? Your statement was very finite and emphatic which left little room for the possibility that fitters and manufacturers got it wrong on any scale.

I was expecting some differing views on the topic, but I wasn’t expecting so much misunderstanding. My personal response to your interview was that I thought an isolated and loaded statement can be dangerous. Statements without context can be more harmful than beneficial. If so many of us had this ‘misunderstanding’ then evidently the point you were trying to make wasn’t clear or wasn’t accurate.

I used to teach a “plus 5” method (adding about 5 inches to the underbust measurement) as a general starting point. When my NYC shop opened about eight years ago, I started teaching a “plus 3-5” method. I did this to accommodate some of the changes that bra companies were making to their bra bands. Now, eight years later, I’ve migrated to a “plus 0 to 3” for certain women. For many brands the plus 5 method has not been necessary for over 20 years so this method is not newly-outdated.

It’s important to know that only a trained fitter is really qualified to fit someone for a bra. And it’s also important to remember that hundreds of trained fitters put women in the wrong bra so educating women to spot a good from a bad fit is vital. There are no standards in bra fitting so women are at the mercy of an unregulated system.

I think one of the reasons some women were upset with my comments in the article or TV spot was because of the word “scam” in the title. I have to be honest: “scam” was never my word. I completely agree and acknowledged this in my blog response “I know that…. a media snippet can be taken hugely out of context”

The way I see it, at least it gets women’s attention so that I can “braducate” them and help them finally figure out why their bras are no longer fitting! This is where we differ. I think the ‘Vanity Sizing’ statement was frightening (and misleading) which caused more confusion than education.

Don’t worry about what size your bra says – worry about the fit! This is just the problem, women DO worry about what their bra says and the biggest leap you have to make in achieving great bra fit (especially for busty women) is to get there mentally before you get there physically. The Vanity Sizing suggested their bra size is ego driven rather than physically driven. This pushes women farther away from embracing small band large cup letters. It’s yet more stigma for them to deal with.

When I moved to New York about eight years ago, I fit into a 36D perfectly. But since bra sizes have changed, I now fit into a 32G in the same brand. And no, I won’t start naming brands. I don’t intend to place blame on any bra companies here. I don’t see how naming brands could be blame placing because most brands now fit women inch for inch – if you measure 32 around then you’re probably going to need a 32 band. If you had to wear a 36 band 10 years ago but now wear a 32 then that manufacturer has changed which elastics they use and are labelling their bras correctly so where’s the blame? I would be fascinated to have at least one example of a company that used to make a 36D that would fit a modern day 32G and offers BOTH those sizes.

Another reason that my comments have caused a stir is because I’ve used the phrase “vanity sizing”. Don’t tell me women aren’t vain about their band size. I have women jump for joy when they find out that a 30 or 32 bra fits them better than a 36. Who doesn’t want to have a slimmer, smaller back?! We’re only human, after all. Most of the brands I carry fit inch for inch – if you are a 32 rib measurement then you most likely wear a 32 band – how is this Vanity?
It’s been a real mission of mine to help women understand that a G cup or up is totally common, now! It’s taken years of “braducation”, instruction, and care to help women get over the stigma of D+ bras and just wear what fits and supports them best. How is using the term ‘Vanity Sizing’ not adding another layer of stigma to women with large breasts and small backs? There’s no two ways about it “Vanity” is a loaded word.

These letters and numbers mean something to women and their ego, so they are reluctant to pick out a new size themselves. It takes going to a bra shop like mine and being professionally fit to finally get it. A professional fitting in only part of the story. It’s going to take changing our language around breasts, women and cup sizes. As lingerie fitters we do not hold the keys to fit we are accountable to our customers who deserve to know their own fit

Some women claim that no one wants to be a G cup or more, and that changing bands sized could not be caused by vanity. Well, some women don’t want to be an A cup. And some women don’t want to be a 40 back. I don’t think bra companies geared sizes toward everyone, just toward the small minority that fit into the old A-D sizes. Unfortunate, but true. So why not acknowledge that first and foremost if you know that for a huge proportion of women the ‘Vanity Sizing’ did exactly the opposite (made them feel worse).

I think bra sizes have changed. And I think vanity sizing played a part in why it happened. I said it and I’m not taking it back! I think this is what you meant to say from the very beginning “Vanity Sizing has played a part in changing band sizes over the past decade” which would have been a balanced and thought-provoking statement. Unfortunately I think you’ve hitched your wagon so tightly to the ‘Vanity Sizing’ statement that it’s alienated some people.

I’m dismayed by the lack of understanding and outcry from other women in the field. Many of the “other experts” who are providing their opinion on the matter have not been working full time as a bra fitter for 25 years. Most of them haven’t even been in business for 10, which is when things really started changing.

A) So much outcry and ‘misunderstanding’ as you say should tell you that the piece wasn’t clear.

B) I’ve never claimed to be an ‘Expert’ because there's always something to learn and putting all the people who challenged your thoughts in quotation marks suggests you’re rather derisive of their opinions.

C) Longevity doesn’t equal infallibility. Some of us women who have been wholeheartedly and passionately in business for less than 10 years have new perspectives to bring to the table.

Regardless, my stance on proper bra fitting and my passion for helping women has always been very clear, and they should have known that. Despite what these other experts think, it’s more important to me that women realize that bra sizes have changed, rather than why. This whole paragraph sounds frustrated which is a shame because as bra retailers we should be working together to learn from each other. In my response about your GMA piece I didn’t mention you, didn’t link to the piece and even stated “I know that the boutique at the center of this storm is deeply committed to good bra fit”. The objective around my response was to reassure the D-K cup women that I work with that their size was not based on Vanity and they must not take one statement out of context because “A little bit of bra information is a dangerous thing”.

Vanity sizing or not, it doesn’t matter to me. It’s more important to me that women wear the bra that fits and supports them best, regardless of the size. The words “Vanity Sizing” may not matter to you, but they upset and confused other women – I think that’s the point you missed.

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.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Big Bust Self Exam Story

"Today I am handing you over to my friend Gemma who wanted to share her story with you because in order to have good breast health we have to overcome fear and that's not always easy. Here's her honest and familiar story xx"

Finding a Lump
One Monday in April I was in the shower and decided to do a breast exam. I am ashamed to say that I am a bit slap dash when it comes to self-exams, I kind of do them (a squeeze here and there) but it had been a few months since I had done a proper one. As I was doing my exam, I felt not one but two lumps in my right breast. After the initial panic, I tried to calm down and re-did the exam and determined that there were definitely two lumps in my breast.

Rights Reserved
I work in healthcare so the rational side of me knew that 8 out of 10 breast lumps are benign, but the irrational (and terrified) side of me instantly turned to the worst possible scenario.

Plucking Up The Courage to See a Doctor
I decided to wait a couple of weeks before seeing my doctor to see if the lumps went away later in my menstrual cycle and in that time, I managed to wind myself up into a total mess. I read pretty much every blog and website about breast cancer I could find. I also physically bruised my right breast by feeling the lumps every few hours to see if they were still there!
Rights Reserved by Busty Girl Comics
Finally I got my act together. I knew that for the good of myself and my family I had to deal with whatever was causing the lumps and went to see my doctor. My doctor confirmed that there was at least one lump and we needed to take action quickly. As I am only 35 I was recommended an ultrasound rather than a mammogram.

Testing the Lump with Ultrasound and Mammogram
Ultrasounds are less invasive and can pick up findings easier in younger women such as myself, who may have denser breasts. I had an ultrasound the following day and the technician confirmed that there was a suspicious lump in my right breast – approx 1cm in diameter. The radiologist recommended that the lump needed to be examined further and I was sent for a mammogram.

Even the term mammogram terrified me. However, with my husband supporting me every step of the way, two days later I went and had the mammogram. All I could think of in the waiting room as I was waiting for the doctor to call me was, ‘I’m 35, I have a 2 year old, I run half marathons, I go to Pilates, I am in the best shape of my life – this doesn’t make sense’. But then life doesn’t make sense sometimes does it? In that waiting room I can honestly say I wanted to run away as fast as my legs would take me. I didn’t want the mammogram, I didn’t want the probable biopsy, I just wanted to go home. However, at home I had a husband and 2 year old who needed me to be around and to be healthy so I went through with both tests.

I cannot say enough good things about the Women’s Health Center where I had my mammogram and biopsy. It is a centre that specializes in women’s conditions and the whole environment is very feminine and as non-clinical as possible. My radiologist and technicians were amazing, reminding me that 8/10 breast lumps are benign, and that my lump appeared to be that way –but they wanted to be 100% sure not 99% sure, hence all of the tests. Again the rational side of me wanted to believe them, but the waiting between each test was excruciating.

The Results
A couple of days later I got confirmation that my lump was in fact benign! Ecstatic and grateful does not begin to describe how I felt – and still do. However, I got a warning and a kick up the bum I needed to be more vigilant about self-exams and well woman visits in general. No longer will I delay such important exams.

Between finding my lump(s) and getting my biopsy results, I read too many stories from women, of all ages, who are less lucky than me. Their ‘99% probably nothing lump’ was breast cancer – in some cases at an advanced stage. No-one is immune to breast cancer and less than 15% of women with breast cancer have a family history of the disease.

Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in North America. Everyone knows someone who has battled this disease. Both self-breast exams and well woman visits are vital because they really do save lives.
There are plenty of resources that provide great advice on how to carry out breast self-exams:
Visit the website

If in doubt see your doctor and get a medical opinion; I rush my son to the doctor if there is anything wrong with him, and after this experience I have learned that I need to do the same for myself. Make it a priority for yourself to go for regular well woman visits. For those of you in the US, due to the Affordable Care Act, all insurance companies now provide access to well woman visits for free, which gives you even more reason to get checked.

A New Relationship with My Boobs
I have always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with my boobs. The attention my ‘great boobs’ have received over the years has been both flattering and frustrating. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve shouted ‘there is more to me than just a pair of boobs’ I would be a rich lady! However, in general I am very grateful for what I inherited from my mum.

A few years ago I gave birth to my gorgeous son who I happily nursed for 10 months. Post-nursing my big full boobs simply deflated and like many new mums I have been overly harsh on my new body shape – particularly my boobs. After this scare, I am so much more grateful for my boobs! Yes they may not be as full as they used to be, but they are still amazing and most importantly they are healthy! With the help of Claire at Butterfly Collection I celebrated my healthy boobs by getting measured for the first time since I had my son and treated myself to lots of new beautiful lingerie. Now I celebrate my boobs and promise to look after them in the way they deserve.

Disclaimer: Please note these are my personal opinions not those of my employer.

Monday, October 8, 2012

What Makes Boobs Real or Fake?

When you're a busty woman you become the target of mindless (and completely unoriginal) comments about your bust. Some strangers, and sometimes friends and family, feel within their rights to whistle, ogle, insult or ridicule your boobs. Developing a thick skin, and ultimately learning to be immensely glad you're not one of these idiotic and sad individuals, gives you the tools to deal with boob-ignorance. One of the most common unwarranted comments thrown at busty women is "fake!" and it's always seemed like such a strange insult to make.

We all know that people are referring to breast implants as fake boobs but the word 'fake' suggests that there's something less relevant, less true about the woman who has implants and this is what really aggravates me because all the women I know with breast implants are incredible and brave women. I personally know several women who have had breast implants and these are the reasons they chose to have breast augmentation:

1) Reconstructed breast/s after single and double mastectomy
2) Evening out size after significant infection and tissue loss in one breast
3) Complete deflation from an F cup to AA after 3 pregnancies
4) One breast significantly larger than the other
5) Did not feel that her A cup breasts were proportionate with her frame, increased to a C cup

These women range in age from 25 to 63 and have all felt happier and more whole after their surgery. I know the journeys these women faced before their surgery and I can tell you that there is nothing fake about the struggles they endured or the bravery of their decision to undergo surgery or the authenticity of their confidence and peace after having their surgery.

It's a complete misnomer that most women who have breast augmentation do so for extroverted, 'porn-star' reasons. The reason breast implants have got this reputation is that we see the extreme cases of breast-augmentation on reality shows, in the news and on tabloid covers. I don't suppose a reality show about '32 year old, insurance broker, Mom of two goes about her busy day with 32C implants' would have the level of gratuity viewers are used to!

Most women who elect to have breast implants do so for deeply personal and emotional reasons. They are women from all walks of life who do not feel entirely in sync with their body and choose to have a procedure that makes them feel better about themselves. I have a hard time seeing this courageous and individual decision as a busty slur you throw at someone walking down the street. Attaching negativity to breast implants is just as ludicrous as attaching negativity to D+ breasts.

I believe that EVERY woman deserves to be treated with respect regardless of her bust size; Boobs do NOT dictate your personality, kindness, morality etc. When it comes to bra shopping there may be some specific fitting requirements for augmented breasts that don't necessarily apply to unaltered breasts so don't be afraid to tell your fitter about your surgery. It should make no difference to your fitter if you have augmented breasts because you are real, your breasts are really yours and you really do need a bra! xx

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Little Bit Of Bra Info is a Dangerous Thing

There has been a bit of hoopla this week because an established and respected bra fitter has condemned 'modern' bra sizes as being Vanity Sized. This statement has provoked strong reactions on both sides of the argument - those who say 'yes, bras are vanity sized' and 'no, there is no such thing'.

When I read an isolated statement like "modern bra sizes are a scam" it makes my heart sink a little because I know that thousands of women will read that and feel worried or confused because they don't have a wider understanding of bras, fitting and design. I spend my life submerged in the science, beauty, emotion and practicality of bras so when I read anything about bras I have a wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to the topic; most women don't have this luxury.

Because Butterfly Collection is an online boutique I spend a vast amount of time online and know that while the Internet is a blessing in furthering bra education it can also be a curse because we're bombarded with fragments of information - try conveying the intracacies of bra fitting in 140 characters! Truncating details about bra fitting into a soundbite, tweet or Facebook update takes a great deal of context away from the information and I think this can harm the pursuit of better bra knowledge.

I have concerns about the condemnation of modern bra sizes as being vanity sized because the statement doesn't account for the following facts:

  • Very few 'Full Bust Bras' (bras with 28-38 band sizes and D-K cup sizes) existed before the 1990s.
  • In the last twenty years almost NO pre-1990s brands have grown to include D+ cups in 28-32 bands (Playtex, Warners and Maidenform are a few examples of companies who have not added full bust sizes to their repertoire) so I'm not exactly sure who the boutique is referring to when saying that bras that used to be labeled as a 36D are now labeled as a 32G.
  • In 1958 the invention of Lycra completely revolutionized the design and fit of a bra and yet many companies were still using the 1930s sizing method. The modern garments were completely unrecognizable from the 1930s bras. 
  • The Plus Four Method was used across the board in England and North America, a system devised for old elastic and boned bras. Modern bras do not need inches to be added to the band to compensate for basic things like breathing!
Vanity Sizing is a very loaded phrase because it suggests that your fit is to flatter your ego and not your bust. Working day in and day out with women who have been well outside the 34-42 A-D mainstream I know that the modern bras in 28-30 D-K are LONG OVERDUE! They have been needed for many decades but have only come into reality in recent years. I think it's a dis-service to the physical and emotional misery of busty women to suggest that they are being conned by Vanity Sizing.

Bra sizes will never be an exact science because we ladies are unique and infinitely diverse. Bra sizes are a starting point to learn more about your fit and I think the advances and increase in 28-38 D-K bra sizes are a great step forward in good bra fit.

At the very core of my professional ethos is giving women the tools to understand their breasts. I think as professionals we have a duty to give women all the facts so they are empowered not afraid. I know that the boutique at the center of this storm is deeply committed to good bra fit and that a media snippet can be taken hugely out of context. However, I have to come down on the side that says, "No, I don't believe modern bra sizes are a scam, I think they are the beginning of a desperately needed bra revolution that acknowledges there are hundreds of different bra sizes." xx

Response from the boutique 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Do You Have Breast Migration?

You may not have heard about breast tissue migration before but it is one of the most common conditions caused by wearing the wrong bra size. Breast migration refers to breast tissue that starts to move into the armpit and towards your back after long periods of wearing the wrong bra size and style. This can affect the fit of your clothes and make you look heavier than you are. The good news is, the situation is reversible.

You see breast migration so often we've come to think of it as normal. All these pictures show women who have tissue migration or are wearing a bra that will cause breast tissue migration.


The Cause
The most common cause of breast tissue migration is wearing a cup that is too small for you. Women with large breasts have breast tissue all the way to their armpit and all this tissue needs to be inside your cup. If you wear a bra with a cup that is too small for you the wire of the cup rests on your breast tissue. The pressure of the wire divides your breast tissue pushing some inside your cup and the rest is forced back into the armpit area.

Your bra cup should enclose all the breast tissue right under your armpit (Melody Bra)
What to Look For
If you have excess flesh around your armpit then it's worth reviewing your bra size because it could be that the excess flesh is actually breast tissue that needs to be inside your bra. It's easy to mistake wrinkling at the armpit for tissue migration. Most women get some wrinkling or folds at the armpit where your breast tissue rises to meet you armpit - this happen when you're in the right bra! 

What Can Be Done?
By getting your breast tissue into the right cup size you can gradually reverse the tissue migration by training the tissue back into the cup. There is no proven health problem linked to breast tissue migration, however, it can be painful and unsightly so it's worth ensuring that all of your boobs are inside your bra. If you need help working out your bra size you can use our Free Size Consultation or book a Skype fitting with one of our fitters. Have you experienced breast tissue migration and managed to rectify it over time with the right bra? xx