Thanks to Jezebel for bringing us this enlightening post on women's attitudes about their bra sizes in The Tender Trap: Not Everyone Wants a Bigger Bra Size.
In Jezebel's post, it says, "Apparently bra sizes are being inflated. And the NY Times did not just say 'The Truth May (Pleasantly) Surprise You' Vanity sizing, as anyone who's ever attempted to shop at Banana Republic knows, is nothing new. And, says the Times, 'these days, many women - to their shock or glee - are finding that DD is becoming the new C.' What this means is unclear. Either sizing is different, or we actually have bigger breasts on average - due to weight gain or surgical enhancement - or the population is aging, or maybe we're all just fitting our bras properly, thanks to Oprah and Stacey.
The piece acknowledges that a lot of women aren't thrilled to find out they're bigger busted than they imagined, which soothed my ruffled feathers somewhat after the irritating assumptions of that headline. For a lot of us, bra size is a very fraught issue. In my case, I'm the daughter of someone absolutely flat-chested...which became the feminine ideal in my house. When my boobs grew in - generous for my frame - I felt blowsy and trashy, consigned by my mother to a series of granny bras and 'size Large' shirts. I took after my grandmother, who confided to me, not particularly helpfully, that her heavy chest was one of the great sadnesses of her life - a life, oddly, not short on genuine tragedies. Breasts never equaled 'sexiness' to me - quite the contrary. They spelled unwelcome looks, buckling blouse plackets, hunched shoulders, and an unchosen sexuality that I felt misrepresented the serious young woman I wanted to become. When friends talked about wishing for bigger cup sizes, I was genuinely baffled: each advance through the alphabet felt to me like some kind of shame. The weird part was, I thought other people's curvaceous figures were amazing; it was just on me that the breasts became a sort of horrid alien imposition.
I got over this, to a degree, as one does: good bras, growing up, moving out and healthy relationships all helped me realize that my family was stark raving mad and that I had other things to worry about. But I still wonder when I see assumptions like that behind the Times headline. A friend of mine called me just the other day, downcast, having just been told that she was several bra sizes larger than she'd believed; the revelation, while it objectively contained no judgment, still affected how she thought of herself in relation to the world. In our lifetimes, our breasts and bra sizes change as much as anything in our bodies, and as in all things a degree of mental flexibility is necessary, but it's important for bra merchants and designers to understand that it's a sensitive subject and a bigger deal than it might seem. A little standardization might be nice. Or, as one plastic surgeon in the article says, 'I wish they would get their act together and get their sizes straight.'"
For the complete New York Times article that inspired Jezebel's post, click on Your Bra Size: The Truth May (Pleasantly) Surprise You.