Every so often, I go to Facebook looking for help with something. When it has to do with managing life with a very top-heavy body, the divide becomes quickly apparent: girls with a buxom figure have a unique set of issues that other people just don’t get. So here is my top ten list of things that only the chesty girls will get.
- “You show so much cleavage!” Ok. Let’s be clear here. I’m an E-cup. Short of wearing a turtleneck, I am going to produce cleavage in everything. Before you get too judgmental about how much cleavage I’m showing, ask yourself if you really feel comfortable wearing a scarf in July to cover what your crew-cut t-shirt didn’t hide. I have no way not to show cleavage in pretty much every fashion. So I dress for comfort, just like you do, and I show cleavage.
- Where do I buy a nice bra? No, really. I’m an E-cup. The mall doesn’t sell bras in my size. I often can squish into a DDD cup as long as it’s not lined, but unless I go to a specialty shop and pay big bucks, the annual sale at Victoria’s Secret is a lot like standing outside a candy store when you’re five and your mom has a tight grip on your hand.
- Where do I buy a sports bra? This one is actually the worst of the issues and occasionally, I make the grievous error of asking for help on Facebook to find a supportive sports bra. Invariably, my C-cup friends helpfully chime in with some variation of, “Oh, have you tried the three-pack at Walmart? They work great for me!” How wonderful for you. I’m assuming your boobs don’t move when you run. Mine do. They feel like a couple of bowling balls being thrown around, except these bowling balls are attached to my body. I appreciate the help, but it’s not helpful. (Although recently I made a very specific ask for help and got some great references!)
- “Now move your foot between your palms.” Yoga class instructions are not made for buxom women. Yes, we still do yoga and love it and get all the benefits, but the instructions for moving between positions often isn’t meant for us. When I’m in downward facing dog and I hear the instruction to lift my left leg, then slowly move my foot between my hands, I wonder, how, exactly, this is going to happen. My breasts are already taking up the space where the waif-like instructor seems to think my knee is going to swing on through. A better instruction would be, “Now contort into ‘dog peeing on fire hydrant, pose’ and while you balance on the palm of your left hand, swing your right leg into ‘half frog pose.’ Hoist your right boob over your knee using your right hand. Now gently place your right foot back on the floor. Aaaaaand exhale.”
- Seatbelts. Oh yes. Those are a double whammy. First, I’m short, which means already the design of the seatbelt is that it wants to cross my throat, but add a shelf of boob in there and I am guaranteed a long car ride with endless seatbelt adjusting. (Under the shelf. Under the shelf. Under the shelf.) I asked on Facebook for some help on this not to long ago. One of my entirely boob-less friends suggested I just tuck the seatbelt between my breasts. I wondered if she’d ever seen Breakfast Club. (Look for Molly Ringwald putting on lipstick if you don’t know the reference.) There is no “between” my breasts for a seatbelt strap… not even if I moved my cell phone, lip balm, toast crumbs, car keys, spare change, the cat, and my toaster. Seriously. If I drove naked and on my back, there would be room for a seatbelt strap between my breasts, but that just seems to replace one problem with another.
- “You’re just showing off your breasts in that outfit.” I hear comments like this ALL THE TIME. Let’s be clear: I have great breasts. I love them. But how I dress isn’t about that. If an A-cup puts on a t-shirt, she isn’t showing off her breasts. If I put on a t-shirt, I’m showing off my breasts. If a B-Cup puts on a v-neck, she isn’t showing off her breasts. If a C-Cup wears a cardigan, she isn’t showing off her breasts. If I do any of those things, I am. Believe it or not, I don’t dress to show off my breasts. I can’t exactly hide them regardless of what I wear, so please don’t assume I’m showing them off. Actually, truth be told, I probably already had the inner debate and decided this outfit was modest. So, yeah, thanks for inadvertently calling me a whore and playing on my fears that I think everyone is staring at my boobs.
- My back hurts all the time in the place where my bra clasp is located. And my shoulders are disfigured. Yep. It’s true. I could visit the chiropractor daily to have T7 and T8 put back into place with a glorious, satisfying pop. My bra puts endless pressure on my spine because current bra design manufacturers seem to think that the support for your breasts should be on the band around your chest. I don’t know who came up with that genius idea because from what I can see, that means that I will spend my life feeling T7 and T8 slowly move out of place all day while my shoulders get permanent indentations from my bra straps anyway.
- Fashion. I look at bra websites and weep. Cute little backings like criss cross woven lace and frilly little racerback closures… all available in A, B, C cups. And then there’s pants and dresses with side zippers. SIDE ZIPPERS? When the HECK did I last see my SIDE? In order to zip up pants with a side zipper, I have to lift my breasts out of the way, hold them off to the side and crane my neck to see the side zipper. No a mirror doesn’t help, besides, they don’t have them in bathroom stalls. And don’t get me started on tube tops. What looks like a navel to collar bone tube top on everyone else looks like a single wrap tensor bandage on me.
- The staring. For whatever reason, some men feel that my big breasts were made just for their sexual purposes. Now, just so we are clear again, I do love my breasts. But I don’t love the sense of entitled ownership that some men seem to think my body’s natural design gives them. I am not a walking porn shoot. I am not an opportunity for all their fantasies to come true. Believe it or not, I wasn’t put on their earth purely to be sexualized. You want to admire? Then admire. I’m good with that. You want to ogle and make gross comments? Nicely mannered people don’t open the conversation with an assumption that my jugs and I are just gasping for some of your lovin’. So once we’ve established that you’re not nicely mannered, I reserve the right to correct your assumption any way I see fit. (Did you want your throat punch spiked?)
- STAIRS. Yes. Stairs. You read that right. I was at a conference a few years ago. The entire thing was endless stairs, but not stairs of even height. Some stairs were short little steps between platforms. Some were stairs like you’d climb in a stadium. I watched how people navigated the stairs. The buxom women like me bow their back like ballroom dancers and sort of stare over the top and side of their own body in an effort to gracelessly navigate stairs. And I just want to say: that is without exception. Unless the stairs are of consistent, predictable heights, we can’t just look down and see the stairs. When I look down, I see the food that I spilled into my bra at lunch. I haven’t seen my feet since my twenties. Arena stairs and I are not on speaking terms. Going up is easy. Going down is like trust falling repeatedly knowing there is no one to catch you.
That’s the top ten list, but there is really an overarching theme that I hear from so many women: it’s shame. Or shaming. Very few women I know with a curvy figure feel proud of their figure. There is an assumption made about women who have a big chest and that often stands in the way of being able to feel proud of their bodies. I love my body and I’ve been blessed with ample breasts, but like so many chesty women, it’s hard to feel proud when theres a stigma attached to big breasts.
Often I like to put a call to action or some sort of solution into my problem posts, but in this case, I don’t know what the call to action could be. I mean, if you randomly stopped a busty woman on the street and said, “I hope you’re proud of your boobs,” it’s unlikely she’d thank you for giving her permission to love her body. Likewise, if you nudged your friend in the ribs and said, “How ’bout them side zippers, right?” she wouldn’t be relieved that someone finally gets it.
Maybe if I have a call to action in here, it’s this: when your well-endowed friend is buying a size 8 skirt and a size 14 blouse, say nothing unless she brings it up. Then validate her experience instead of chirping up with some great ideas on how she can manage a body type you don’t have. There’s a whole experience in this world that is unique to being a top-heavy woman.