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Enlightenment and Lingerie

It is a terrible burden having breasts.

Let me amend that statement. It is a terrible burden having large breasts. Large breasts are an unfortunate yet undeniable reality of being a woman. They are something every preteen in a training bra longs for but an unwanted annoyance once they arrive. They’re like your period – highly anticipated until it arrives and suddenly ruins every semblance of normalcy you had worked so hard to achieve. Big breasts are the Kimmy Gibbler of embracing your femininity – annoying and unavoidable, and the more you try to suppress them or pretend they don’t exist, the more apparent they become.

Large breasts make every aspect of life more difficult through small yet highly irritating inconveniences. They invite unwanted attention, scrutiny and comments from people who don’t actually know you well enough to be commenting on the size/shape/overall aesthetic of your chest but who do so anyway. They become the center of outfit planning (“Is this shirt too low cut for a business meeting?”), dressing room visits (“I need a bigger size because it’s too tight in the chest”), and brunches with your girlfriends (“At least you have a woman’s cup size! I’m over here in a 32A like a preteen!”). They get in the way every time you go to the gym, despite your best efforts to buy an ultra-minimizing sports bra that won’t leave them bouncing like two sugared-up toddlers on a trampoline when you hit the treadmill. They collect crumbs when you eat a muffin while wearing a v-neck. They become the only thing your significant other ever wants to focus on, despite the numerous other alluring erogenous areas of your body. And, perhaps worst of all, they make shopping for undergarments a bitch.

At one point it became apparent to me that I needed to invest in some new bras, mainly because I realized I only had one that fit me properly without gaping weirdly under my armpits or digging into my under-boob area. Being a well-endowed woman, I’ve always been jealous of my small-chested sisters and friends who can pick up a cute polka-dotted, soft-as-a-baby’s-bottom cotton bra from the Target lingerie section during their weekly grocery shopping trip, throw it in the cart, and know that it will fit them more or less like a glove when they try it on in the comfort of their own home later.

I can’t do that. I must set aside a sizable chunk of my afternoon to undertake such a task. I can’t just meander through the Target bra aisles during a routine shopping trip, lest my frozen fruit thaw completely during my search for an under wire that won’t poke my ribs. No, I must scour the lingerie department for bras that actually come in my size. Then I must carry eight different styles to the fitting room and try not to act embarrassed when the fitting room attendant counts all the bras to make sure I’m not going steal them by walking out of the store with multiple bras on beneath my t-shirt or whatever. I have to try on that many different bras to make sure the straps won’t slice through my shoulders, the hooks won’t pinch my back fat, and the cups are big enough that my breasts aren’t spilling over the lacy fabric like bread dough rising out of a mixing bowl. But I’m sure the seventeen year-old 34AA fitting room employee doesn’t understand this, so I just fake a smile and proceed into the tiny, fluorescent-lit stall with eight bras and all that is left of my dignity. In short, bra shopping is something that rarely ends well for me, so it is something I try not to do very often.

Unless, of course, I am in desperate need of a well-fitting bra. Which, as I tried on a bunch of outfits after Christmas and noticed how saggy and unsupportive my once-cute bras had become, it turns out I was. So I gathered up all my self-confidence and strength and headed to one of my least favorite places on earth: Victoria’s Secret.

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  • Karen Li

    I’m that flat-chested bitch! LOL It’s ok. Let’s love our bodies, babes! Big and small. :) I love VS!

  • Meaghan Lanier

    Well, first of all, I really despised all of your lamenting over having large breasts. I mean, I guess if that’s how you feel then that’s how you feel, and you can’t really change it. But I’m a 34DD, and I love my boobs. Yes, it does make it difficult to find bras that work (although, FYI, Target carries a great Bali bra in a 36DD that comes in pretty lace styles…unfortunately it does not come in a 34), and there are some disadvantages. But not everyone with a large chest feels like it’s a burden day in and day out.

    Second of all, I had the complete opposite experience when I went to the semi-annual sale at Victoria’s Secret for the first time this year. Your story sounded eerily familiar at first since I am also 24, I also had not previously shopped for a “real” bra before now (i.e. where it costs more than $20 and you get fitted for it), and I had a gift card for VS so I figured I might as well. I wasn’t afraid to go to VS because I had been once before for a strapless bra, but that bra never quite fit me right. I had to seek out someone to help me and then she acted very distracted. She measured me and did not seem to know what she was doing. Then she only showed me two styles that came in that size (when they have like three or four). One was the Body by Victoria bra, which I found out well over a week later actually comes in both a demi cup and a regular cup, and I had accidentally bought the demi cup, explaining why my boobs were falling out for a week. She never explained that difference to me. I never got a nice pink card. I still ended up buying six bras, and I was very excited to find, for example, a lavender one with rhinestones on it. But I tested out the bras over the next week, and I kept falling out of them without understanding why. I didn’t spend $50+ on each individual bra to have them not fit.

    After I explained my story to some equally busty friends on two different occasions, both of them recommended Soma. They told me they thought that VS bras were poorly made and do not hold up well over time, especially for the price that you pay. I was planning to at least exchange my VS bras for something that fit (I wondered if I needed to go up to a DDD since I still hadn’t figured out the demi vs regular cup issue). But my mall also has a Soma, so I went there first. It was a 180 experience. Someone approached me as soon as I entered the store and asked if I needed help. The store did not look like the bright pink, glitter, stripper factory that VS stores look like. It looked like a regular clothing store. The girl that helped me was pretty and dressed professionally but seemed like my age, was my height and was a person of color – not some tall, skinny, over made, blonde bimbo five years younger than me with no boobs. She actually came into the dressing room with me and measured me with my top off. She had me between a 36D and a 34DD, so she had me try on their standard bra in each size. Once I explained I was losing weight and wanted these bras to last awhile, she opted for the 34DD. I noticed again a little bit of spillage, especially on the left side. She explained to me that my breasts were probably a bit different in size, and it’s totally normal to be bigger on one side. She offered to let me try a DDD but said that I would probably have too much room in the cup on the right size. She then brought in two tops, one tight fitting and one normal, so I could see that the spillage would not show in a top, even a tight one.

    After the sizing, she brought me every single style that they carry in a 34DD. She explained to me what each style is supposed to do and then came in after I tried on each one to make sure they were fitting correctly. Once I had decided on two styles I liked, she showed me what options I had in each one. It was a perfect bra shopping experience. I bought 5 bras that day and then walked down to VS and returned all 6 I had bought a few weeks ago. I spent $50 more total and got one less bra (since Soma was not having a buy one get one half off sale), but I had a much better experience, I got to shop in a normal, more comfortable store with a regular person helping and I got bras to fit me correctly. Soma’s prices are comparable to VS’s prices, and the experience was 100 times better. My only complaint would be that you can’t get the rhinestones and the color and lace choices that VS has, even online. The sauciest color my bras come in is red. But it’s worth it.

    I’m glad you had a good experience at VS, but after my experience with my VS and Soma stores, I would always recommend Soma over VS. I hope you learn to love your chest someday.

    • Michelle Mielewski Baum

      Meaghan, I think the word you may not know is “hyperbole.”

  • Stephanie Richardson

    I felt the exact same way after my last trip to VS. I got fitted(again) and discovered I am now a 32DD. The only mildly annoying thing about that trip was the fact that I had gone up a whole cup size in less than 6 months. The ladies are always so helpful even though they are usually swamped. It’s amazing the difference having a new bra that fits perfectly does for your self esteem. I walk a little straighter now. Plus with my super difficult to find size, it’s nice to know I have a place that always has my size. Like my mama always says, “Girls with big boobs need nice bras.” Glad you spoiled yourself a bit. We all need to do that once in a while :)

  • Marisa Iapicco

    I’m kind of jealous their 36DD fit you, because they don’t work out for me. You should also check out Cacique (its the Lane Bryant brand, some are in LBs and some are their own store, usually next door to LB). They are meant for larger and busty girls and they are FAB! They also do a semi-annual sale, so I get 4 bras for the price of 2 twice a year. They have super cute ones. And if you need a strapless, I have bought 2 different style strapless from there that are comfortable and supportive enough to even wear with plain t-shirts!

  • Victoria Jones

    Pardon the language, but this article changed my life. I thought I was a 40DD…that’s what VS had told me. Turns out I was a 38 6D. I told my best friend about this, she “was” a 34B, and now correctly wears a 32D or even DD. Trust me, read this and then head on over to Nordstrom and try it out. It’s so uplifting…literally.

  • Amanda Lindsey

    36DD…That’s cute. Try 36H to 36J, depending on the bra. I haven’t been able to shop anywhere but specialty boutiques for about six years now.

    That being said, I appreciate the sentiment of this post. Being well-endowed is not something you can understand if you yourself aren’t in the club. I once was bra shopping at a mall (when I still could bra shop in mall stores) and overheard a girl pick up MY bra size and exclaim, “I could fit my whole FACE in this!” Absolutely mortifying.

    And then my first trip to a specialty boutique changed my whole perspective. Granted, that first visit was a little terrifying–the lady figured out my size by having me go into the dressing room and strip down to NOTHING on top, and then she stared at my boobs for half a minute. But then she brought me a whole selection of things that not only fit, but where colorful and fun. She explained to me what type of bra would work best for me and the mechanics of how they supported the breast. Plus, the bras weren’t really any more expensive than the regular stores.

    I’ve found that no matter what your size, having someone who knows what they’re doing when they fit you is key. The higher-end stores tend to have more knowledgeable employees, even if you just go there to do the fitting and then buy your bras somewhere cheaper. If they can’t educate you on how the bra provides support or what styles will work best with your size and figure, find someone else to fit you.

  • Jenna Juxtaposition Goldsmith

    I’m a small person with a normal sized person chest! My band size ends up being 28 or 30, which is very impossible to find! I finally found that La Senza sells 32 band sizes and sometimes 30, which makes me feel hopeful for the future of not “average” sized women!

    • Chandler Batchelor

      Jenna, I have the same tiny person, normal boobs issue. When I’m lucky enough to find a 30, it’s never in the right cup size. So frustrating!

  • Rae Fletcher

    I love VS bras. Before the actual storefront came to Canada a few years ago, I shopped the website all the time. I have an entire drawer full of 40D bras that I’ve purchased from their website. They are some of the most supportive garments I’ve worn. And their boyshorts are some of my fave panties: comfy yet cute and sexy at the same time, even in an XL. So you’d think I’d be thrilled that the stores are now here in Canada and I can save on the outrageous shipping and duty charges….

    BUT…. here in Canada the stores don’t stock my sizes. For some reason the stores only stock panties and other “clothing” in sizes XS-L, and bras from a 30A-38D, with some bra styles only stocked up to a 36. What gives VS? When the online store carries a much wider size selection, why am I limited in the stores? Are store managers trying to tell me that “above average” women should not be shopping at Victoria’s Secret? It’s a major annoyance, and has pretty much turned me off of the brand altogether. The store makes me feel so self-conscious, like people are looking at thinking “what is SHE doing in here?”

    I’ve talked to management at a number of stores here, expressing my concerns/complaints. But it’s been a few years now since I made a big stink about it and the stores still don’t stock my sizes. I don’t get it…

  • Stef Wit A F

    I have to stay, as I was reading the first two pages I got more and more angry with you. I am also a 36DD. While shopping for bras can be a nightmare, I’ve learned to embrace the fact that I’m well-endowed, and enjoy the breasts that I have while they’re at what I assume is the perkiest they’ll be.

    In the end, it seems you’re beginning to to realize that DD’s aren’t the worst thing in the world. I hope you continue to have good luck in bra shopping and stop thinking it’s such a dreadful thing.

    P.S. You totally reminded me that I need to go bra shopping! I actually really like Target’s Gilligan O’Malley. They have them in full coverage DD and demi DD and they fit well for me – AND they’re only 20-25$. Victoria’s Secret, although more expensive, fit better and they last longer so don’t fret too much about the cost.

    Enjoy your boobs, fellow DD!

  • Molly Burnett

    my struggle has been not only the fact that I’m a 32DD but That I’m a 32DD on the RIGHT side and a 32D on the LEFT side, which means no matter WHAT bra I get something doesn’t fit. After I finally realized that I’m not a 34 I’m a 32 band I then have struggled to try to figure out the OTHER problem. My breasts have been different sizes as long as I can remember which means I can’t wear halter dresses or tops that have a waistline directly below my bust because it just emphasizes the different sizes. But Now that I have bought a bra that actually comfortably fits my larger breast and I KNOW they’re not going to even out (they’ve had eight years) I’m no longer as totally mortified about the concept of “evening out”. I am finally coming to appreciate my own body as well. . . thank you for your article Madeline!

  • Lisa Miller

    Thank you for this post!!! So many people hate on victorias secret for giving girls negative body image, but there are good things about the store too. All women feel confident and sexy when they get a beautiful new bra or some lacy lingerie. I love shopping at VS (even though my credit card doesn’t..) and I like that they make you feel like you are getting a VIP treatment while you try on

  • Caitlin Carbonell

    This… article is horrid. The author bashes other women, and while I’m the same size as her, she makes it seem we’re just “gigantic all over”. Uh.. has she seen women who are a 34J, H, whatever alphabet? I thought on Hello Giggles you promote POSITIVE body image- and NO slut shaming. If someone strips, they probably aren’t doing it because they *really* desire that. I also worked at VS, and again, I was probably one of the largest girls, and well, I’m not a POC, but I had glasses, natural ivory skin, and natural brown hair, and hey, guess what, I’m fat! Trashing some of the girls who worked there, and then insulting FURTHER customers… What is this woman’s problem? To boot, she’s a mother! What poor body image she’s imparting upon her children! This article is so shameful.

    Instead of lamenting how large you are- you sound as if you were the “flat-chested bitches” you keep trashing. Why is this on here, it’s so negative! yes, there are negative sides to everything, but Hello Giggles is supposed to be a positive way to express yourself, not trash others and their shopping habits..

    PS: The strippers and other people shop at VS. They are some of the sweetest girls I’ve met and non-judgmental. You could learn a thing or two from them, instead of trashing their job.

    • Kat Automatica

      Thank you!! I felt the same way reading this article. What you think about your own body is your burden to bear but PLEASE, us big girls need to stop with the name calling and body shaming directed at “skinny” girls. You can’t blame those smaller chested ladies for having smaller chests. Most of those ladies that I’m friends with envy and love my big boobs. And you know what?? I love their little boobs. Caitlin is right, this site is a place of love and acceptance and frankly I’m a little confused as to why this article (written as is) was accepted.

  • Regan Levitte

    As much as I dislike this article for bashing on other women’s lifestyles, this reminds of the first time I had gone to Victoria’s Secret. My friend convinced me after one of the two bras I had taken to college broke, and I went in feeling uncomfortable–it was loud, bright, and displayed a lot of things that I would have been uncomfortable wearing in the store. But with Kendall’s help, and a super-nice dressing room attendant, I left with three lovely bras that fit beautifully, one of which has lasted to this very day thanks to the cashier’s advice on how to care for them! Overall, VS doesn’t bother me much anymore; they sell a pretty huge variety of stuff, from lingerie to workout gear to pajamas, and while the slogans are sometimes questionable, the company, I think, is actually trying to make you feel sexy and positive about yourself.

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