Let's Talk Bras. Let's Talk Nipples.
If there is perhaps one thing both men and women are utterly clueless about, it is bras. Yes, I am going ahead and making this incredible generalisation. I am even going to dare say that I am almost 80% sure that if you are wearing a bra right now, it is most likely in the wrong size.
In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm wearing the wrong bra size.
First, let's go through a checklist:
- Have you ever gotten fitted?
- If yes, was it at Victoria's Secret?
- Do you buy most of your bras at Victoria's Secret?
- Do you know the difference between a cup and a band size?
If you've answered yes/yes/yes/no or no/yes/no then for God's sake, keep on reading.
In case you haven't figured it out from the questions, I hate Victoria's Secret. I think they are a brilliant bloody scam, though. First of all, don't even get me started on their "angels." Second, it was started by a guy whose original concept was to have stores that sold lingerie to male customers so that they could feel comfortable going in and purchase sexy sexy little pieces for their wives. Obviously, properly fitting women was not a concern to start with.
Which leads me to this point: Sales assistants at Victoria's secret do not know how to properly size women. They are taught an absolute bullshit and nonsensical way to measure women's chests. And because their sizes are limited, they try to insist that you are a size that is sold in their stores. After being fitted there in high school, I was given a bra to try. My boobs were literally popping out, the straps were slipping off, and the sales assistant was telling me I looked perfect. Why? There was no smaller band and no bigger cups, and she probably didn't know herself how a bra was supposed to look. And because the brand knows that their bras technically don't fit most women, they make their bands extremely stretchy.
Go ahead, take out your VS bra. Put it on. Now see how far the back strap goes. If it goes more than 2cms out, then it is not doing its job as a bra.
For reference, here is how a properly fitted bra should look:
1. Your band should not be climbing up. Instead, it should sit straight across, horizontally.
2. Your boobs should not be popping out in the front, the cup should be perfectly shaped to your breast. If your band fits tightly and feels right, but your boobs are popping out, then you need to go up a cup (or more). Another good way to know if your bra is too small (either the cup or the band, or both) is if the gore (the piece connects between each cup, in the front center) is not resting against your sternum. If it's popping out, then this is a clear indication that you are not wearing the right size.
3. There shouldn't be any sag in the front. This means the cup is too big.
I got these images from Bratopia, which does a good job explaining how a bra should fit, but I really recommend you head over to Reddit's A Bra That Fits, because they really know their stuff and they have a bunch of helpful guides that will do a better job than me. All you need is a measuring tape, your body, and 5 minutes. And then your life will be forever changed.
Because yes, wearing the right bra makes a huge different. For back pain, for aesthetic purposes too, but most importantly, for your comfort.
A word of warning: If you do this properly, you will most likely be quite shocked by your size and perhaps evoke disbelief. At Victoria's Secret, I was told I was a 34 DD. After properly fitting myself, I realized I was actually a 32 F. The sizes might seem quite erroneous to some of you because mass retailers simply don't use these measurements. However, I can assure you that almost any proper bra company does. Head over to BareNecessities, HerRoom or Figleaves, order a bra in different sizes if you want, and embrace your new world (which, hopefully, has free shipping). If you live close to a Nordstrom, I've also found that they do a great job fitting women properly and have a wide variety of sizes available.
Finally, another reason why I hate Victoria's Secret? Almost all their bras are padded. I do not understand this obsession with hiding our nipples. EVERYONE has nipples. Nipples are great. Nipples are beautiful. Nipples have fed all of you. Nipples will continue to feed the crawling, destroying creatures of this earth.
Padded bras do not make your breasts look nicer or fuller. They look like your breasts have two very uncomfortable party hats. Or a shield. Because that's what padding essentially does. It shields you. It restricts your nipples, and morphs your breasts into two stacks of dough.
And so what if we can see your nipples through your shirt because it's cold? IT'S COLD! Your nipples have a right to be hard! So are that guy's next to you! (his nipples, darling, his nipples...)
So yes, I, too, am on the bandwagon to #freethenipple (looking at you Miley Cyrus).
So should you....once you have a properly fitting bra.
And for crying out loud, don't go to Victoria's Secret.