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My bra size has been 34A for about as long as I can remember. A life with small boobs is all I know. I was a teenager in the early aughts, in the days of low-rise jeans and midriff tops and big, pushed-up boobs. It was the height of Victoria’s Secret’s popularity, and padded bras were everywhere. Before I even really needed a bra, I owned at least a half-dozen padded ones. And I mean padded.
The thing about padded bras is, unless you’re wearing an outfit that centers around deep cleavage, the only thing that extra cushion is doing is puffing your chest up underneath a T-shirt or sweater. The result, more often than not, is an extremely unnatural-looking bust line. Women who are actually a 36C have breasts that move when they walk. A woman with an A cup, like me, wearing a padded bra that’s meant to mimic the size of a 36C looks kind of crazy — there’s no jiggle, no movement. The dense padding just sits there. Not to mention what happens when you take your bra off in front of a new partner and everything just... deflates.
I’m almost 30, and I still have a drawer full of padded bras. I wear them when I have to, which is either when my regular T-shirt bras are in the wash or when I need to go strapless (the only strapless bra I own is, yes, from Victoria’s Secret, and yes, it’s a push-up).
The cold hard truth is that these bras that line the very bottom of my underwear drawer are just so uncool. Bras have gotten less and less fussy over the past few years, and the bralette industry is booming. The only place a bra like this works is at a bachelorette party or a trip to Vegas, when all the normal rules go out the window.
So therein lies the problem: I still own a bunch of things that are certifiably lame. But bras are expensive! And I’m not about to invest in all new undergarments. I’ve splurged on three ThirdLove bras that I love — the cups are soft and lined with memory foam, and the resulting shape is really natural-looking — but they’re, like, $68 each. I can’t justify throwing out all the other bras I’ve accumulated over the years that I spent 40 of my hard-earned teen dollars on. But honestly, should I really still own something I bought over a decade ago with allowance money?
So what next? Hang on to them until bazooka breasts come back into fashion? Or just donate them and pass on the padded torch to the younger version of me: a flat-chested Gen-Z tween who has yet to learn that small boobs are cool, too?