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“Always wear a bra if you don’t want your tits to reach your knees.” “Wearing a bra is bad for your boobs – it actually makes them sag!” “You know, if you worked out more, you wouldn’t even need to wear a bra.”
I got my first bra at the age of 10 and rapidly ran through the alphabet until eventually reaching the unwieldy F cups I sport today. I’ve had big boobs for most of my life and, as a result, I’ve spent over two decades fielding unwanted commentary about the contents of my bra.
I don’t just mean sexual comments (though I’ve certainly gotten my fair share of those). No, the comments that truly drive me batty are the ones that position themselves as advice intended to help me keep my breasts looking their best — by which, of course, I mean keep them from sagging.
Because as everyone with breasts knows, there’s supposedly nothing worse than having a saggy pair of tits. With rare exception, the boobs we see on TV, in film, and in adult entertainment are of the round, pert, and perky type; ones that stand upright and point their nipples forward in a proud salute to youth. Breasts that give in to gravity are said to be due to old age, motherhood, or, you know, being a woman who’s committed the grave sin of not keeping it tight.
And this obsession with a certain sort of breast isn’t just a product of our Photoshop-obsessed modern era. Back in my early teens, a bit of art criticism informed me that Western paintings had long reflected a female subject’s character through the depiction of her breasts: a “civilized,” highborn white woman would always be painted with round, pert boobs; her “savage” non-white counterpart, on the other hand, would reveal her animalistic nature through long, saggy tits.
All breasts are held to this standard, of course. But since smaller breasts have an easier time staying aloft naturally, well-endowed people like myself are the ones most likely to not be living up to that gravity-defying ideal. And that’s where the advice I despise so much tends to come into play.
Over the years, I’ve heard all sorts of crackpot theories about how to get the best, most beautiful breast shape. Some people (like, for instance, Halle Berry) will tell you that it’s all about getting the right bra — or, I should say, right bras, since those who swear that bras have the power to prevent (or potentially even correct) sagging usually suggest wearing one all the time, even when you’re sleeping. One of my shittiest exes was a proponent of this theory. While describing a particularly pert set of breasts belonging to another woman, he told me that the shape of her breasts seemed to suggest she was always wearing a bra — the implication, of course, being that mine could have benefited from the same sort of rigorous regimen of bra-wearing.
Not everyone swears by the bra, of course. In fact, there’s a whole other camp that will tell you that bras are actually the enemy. Members of the anti-bra camp, who pen “helpful” articles with titles like “7 Ways Bras Can Make Breasts Sag Prematurely,” invariably cite a 2013 study conducted by sport science researcher Jean-Denis Rouillon. The study — which followed 330 women for 15 years, and which Rouillon himself notes is not conclusive — argues that bras promote sagging by weakening the tissue of the breast, offering further ammunition to those who want to couch breast sag as a moral issue rather a fundamental aspect of physics and biology. If only I’d abstained from bras as an adolescent, the theory goes, I could have strengthened my breast tissue and had youthful, upright breasts forever — never mind that even my youthful breasts were of the low-slung variety.
While these two camps may be the loudest, they’re far from the only tips that have been thrust my way. Lush sells Lovely Jubblies cream, a product that’s “packed full of tightening meadowsweet infusion and firming tiger lily petals to help fight the forces of gravity.” New Age types will swear by hydrotherapy, arguing that immersing your breasts in cold water will shock them into an upright position. Others argue that it’s a matter of doing enough push-ups: if my pectoral muscles are strong enough, they’ll manage to give me a surgery-free boob lift.
But, of course, none of it works, because the shape of the breast isn’t actually a product of behavior. It’s mostly a matter of whatever breast shape you happen to be genetically blessed with. And while some of my big-cupped siblings happen to be blessed with miraculously self-supporting sets, there’s a substantial contingent of us who have always had relatively saggy tits — and there’s nothing we can do to change that.
And to be honest, I’m fine with it. (Though I’d be lying if I said I never felt a twinge of jealousy at the sight of some DDs that don’t move an inch when the bra comes off.) My breasts have given me a lot of good times, and I love them dearly, imperfections and all. I just wish the world around me would stop peddling all this breast “improvement” snake oil — and I wish we could all realize that there’s more than one way to have beautiful, wonderful breasts.