The Girl with Big Breasts


by Hayley Doyle


That was what I was commonly referred to as.

For some, it was the girl with the big nose. Or the lanky legs. Then there was the boy with the facial hair. The boy with the fangs. The big ears. Commenting on people not meeting “typical” beauty standards was considered cruel, or it was said with pity. But breasts? No. There wasn’t an ah, poor thing, about that. Nobody jumped away from me like I had a disease. Everybody presumed that the girl with the big breasts loved it. A good time girl. Up for it. When they wobble, she giggles. She flaunts them. She shows them off with every chance she gets. All the lads love ‘em so she must looooove ‘em. Who’s that? The girl with the big breasts.


For all the women who grew up with naturally big breasts, you hear me. You get it. For there wasn’t a moment when we weren’t wishing our bazookas would shrink. For all the attention they received, we wished we could disappear. For all those times we laughed along with the over-sexualisation or gentle mockery, we were pretending. Hiding behind a mask. Being a good sport. Playing a role; the girl with the big breasts. When really, we just wanted to be, the girl.


And there are so many of us, right? Why has it been such a big deal? We’re made how we’re made, and yet, we’ve been teased, accused, struggled to find clothes to fit us or find the money to pay for the few items that do. In many ways, it’s defined who I am in. I wonder who I would be if I hadn’t been the girl with the big breasts? Would I dress, move or behave differently?


Back in the 90s, I was playing a board game at my best friend’s house. We were still primary school age, just about, our matching checkered dresses creased and dirty from playing outside in the garden. As I sat on the floor of her bedroom, taking my turn to roll the dice, something soft hit me on the head. My cheeks flushed. I became dizzy with embarrassment. My friend’s big sister had thrown a training bra at me. “You need that!” She said. And so it began.


The Guilt

It’s weird. To feel guilty for something out of your control. But I did. I felt guilty. Like it was my fault. I’d get snide looks from other girls, as if I had grown bigger breasts on purpose. When I got a job in a West End show, the costume department were faced with a challenge when they couldn’t find a halter neck bra in my size. They had to redesign the costume. I said I was so sorry. And as for male attention, well, when I didn’t return the “compliments” I was told to “put them away then.”


The Clothes

As a teenager, attempting to get into clubs, I wore the Lipsy dresses and crop tops, just like the other girls. Boys made comments. Flirted. Jeered. Back then, it was frowned upon to “take offence” and I got told to “lighten up”. It was only a bit of fun. I was just as innocent as my friends, but because of my chest size, it was presumed I was promiscuous. An attire as simple as t-shirt and jeans was “sexy”, but when I covered up with a jumper, I was “frumpy”. In my twenties, I found a love for vintage fashion, especially a nod to the 50s, celebrating the hourglass figure. I’d wear second hand dresses with chunky belts. Vintage has stuck with me, content within my old soul and evolving as I’ve grown, to 60s dresses with cute jumpers to a more boho style in recent years, especially during the summer. Still, there are contemporary fashion pieces I’d love to wear today. But modern styles rarely cater for big breasts meaning we squeeze into tops, show too much flesh or look like a tent. The body positivity movement is awesome and been a long time coming, but being self-conscious doesn’t change overnight.


The Bra and the Bikini

All hail, Bravissimo. I don’t know what I would have done without this one shop - ONE SHOP - that sells a whole range of bras, swimwear and nightwear for bigger breasted women. And it ranges from casual to beautiful to pretty to sexy to practical. All. HAIL. Other companies have popped up here and there since, but Bravissimo really was one of a kind and is still ahead of the game. Before discovering this wonder shop, I would honestly squeeze into bras, or buy one that was far too big around my back and tighten it with a safety pin. As for bikinis? Mix’n’match became the only way; small bottoms with a large top tied in a knot. And look, we know our breasts require more material and longer under-wiring, but does shopping for a bra really have to break the bank? Unfortunately, yep, it still does.


The Workout

To follow on from the bra saga, as little as 10 years ago, I would challenge anybody to find a sports bra beyond a D cup, anywhere! This baffled me. Department stores were dripping with supporting sportswear for AA cups, but nothing for those who desperately needed the support. Did that mean bigger breasted women were not welcome in the gym? Or to run? To dance? To move? How incredibly demotivating to know that when we wanted to work out, we wouldn’t feel good in our attire. Times are slowly - slowly - changing. Recently I worked with a trainer who didn’t understand why I hated ‘mountain climbers’ so much; she said I was doing them fine! But it’s because of the body weight hanging below me. That movement would feel so different with even stronger support.


Breastfeeding

This is a biggie. No pun intended. I know women who haven’t wanted to breastfeed purely because they’re too ashamed of their big breasts. How to feed your baby is your choice; but what about women who want to breastfeed, but feel shamed into not doing it? Now, breastfeeding can be hard. It’s a very personal journey. Most of my anxiety came from the size of my breasts. For a start, it was impossible to be discreet, especially in the early days when my son was learning to latch. I’d be red-faced and flustered in a cafe, or during family visits, terrified of wapping out a breast for all to see, because as many breastfeeding mamas know, covering up is NOT easy. Not when you’ve got a wriggly newborn squealing for food - from your cracked nipples - in your arms. The muslin cloth falls on the floor. The nursing cape doesn’t sit on your shoulder correctly. It’s less stressful for you - and your baby - to not feel pressured into covering up. When I had my daughter, I was more confident. I remembered the tricks I’d taught myself. The best clothes to wear. How to unhook the nursing bra with one hand quickly. I also told myself I didn’t give a hoot who saw what. I was simply feeding my baby. But deep down, I had all the same worries as before.


I guess we all have a part of our body that has somehow defined us. I don’t hate my big breasts. I genuinely hope I won’t need to have a reduction in years to come, for the weight can cause neck, shoulder and back problems for many women. Sure, I have days when I don’t like them. And days when I think, yeah, you’re both great! Because they are! Breasts are great! No matter what their size. Every item of clothing should be available to all who wish to wear it. And if your cleavage is on show, then so what? Let it be seen, loud and proud. It’s not a random invitation for sex. Or triggering comments. It’s simply part of your beautiful body. So let’s abolish the rules once and for all! And let’s hope that the body positivity movement becomes mainstream, so society will be more accepting of how people look.