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Open Letter to, well, Everyone

Dear World (but Most Especially ABC & Fox):

This isn't so much about showing skin on plus size models as it is about showing cleavage of plus size models. Because, in our society, it is often perfectly acceptable for an A or B cup to wear tops that just barely cover their nipples, but should a lady with a larger cup size wear a neckline even hinting a cleavage line, suddenly we're up in arms about 'appropriateness'?

The size of my breasts are indeed larger than average, but that does make them 'excessive' as in 'excessively tawdry'. My breasts, by virtue of their relative size, are no more inherently sexual than smaller ones, despite popular opinion. And yet I am constantly accosted by the 'appropriate' police when it comes to clothing, especially in office and professional situations while my small-breasted colleagues receive naught but praise for necklines that cut far, far deeper and hide far, far less than anything I've ever worn (including many of my bras). I have even been asked at pool sides when wearing a bathing suit top that covers a significantly higher ratio breast than the average bikini top in the area to 'cover up' and 'be modest', as if the very existence of breasts the size and shape of mine is an offense.

My breasts are not -- ARE NOT -- offensive. They are not lewd or tawdry or shameful. Suggesting otherwise, however, is incredibly offensive.

Also? Since we're having a little breast rant right now, a few other things I'd like to 'get off my chest' so to speak:

  1. Stop STOP STOP asking me if my breasts are 'real'. Or 'natural'. Especially in that little *winkwinknodnod* way that suggests whatever I say you've already made up your mind.

  2. When you ask me my bra size and I tell you, BELIEVE ME. I am NOT lying to you when I say I'm a 32G/H. I am not trying to scandalize you or show off. Educate yourself about bra sizing: it is not what you think it is. A 32D and a 38D are absolutely NOT the same cup size with a bigger band. The letter in a bra size is a ratio indicator, not a static or interchangable cup size with a standard volume.

  3. If you're going to talk about 'appropriateness' to a large-busted woman, examine your hypocrisy first. Compare what they're wearing to what the small-breasted women are wearing (especially in the office, where this sort of oversexualized shaming of large-busted women is rampant).

  4. Stop telling me how 'lucky' I am. Especially when I talk about my chronic back pain, about the outrageous cost of bras that fit me (when and if I can find them at all), or about a social and retail industry that fetishizes my body but does not actually make clothing that fits me. From where I stand, your B or C cup is 'lucky'.

  5. The next person who tells me I have the 'breasts of a porn star' is going to get kicked. Hard. Male or female. If you are male, you're gonna get kicked in the groin.


The Lane Bryant commercial is no more sexualized or outrageous than a Victoria Secret ad. Anyone who says it is is a hypocrite. If you don't believe me, check them out side by side:





Tired of the big-bust shame,

Chelle

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
miss_mishi
Apr. 22nd, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
omg I want to marry this rant. seriously.

I'm only a 38D/DD and while I don't have the back pain (yet...probably) I feel like I'm constantly on the watch for inappropriateness. It's really difficult to find a shirt that doesn't show cleavage. I always wear camisoles and even those drop down.

(also the lane bryant underwear/bra is much less revealing than the victoria secret ones and I'm still so pissed that commercial wasn't shown)
bazcat89
Apr. 22nd, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
Oh my god yes. All of this. I am sorry that the sexualization of large breasts makes you feel uncomfortable when I wear well-fitting clothing. I am just so fucking sorry.

And yet I am constantly accosted by the 'appropriate' police when it comes to clothing, especially in office and professional situations while my small-breasted colleagues receive naught but praise for necklines that cut far, far deeper and hide far, far less than anything I've ever worn (including many of my bras). I have even been asked at pool sides when wearing a bathing suit top that covers a significantly higher ratio breast than the average bikini top in the area to 'cover up' and 'be modest', as if the very existence of breasts the size and shape of mine is an offense.

Especially this. I love my nice work clothes, but I think it is telling that they all show more on me than I think they're supposed to, and if I go a size up I will look like a box. Fucking clothing industry. And sometimes I even feel ~inappropriate~ if my breasts are visible beneath the shirt, which is really stupid because there's nothing I can do about but...yeah. It bothers me how small breasted women are all like D: D: LUCKY I WISH I HAD YOUR BOOBS when they're the ones who are seen as "hot" and they're the ones who can fit into those fabulous little dresses.

Edited at 2010-04-22 09:51 pm (UTC)
snorkackcatcher
Apr. 22nd, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
Perhaps they were calculating appropriateness on the basis of absolute not relative exposed area? :)

Obviously if I said I objected to either of those ads -- you'd know I was lying, but I don't think they'd cause that much controversy over here in general. Is it just an American thing? It amuses me how the old "uptight Brits, relaxed Americans" stereotype seems to have become completely reversed. :)
afterthree
Apr. 22nd, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
Overall the Brits seem much more comfortable with sex in general, at least than the Americans. Not sure where the average Canadian would fall on the Brit-to-America spectrum.
_thirty2flavors
Apr. 23rd, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)
Ontario just repealed its new sex-ed curriculum OVERNIGHT because so many people had a hissyfit about ~teaching kinds about the gayz~, so.... we suck, basically.
train_lindz
Apr. 23rd, 2010 12:33 pm (UTC)
*rolls eyes at province*
_thirty2flavors
Apr. 23rd, 2010 02:58 pm (UTC)
Man I went from being so proud of Ontario to SO ANGRY in 24 hours, well done, everyone.
afterthree
Apr. 23rd, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC)
I heard about that. Clearly someone from Alberta screwed you over. :P
bambamiamtam
Apr. 25th, 2010 12:05 pm (UTC)
I thought it was about supposedly over masturbation?
51stcenturyfox
Apr. 22nd, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC)
Yes, Americans object to body shots, but gratuitous violence is way cool!

I'm sorry you have to put up with these stupid comments and the clothing police. That's ridiculous.

I'm a C-cup person, but I will be buying some bras from Lane Bryant. That's an awesome (and sexy) ad.
telwyndubois
Apr. 23rd, 2010 01:49 am (UTC)
OMFG I totally agree. You would think, that in a world where big breasts are attractive, they would sell bras that would fit AND be reasonably priced. This appears to not be the case. Especially with strapless bras - I still have yet to find one that fits me just right.

*hug* I know how you feel about clothing police. I'm always tugging my v-neck shirts up (especially since I'm short, so people can just look down, and, well...), or wearing spaghetti straps under everything, and it is such. a. pain. in. the. ass. Also, why don't people ever make button-up shirts that fit right? Like, wtf? One of the comments I tend to get is, "You have such big boobs for an Asian!"

-_-

But anyway. Aren't you planning on getting a reduction soon? :)
afterthree
Apr. 23rd, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
Just heard back from the surgeon's coordinator, and I have a tentative date. It could change depending on availability of the O.R. (emergency surgeries will obviously push mine back).
train_lindz
Apr. 23rd, 2010 12:32 pm (UTC)
That Victoria Secret ad offends me, blugh. The body image message that they were sending to young girls is terrible.

I APPLAUD YOUR POST.
ali_kira
Apr. 23rd, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
As much as I'm not a larger breasted woman, as someone who has actually written a paper & poster presentation on breast size (years ago, mind you), this more than just frustrates me. I mean it's bad enough that *I* have a hard time finding bras that fit (they're often half a cup size off of the ideal size, or they don't have the right cup/band size to fit me, or because I'm smaller chested they don't offer anything that's not padded to the moon but meh), and I'm not even a particularly unusual size if my research is to be believed.

I mean regardless of the fact that nearly everyone believes that EVERYONE else prefers a breast size larger than the one that they actually do (yes this sounds confusing but it is based on some sound research) the preference is generally centered around a normal distribution (just like anyone else might imagine)... and I'm thinkin' that the actual breast sizes of people follow a similar distribution. But what does the media tend to focus on? A combination of bashing the extremes in the worst of ways (note that what the media considers the extremes often includes nearly everyone).... and well although the populance has become much more diverse over the years, the variety of clothing sizes available has been reduced (you can see this especially in shoe widths as well) -- which is just ridiculous.

Great post!
afterthree
Apr. 23rd, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
If I was small busted, the lack of non-padded bra options would drive me up the wall.

Do you still have the paper? I'd love to read it!
penny_lane_42
Apr. 24th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
If I was small busted, the lack of non-padded bra options would drive me up the wall.

I was actually just ranting about this the other day. I don't mind the kind that are slightly padded to keep the nips from showing when I'm cold--not because I think nipples are shameful, but just because our stupid culture is so distracted by them that I like to minimize it--but it seems like every single bra that I try on has tons of padding. Like it's telling me that there's no possible way that I could be fine with my body being the way it is--that it has to be different if it's going to be acceptable. There's so much shame built in it. I'm not going to pretend like it's as much shame as someone who's much larger-busted endures, but that's the thing about the patriarchy: there's enough shame to go around!

We're really screwed either way, aren't we?
steveshot
Apr. 27th, 2010 01:30 am (UTC)
Wow. I'm so in that camp right now. It freaking sucks! :(

But, yeah, it's saying that I cannot accept me as who I am... even though I'm pretty okay with it... I was just happy to find a bra that actually freaking fits me! I'm a very, very small backed person... very small band size... Very hard to get.

I can empathize with others that cannot find what they are looking for, big or small... different shapes! Nips showing! I know how it feels... and it doesn't make you feel good, that's for sure.

I hate the double standard though, I really do. :/ There's enough shame for everyone and we cannot be okay with ourselves as who we are.

We're screwed either way, yeah...
ali_kira
May. 19th, 2010 11:22 am (UTC)
I probably have the paper somewhere... you'd have to ask me again when I'm back in Canada. If it's anywhere, it's most likely on my harddrive at home. I also have a hard copy somewhere else but that would be even harder to find. But yes, I should be able to find it for you when I'm back in Edmonton. Remind me if I forget?
steveshot
Apr. 27th, 2010 01:26 am (UTC)
Thank you, Thank you!

It's just as bad to not have cleavage... like myself. I get berated for that!

And I'm sympathize with you... it's my band size (small!!!) that's the issue for me. And it must be padded in some shape, way or form. So it's a crime not to have breasts either, right?

And I hate that clothing companies think you "fit a mold"... women do not at all!

The media is a lot to blame... so is parenting and other issues.

I could hug you right now!
oxymora
Apr. 23rd, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
*points at Nine*

And that Lane Bryant ad happens to be an awesome bra ad! I usually dislike bra ads because they're like the other one you posted -- they seem to be addressed at men so that they can buy their girlfriends uncomfortable, ill-fitting bras.
penny_lane_42
Apr. 24th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
As someone who's on the extreme other end of the spectrum, I can't begin to say that I know how you feel, because I don't. But I can say that this sort of double-standard infuriates me. It's just another way for the culture to steal our ownership of our own bodies, isn't it?

I typically hate all bra commercials because I feel like they all play into the male gaze more than anything, but I do think that Lane Bryant commercial is both classier and less offensive than the VS one.

WHY DOES THE WORLD SUCK SO HARD?
bambamiamtam
Apr. 25th, 2010 12:12 pm (UTC)
I feel extremely stupid for not knowing it was a ratio thing. Well, I mean, not that stupid because no one ever really teaches you these things.

I also know that I have totally no real relationship with bras, since at 19 I went to visit my aunt in another province who forced me into a proper shop and I found out I was not a C like I thought, but an E (at the time). That was kind of horrifying.

I don't have to worry about other people's inappropriateness reviews because I just don't wear anything that shows cleavage, ever. I do remember when I used to and how it made boys stare and I just found it funny. But I'd probably be annoyed by it now.

I feel like I pretty much just ignore my boobs as an appendage I'd rather not deal with. None of my bras really fit properly so I use the few that do closest, because bra shopping to me is about as painful and scarring as poking my eyes out with a million tiny metal penises.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )