Monday, August 4, 2014

The Problematic Way we Talk about Female Superheroes' Bodies

Black Widow

I love almost all things related to fantasy, superheroes, and mystical powers.  I just can't get enough of it.  Admittedly, I'm not a huge comic book reader (I prefer either TV/movies or straight up books - primarily because how problematic the sexism is there) but I certainly have read my fair share of them too.

Comics books come underneath a lot of criticism for sexism. The main arguments are:

  • Not enough female superheroes (and not enough depth to the existing ones)
  • Not enough female writers
  • Not enough female superheroes make it to the big screen
  • All these three are significantly worse when it comes to women of color
  • Female superheroes are highly sexually objectified  and wear skimpy clothes while the men have more practical outfits (and more practical poses etc)
  • Female superheroes have "huge chests" and "huge butts".  
The first five, I'm 100% on board there.  They are serious problems  and need to be fixed.  If you want to talk about the discriminatory nature of comic books even on a more general nature you could add that their needs to be more non-white male characters too (and authors and depictions on the big screen).  And there should also be more non-straight or strictly gender defined characters.  

Slut Shaming and Body Type Assumptions

But the last point?  The way the discussion goes down here bothers me a lot.  Even  many feminist women who should know better reinforce the ideas that women with large butts and large chests are hypersexual, unintelligent, and are only there to serve the male gaze. That's not even mentioning the idea that women who wear less clothes are also somehow less than.   I'm sorry, but WHAT?  Aren't we going into the realm of slut-shaming here?  And making a lot of assumptions based on a woman's body type?  

Wonder Woman
Some of the quotes I've found on the subject are the following:

If you’re drawing Spider-Woman with a huge chest and a suit that leaves nothing to the imagination, the words that come out of her mouth have less and less meaning.
from here.

The new female Thor.

And another:

but the way modern artists contort women into the most upsetting shapes, while giving them insane proportions, would make you average sex doll say “that’s a bit much.” And who can you trust more than a talking sex doll?

from here.

There are more out there with similar sentiments but it boils down to the idea that large butts/breasts=pron star body or sex doll.  I've discussed previously how the idea of extreme sexualization of large breasts can harm breastfeeding rates.  I've also gotten into the idea that somehow large breasts reflects on a person's intelligence.

Isn't about time that we STOP making assumptions about a women based on her body type alone?  This subject strikes very close to my heart being that I have a very similar body type to many women in comics.  I have a muscular figure WITH large breasts and a large butt.  I was a college athlete and continue to do weight lifting and swimming to this day.  Sure, I still have some extra pounds from having two kids but I have muscle there AND curves.

While I understand the sentiments of the authors and I understand that they are trying to critique the blatant sexism that is rampant in the most common comic books and superhero portrayals, we still have to be careful about our words and understand the deeper problems.

Body type doesn't determine your personality

This idea is so deeply entrenched in our culture that women can get fired for looking "too pretty", "too sexy", or "too distracting".  The idea of the "dumb blonde with big boobs" constantly arises in jokes and stereotypes in media.  But it's time to die a long over due death.  Your breast size (or butt size) has NO reflection whatsoever on your intelligence.  Yet it's very rare to see intellectual women in media being represented by a curvy women.

You see in the quotes above how it's clear that the authors feel like your bust size reflects on the reliability of your statements.  The larger the bust, the less meaningful your words.  As a very large busted women with a Ph.D I find this pretty damn offensive.

See, here's the thing about comic books that actually is good for curvy women.  For once we actually have women that look more like us.  Don't get me wrong there are still some very, very deep problems there (I get to them below) but it's so rare that my body type is depicted as strong or powerful (aren't all curvy women supposed to be  dumb sex dolls that just sit around waiting for a man to come along?) that I actually enjoy this aspect of comic books.

Now, I'm not saying I want all comic book heroines to look like me (certainly not! I wish there was a hell of a lot more diversity there, again, see below).  But I also relish that idea that curvier women are allowed to be strong and powerful in comic books where so much of the rest of media tells me that I'm overweight, weak, or a hypersexual being.

Put some freaking clothes on!

Or don't.  Whatever you do is your choice.  The issue is when women are required to wear less clothes than men.  That's the problem.  Not that women are wearing skimpy clothes in and of itself.  If all the male superheroes were just wearing jock straps while fighting crime, I would take no issue with how the women were dressed.

I think this is even an bigger issue when you're talking about curvy women.  It's a pretty well known fact that busty women are told in the work place that their shirts are inappropriate when they are wear the exact same shirt as a smaller-breasted women.  This happens with curvy teens in school uniforms too. It's not fair.  The phrase "a tasteful amount of cleavage" just makes my entire body cringe.  What if your breasts are so large, only a turtleneck makes you pull that off?

Yeah, but their breasts are CLEARLY implants

So what?  Who cares?  Maybe they were a cancer survivor or a mom whose had multiple kids?  Maybe they lost a significant amount of weight and just had loose skin for breasts pre-op?  Maybe their breast tissue never developed?  Or maybe its none of the above and they just wanted larger breasts?  That is that woman's business and nobody else's.

The deeper problems... 

The problem ISN'T the skimpy clothing OR the large breasts and butts.  The problem is the lack of diversity.  The problem is the slant towards females having more shower scenes, more overtly sexualized body parts and lack of agency.

But, but, what about how many men are only shown one male body type??? Look up false equivalency and read this comic...

False Equivalency

Going back to the lack of diversity.  A good explanation for it is

It’s important to remember that idealization of the form is not the same as sexualization of the form.  Something can be idealized without being sexualized.  But in superhero comics, because the forms that female characters are based on have their roots in porn and models, the form becomes even more sexualized once it is idealized to perfection. Is there anything wrong with perfection in fictional stories? No. Is there anything wrong with superheroes being beautiful sexual beings? Of course not. Is there anything wrong with titillation for the sake of titillation? No, not in the right context.  But because the vast majority of female superheroes are rendered this way, it leaves context out. It becomes ALL about titillation and sex, regardless of context.  And that creates a problem.  And it’s one of the many ways that anyone interested in looking at things objectively can see that…no, this is not equal..
from here. When they are always all the same, that's the issue.  Not the large breasts and butts themselves, not even the skimpy clothes.  It's the sameness.  It's the reductionism of the female form and personality into ONLY a very specific form and sexual being.  I do take issure to some of her language there (specifically that large breasts+butt=perfection and comparing this immediately to porn).

For example, I am bothered by the author above's phrase:

Porn star and model body types suggest beauty, sex, and frequently, submissiveness. None of those qualities tie directly to superheroes.

In that she associates a specific body type with certain characteristics.  Why can't women with very curvy body types be strong?  Why do they need to be submissive or sexual?  Our body types don't dictate who we are as people.  Maybe that isn't what she meant here but it comes off as such.

But going back to the idea of diversity.  I actually think comic books miss out on something when they include a lack of diversity in body types.  One really awesome quote that I found reinforcing the need for diversity is:

Superhero characters are products of design. If design matters, there should be some consistency in a character’s look from one artist to the next – and some inconsistency between characters from a single artist. It should matter that She-Hulk is big and Shadowcat is slender. It should matter that Superman is bigger than Batman. It should matter that Power Girl doesn’t look like Supergirl, and it should matter that Spider-Man won’t be confused for Captain America in the dark. If design matters, if character matters, then diversity matters. Superheroes shouldn’t have to look like Olympians, but they should look as diverse as Olympians do.

Read More: Olympians: Superhero Bodies and What Real Athletes Look Like |
Even if we require all superheroes to be athletes (and I'd argue that is one big assumption in and of itself because if your power is to be invisible or telekinesis why do you need to be super fit?).   There's a huge variety in what female athletes look like...

It should be pointed out that the issue of diversity is even more embarrassing to comic books when you realize the lack of racial and ethnic diversity.

What about female empowerment and using their sexuality?   

Another issue that is deeper is that these women are using their sexuality as a weapon because they have to NOT because they want to:

“But these women are so empowered,” people cry! “Don’t they just own their sexuality?”
Sure. I could buy that if any of these female characters’ storylines didn’t revolve around primarily the men in their life. But they don’t. So, yeah, not buying that.
These female characters aren’t exerting sexuality because they want to. They’re doing it because they have to. It’s the only way they are afforded (somewhat) equal status to men.

from here

 Sexual objectification in comics is currently very lopsided... 

One of the clearest representations of the current inequality is through the Hawkeye Initiative.  The artist substitutes in Hawkeye into all the clearly sexually objectified positions of women in comic books.

Taken from the Hawkeye Initiative

At first glance it might seem ridiculous or even silly, but this confronts so much preconceived culture stereotypes and notions that it really tests many of our ideas of gender identity.

You can't claim equality when one gender is clearly being objectified significantly more than the other.  It goes back to the idea of false equivalence.  The male superheroes fulfill the male fantasy of the perfect (hetro, white, powerful) male whereas the females fulfill the MALE's fantasy of the perfect, NOT the female fantasy. Even when we see the male superhero's muscles it's there as a part of the male's fantasy about himself, it's not their for the female gaze (or gay male gaze).  I've talked in the past about about what many find attractive about men and I have to say it's not just big muscles, height, and square jaws!

It's visually boring and confusing

Comic books certainly aren't the only form of media that is guilty of this but you'd think artists would who have the ability to create heroines of any shape or size would play around with that more, you know?  Media is very different than in real life because you only view the characters for a very short time period and in very specific settings so if anything you want your cast of characters to be the most diverse looking as possible for others to be able to distinguish them.

I can think of a number of TV shows and movies that fall into the sameness gap i.e. they have characters that are so visually indistinguishable from each other that I have difficulties telling them apart.  Probably the worst offender that I can think of off hand is Da Vinci's Demons where Lorenzo Medici's wife and mistress look so similar on the small screen that I didn't realize they were separate people until we were a few episodes into the show.

Lucrezia Donati - Lorenzo's mistress

Clarice Orsini - Lorenzo's wife
I mean does the guy have a type or what?  They're similar in height, weight, body type, hair color etc.  It's a bit too much, isn't it?


Can we please solve these deeper problems and stop criticizing curvy women and being the slut shaming police?  Please?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Elomi Rita in 34HH Mini Review

Another mini-review is up!  This time it's the Elomi Rita, which up until this point is the best fitting bra from Elomi that I've managed to try.  Since I'm hanging out in 32 bands, Elomi is finally somewhat within my reach and I was really excited to get my hands on the Elomi Rita courtesy of the Full-Figured Chest.

Elomi is one of the plus-sized brands among the Eveden group.  It carries band sizes from 34-44 and cup sizes D-JJ.  Elomi stands out among other plus-sized brands in that it carries beautiful long line bras, basques, babydolls, and swimwear.  They also carry plunges up to J cups (UK sized), which is rare for many brands, especially for a plus-sized lingerie brand.  They make a real effort to provide beautiful, colorful, and comfortable lingerie for plus-sized women.


As I said in the intro, this was the best fitting of the Elomi bras that I tried, that being said, it was still about a cup size too small.  It wasn't a horrible fit but the center gore didn't quite lay flat, and especially on my larger side there was a big of bulging.  I'm pretty confidence that a 34J could have been a really good fit.  Ideally, I would have gotten to try a 32JJ but, sadly, Elomi doesn't carry 32 bands.  This means that compared to my usual Ewa Michalak size I'm about one cup size smaller.  In Fantasie and Panache I usually need about a 32J or 32JJ so it seems to run similarly to those two.

The bra was extremely comfortable and this is one I'd definitely consider buy, especially for T-shirt days.  Hourglassy (who has a much shorter torso and is more full-on top than me) also has a review up and she found that there was too much space in the bottom of the cups/too high of underwires for her.  Since I have a long torso, the underwires were definitely NOT a problem! Moreover, I always appreciate more room in the bottom of the cups being that I have bottom heavy breasts.  It just goes to show how different the same bra can fit on two women.


As you can see in the pictures the bra itself has a wider center gore and tends to spread the breasts out wide.   The fit is pretty similar to my Fantasie Kara, not surprising, since Elomi and Fantasie are sister brands.  The cups are fairly rounded with a small upward point but nothing too noticeable.  From the handful of Elomi bras that I got to try over at the Full Figured Chest's house, I'd say the shape is pretty standard for Elomi.

The detailing on the bra isn't *that* exciting.  At least for someone like me, who has tried a lot of lingerie.  However, ladies who are just stepping outside of their comfort zone of the traditional black/white/beige bras might find the bright colors exciting (and the colors ARE very pretty!).  The cups are smooth so they'll do well underneath t-shirts, even if a seam or two might show up.

General Comments

  • Recall that this is a mini review so I do not own the item of clothing and can't comment on wear over time, how well it works for breastfeeding, price point etc. 
  • Other reviews can be found by: Hourglassy, Fussy Busty
  • I didn't have a chance to try breastfeeding in this but my guess would be that it wouldn't be that easy considering this is a more full-fit bra.  
  • It seemed pretty true to size for your average Eveden group bra (compared to Fantasie).

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bra Fitting in Malta at Boux Avenue- Guest Post from Linda!

1 comment:
I'm always interested in life in other Bra Deserts (besides just here in Brazil!)

Being on vacation in Malta, I had the time and energy to seek out Boux  Avenue for the second time to get a bra fitting.  I went last year in February, and I ended up fitting the poor assistant instead of the other way around.. I did complain about Boux in a Maltese facebook group twice during the last year, only to be told, it could not be true, they where good at what they where doing and had many happy customers.

As I well know, every shop and every assistant can have a bad day, so this year, I decided to go back to see for myself if my first experience had been wrong.

I was met by a lovely assistant whom I asked for a bra fitting. She said yes, and we went into a changing room where she used a measuring tape with centimeters on one side and inches on the other side, to measure me.  The shop looked amazing, so pretty and feminine.  She did measure me without any clothing between the measuring tape and my body, which I found really good. But then she did the strangest thing. Boux back sizes are in inches, so for me, the logical thing would be to use the inches side of the measuring tape to measure me, but she used the centimeter side and then looked on a small chart she was carrying around with her, and figured 29" inches was 77 centimeters. Then she measured my breasts around on top of my bra. Again using centimeters.  Her conclusion was, my size is a 36 D/DD.  I asked her if she really was sure and showed her the measuring tape in inches when I measured myself (28") She then said, well 28" equaled 83 cm (which it does not, it equal's 71.1cm).  So she felt confident that I was a 36 DD.

I said sure, and she wanted to leave me in the changing room to go and grab some bras.  I asked if they had a room with a chair, as I am disabled and have issues standing for long periods of time.

She was very friendly and showed me another changing room with a chair and also, how to adjust the lighting if I wanted to and the call button to call for an assistant if needed. I really liked those features, that is actually something other companies should think of implementing as it can be quite harsh lighting which shows you every thing you might not like about your body. Also, there was no need to pop out of the changing room to search for an assistant, using the call button and mentioning the name of the changing room one was in, would do the trick.

I left the light on the brightest, knowing full well, I was planning to take pictures.

I only managed to take pictures of the two first bras I tried, after that, the friendly assistant spent a lot of time talking with me in the changing room and bless her, I sometimes forget to sit down to relive the pain in my knees, and she kept telling me, it was fine for me to sit down and talk.

She first brought me two different bras in a size 36DD, one nude t shirt bra, and one very pretty black bra with embroideries.

Well I started with the nude t shirt bra and as pictures speak louder than words, here are the pictures of me in it:

The fit was just so wrong, it wasn't even funny. The back band was on the tightest hook and I could still have pulled it ever further away from my body.

Now the black bra was really pretty and for the untrained eye, it might not look as such a bad fit:

But the back was too big, the cups where way too small.

I showed this bra to the lovely assistant and she agreed, going down in the back and up in the cup would be better.
She then fetched some 34" bras, I think in an f cup. Which again, did not fit. One of the bras was not bad in the back, but since the cup size was so of and also, it was hot in the changing room and I am not sure how tight it really was as I do the fasten in the front and turn routine and since my skin was a bit moist, I just never could try to fasten it on the second or third hook.

After talking to the assistant for a while, I showed her how my Comexim bra fits and she agreed to the fact, it was a much better fit.  I also asked her why they measured in centimeters to convert it back to inches instead of measuring directly in inches, she did not know. This is how they where taught.

As the conversation moved on, I suggested she take a look at and their fitting instructions/video as well as and their fitting instructions, which are both good companies with good instructions. She seemed keen and asked me to please write it down on a note for her, which I did just before I left. Also, I asked her to google the war on +4 so she would learn about that as well.

Again, I really want to stress, the assistant did as best she could,  she had simply not been taught how a proper fitting should be. The whole time she was friendly and professional.

After getting back home to our apartment in Malta, I wrote yet another complaint about Boux avenue in a Maltese group, where the manager of Boux Malta was tagged and started attacking me. making a big deal out of the fact, I do not use a picture of myself online but one of my dogs.  She also managed to get the group manager to have me delete my complaint, as I should take it up directly with the manager.  So I did, I showed her the pictures here on the blog, I told her about the wrong fitting, I made sure to mention the very nice lady fitting me and that she was not at fault.

I did get a reply this morning, stating the assistant had 2 years experience and herself, the manager had 8 years experience. The assistant had felt comfortable, that she had found my true back size (34") and the manager told me, she herself would like to do a fitting with together with one of her assistants on me next week. Because when it comes down to it, it is not about the numbers or letters she said.
Which i do agree with, if  34F had fitted, I would have bought it.
I did not get any excuse for her behavior towards me in a public facebook group, no sorry, " we should look into your complaint and how other companies fit (I asked her to watch Bravissimo and how they do it as well)"
Every time I have told how unhappy I was, it has not been any will to look into my complaint but much more important to undermine me.

What really bugged me was the poor training the assistants had received and that nothing had changed during the year that passed between my first and my second fitting. Well except for the store interior.

Basically it is the old, "We are right, you are wrong" Well that is my opinion, I am sure the manager feels differently. Not sure how a fitting with the manager and another assistant should change anything, sub 32" bands seem to not exist on the Island (I asked in M&S, Boux avenue and two independent lingerie stores and no sub 32" bands but there of course might be some stores carrying it)

The interesting thing is also, some women started attacking me on facebook in the Maltese group before I had to delete my complaint, telling me since I know my size and I know so much about bra fitting, I should stay away from the stores. No need for me to go there and point out the stores fitting flaws. And before one complained, one should have the guts to show one's face online. Basically it is picking on the messenger and not caring about the message.

This baffles me, are women not interested in getting served and finding out their real bra sizes?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

No, You are NOT a Full-Fit or Full-Bust Bra Brand

Let's stop kidding ourselves here.  D cups are NOT massively huge. So when I see a brand describe themselves as "full-fit" or "full-bust" and they stop at DDD cups? I see red.

I've gone over this SO. MANY. TIMES. on my blog but it's worth repeating so let's look at the facts:

Yes, yes, there are lots of issues with sample bias, fit preference, and body diversity but it seems fairly safe to say that around a DD cup is average, not something monstrously huge.  Yet pretty much no mainstream retailers (and by mainstream I mean across an entire nation where you can easily pick up bras in pretty much ever mid-size city) carries above DD cups.  

Furthermore, there are some brands that have finally seen the light and realized that women do, in fact, need larger cup sizes and because of that we've started seeing more and more brands popping up with DDD or even G cups!  I guess we should all rush up and give them a giant pat on the back? Good job, you've made the world a better place, woohoo!

Comparing to plus-sizes

Now, when we're talking about clothing sizes you'd think if a brand slaps on a special name like full-fit bra or full-bust bra that we're talking about women who fit outside of the realm of "average" or at the very least you're looking at the top end of the spectrum (so going from the average and covering all the way up to the most common cup sizes). 

Let's look at how plus-size relaters handle it.  In the US the average clothing size is size 14.  Again, that means that HALF the women are wearing a 14+ and half are wearing a 14-.  Plus-sized stores in the states usually start at either a size 14 or 16 and go up somewhere in the mid-30's (depends a lot on the store itself).  That's a pretty solid size range. Will it cover everyone? No, the only way that would be possible would be if we switched back to entirely custom made clothing (and maybe that's not such a bad idea, but I digress...). But the point is, they cover a huge chunk of the plus-size population and while some women might be left out they're statistical outliers (and, again, that does NOT mean they don't deserve awesome clothes but just from a business model it's hard to find enough customers to consume the supply). 

Do full-fit/full-bust bras do the same? Many don't, especially if they are stopping somewhere between a DDD-G cup.  Rather, they're actually serving the average women right there.  It would be as if a plus-sized store stopped at a size 16 or 18 instead of going all the way up until size 38! 

Do D-G cup sizes fill a lingerie niche market? 

Niche marketing is the idea that a new brand is fulfilling some previously unfulfilled need within the marketplace.  A non-lingerie related example of that are jeans that fit women with large butts/wide hips like PZI jeans or Levi's Curve ID jeans.  In order for a new lingerie brand to be filling a niche market they'd actually need to be filling a specific need, something that's currently missing from the lingerie world. 

But the plethora of so called full-bust bra and full-fit bra brands that stop at G cups are really missing the point... the D-G cup size market (despite the lack of knowledge from the average female consumer) is actually pretty freaking good!  There are an insane number of brands that carry everything from sports bras, nursing bras, basques, baby dolls, string bikinis, and nightwear.  You can even buy tank tops with built-in bras if you'd like.  Sadly, most stores don't carry all these wonderful things but if you bother to look online that they're pretty widely available.

I still haven't forgiven Fantasie for creating this delicious basque up to only GG cups.

That being said... once you go above the H cup barrier the availability drops off significantly.  If you continue above J cups the selections is extremely limited and once you hit K+ cups, well,  you begin to feel like this... 

Sure, there are some awesome brands that cover the largest cup sizes. But once you get into the largest cup sizes you also run into the problem of more fit issues, large variations in bra sizing among brands, and the complete lack of certain styles (such as long lines, basques, sports bras etc).  Actually, the fit issues/sizing problems are so extreme that many women may fit a J-K cup in Panache, for instance, but are several cup sizes too large for Curvy Kate.  Additionally, while one might technically fit into a certain brand, one might run into so many fit issues with that specific brand rendering their bras pretty much useless to you.  What happens is that smaller fit issues/breast volume differences/texture differences are just more and more amplified the farther up in cup size you go (trust me, speaking from personal experience here). 

So you hate all small and average cup size brands?

Um... no. You've completely missed the point if that is your take away here.  I'm expressing frustration that brands are mislabeling their lingerie as full-fit bras or full-bust bras but then covering a small size range.  I'm frustrated that there's a large chunk of women who are being left out and this can lead to body image issues and physical pain.  I'm frustrated that this mislabeling perpetuates the myth that D cups are massively huge and G cups are the largest cup size that exists.

So, yes, I absolutely believe that above G cups (and to an even greater extent above J cups/above K cups) there's a huge gap in the market.  This goes across band sizes but those at the smallest end of the band sizes (30 bands and under) and those at the highest end of the band sizes (40 bands and over) are especially hard hit since so few cover those size range (I'd argue too that the 40G+ ladies have it the hardest because they don't even have the option of going up a band/cup size and doing alterations).

That being said, there are also holes in the small cup market.  Ladies with small bands/small cups (30 and under bands and D- cups) and ladies with large bands/small cups (40+ bands and B- cups) also have extremely limited selection.  In both these cases there are sadly very few bloggers out there too to point them in the direction of well-fitting bras and supportive, beautiful lingerie whereas at least in the largest cup sizes there are bloggers (like myself) that exist.  I'd also LOVE to see an expansion in this market too but I sadly can't say much about it since I'm certainly not an expert in the fit issues involved here and what exactly is needed.

I will also add that I AM excited to see new lingerie brands even when they don't cover my size range.  I understand economics plays a role here and you have to cover the average size first to make enough sales.  However, lingerie manufacturers also need to understand that the D-G cup market has expanded A LOT over the years.  Women in that size range have many more options and if they're willing to buy online they can find an enormous amount of deals.  So new manufacturers really need to bring something special and unique to the table.  Something that other brands haven't come out with first, considering that there is so much in that size range now it's not necessarily an easy feat.

If a manufacturer, though, chose to focus on some of the holes in the market like the largest cup sizes or small cup sizes on the high/low end of the band spectrum, they'd have a significantly easier time in terms of design.  Yes, fit issues play more of a role and special care needs to be taken in terms of engineering but I can tell you that so much is still needed in those size range that they'd have a number of eager customers already.

I also accept that some brands start small and then work towards expanding.  Parfait Affinitas is a great example of that (and, frankly, they were already on my radar because of they stood out due to their beautiful designs and wide range of options such as basque/babydolls in D+ cup sizes).  But they are often the exception rather the rule.  Freya, for instance, has been going at a snail's pace to expand the size range of their Deco- the best selling bra they own- which pretty much only goes up to GG cups.  Panache seems to be making no effort whatsoever to expand its size range on its sports bra- again, its best selling bra.  Claudette had hoped to expand its size range but sadly couldn't get enough stockist to carry even up to G cups, let alone larger cup sizes.

Is it discrimination? 

I keep going back and forth on this one.  It is true that many could argue that the cost/benefit to producing the largest cup sizes is too low.  That not enough women would buy them and for small companies, especially, having unsold stock laying around is extremely costly.  The time and effort putting into making these sizes is also rather cost prohibitive.

That being said, I feel like a lot of this goes back to the comparison with the plus-sized clothing brands. Could there be lessons learned there on providing well-fitting clothes on sizes that present more fit issues and might not have a smooth Gaussian when it comes to size distribution?

Lane Bryant makes stylist clothes in harder to fit/harder to find sizes- let's look at their business model.

Ok, but putting the issue of cost/benefit aside, I do feel like it's more than that.  There are some serious Curvy ASSumptions made against busty women.  Busty women are are often assumed to be more promiscuous, others assume that they are less intelligent, that they're "asking" for something by their dress, that naturally large breasts don't exist and all large breasted women must have had implants or that large breasts are only on overweight women and they take part in fat discrimination.  Could it be that manufacturers are internalizing these messages and they don't want to cater to a population that they feel would "tarnish" their image?  Could it be that they feel large breasted women, because of these assumptions, don't deserve beautiful lingerie? Could it be that they feel that large breasted women are fat (and in their heads too lazy) to need something like supportive sports wear?

I've also wondered if there is an element of racism involved too.  While there are many large breasted white women (myself included here), there's certainly a stereotype of Latin American women or women of African descent of being curvier.  It often feels like the media likes to portray white women as tall and thin, Asian women as petite and straight, Latin American women as short and curvy, and Africa women as tall, muscular, and curvy.  While some women fit into those stereotypes they are extremely naive and, frankly, downright harmful.  These stereotypes lead to the same type of problems that exoticizing a culture does and can also lead to internalized body image issues when one doesn't live up to them.

How does this play out around the world? 

I can tell you that in Brazil pretty much anything above a B cup would be considered a large cup size and it would be significantly harder to obtain and be more expensive.  As far as I know there doesn't exist ANY bras above G cups (US G cups, NOT UK ones) being sold locally.

In Europe a reader told me:

In the 34-38 A-D range you can buy €5 bras anywhere. Outside of that, usually €30 but lots of sales up to H cup. All European sizing, mind you! Outside of that... gotta shell out €70-110 per bra. If you can even find it. And the shop will fit you in anything they have.... I've learned to handle the scarcity of K cup bras... but it sure is very frustrating.
And then when you see ads for "now up to big cups!!" and get happy... then be super disappointed because that means they went from E to F cup as largest. And they added a band size so it's even bigger!  It's so sad, and does make me feel like a freak sometimes.
Because my 32KK/L size in European sizing means 70R. Which is what I say when people ask my size. Then tell them they do exist, and should be sold more! 

I can imagine in Africa and Asia similar stories could be shared (if anybody wants to throw in their two cents on this, let me know!).  I know from speaking with other readers and bloggers that Australia also seems to hit the G cup barrier (or under). 

Can large cup sizes be feasible for brands? 

Yes, yes they can.  BUT you can't just manufacture larger cup sizes and expect women to flock to them.  A few things need to happen first:

  • Education needs to go hand and hand with bra sales.  Brastop, Large Cup Lingerie, Butterfly Collection, A Sophisticated Pair, Bravissimo, and Brood's Big Bras are all examples of stores that put a lot of effort into educating their customers in proper bra fitting and that helps to make more sales.  If a women can see an improved fit with a larger cup size then they're more likely to return.  But they need to understand what to look for in bra fitting so they don't leave the store with an uncomfortable bra that they'll never wear again.  When I went to Town Shop and had my one and only fitting of my life the fitter told me that ideally she'd have an hour with every woman who comes in to discuss these things but sadly so many women rush in and out and don't get the education they need. 
  • Online presence is important. Statistically, women in larger cup sizes are just not as likely.  I get that.  However, that also means that women like me  in the largest cup sizes turn to the internet to get well-fitting lingerie.  A big reason that brands like Ewa Michalak and Comexim have become huge internationally is because of bloggers like myself who tried them and spread the word.  Moreover, putting up preview pictures on your facebook page/twitter/website help and LISTENING to customer feedback (especially regarding fit issues) can help enormously.  In that sense I have to give props to both  Curvy Kate and Tutti Rouge who have worked on fixing fit issues over the years due to customer feedback. 
  • Cost distribution needs to be considered.   I get that larger cup sizes can be more expensive to manufacture.  It could be that fit models are harder to find.  It could be that wires that fit the right shape are harder to buy and it could be that dealing with fit issues takes more time/effort.  I get that.  That being said, charging more for the larger sizes is, well, discrimination.  It is also a deterrent for women in the larger sizes to buy multiple bras. What I'd suggest is that the costs are spread out more across the cup sizes.  For instance, instead of charging $40 for D-G cups and $50 for G-K cups why not charge something like $42 for D-K (remember that the D-G cups will sell more so it will compensate quicker for the larger cup sizes).   Moreover, the more bras you sell in the larger cup sizes the cheaper production costs will become over time (as in fit issues should, in principle, diminish once the styles are figured out and possibly deals with wire manufacturers could be made with a large enough demand). 

Should we do away with labels?

Should we stop calling brands names like "petite" or "full-bust" or "regular sizes".  Again, I have mixed feelings here.  Are the labels themselves problematic? In some sense yes.  They serve to marginalize a population of people, they limit one's options in terms of fashion self-expression and if someone is fit into a label that they don't self-identify with it can create body image issues (take, for example, a 32D women who feels she has an average sized bust but then is bumped into a "full-bust" by so many brand labels).  In the Jezebel article linked above the author points out that when comparing plus-sized to regular size we'd do a hell of a lot better if we did away with such labels and just designed for body shape instead.  THAT I could whole-heartily agree with.  But it still runs into the issue of what size range would small labels start producing initially?  Wouldn't there still be plus-sized clothing discrimination simply due to cost/benefit analysis?

Another issue that bothers me and I'm not sure how to resolve is ease of search.  If I want to google bras for myself I know that just googling "lingerie" won't do many any good since I'll well outside of the average size range.  I would need to google "full-bust bras" but even that won't help since the majority of full-bust lingerie brands stop at G cups, so at the moment I don't have a good keyword to put into to find lingerie in my size. Ditto goes for being able to pop into a Lane Bryant when you're plus-sized to find clothes, rather than scouring racks of clothes at Forever 21.  Labels can be harmful but they can also be helpful in self-identification and find others who share your same issues.

What I'd rather suggest is getting the labels correct. Call D-G cups Average cup sizes or straight cup sizes or maybe we should just go with a nonsensical term like purple-hairy-grasshopper sizes? Using the term "full-fit" or "full-bust" is extremely deceiving.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Kris Line Selena Review in 34JJ

Poland seems to be THE place to buy gorgeous lingerie for full busts. One brand that's been sold in Europe and the states for awhile, but can be difficult to get your paws on is Kris Line.  Recently, the selection over at Brastop has expanded quite a bit and Zulily has also started carrying them too.   During a recent sale at Zulily I picked up a gray Kris Line Selena in 32JJ.  Sadly, it was way too small in the cup but I also got to try The Full Figured Chest's  Selena in 34JJ so this is  a mix between a real review and a mini-review because I can tell you more about the product's quality. :)

Kris Line Selena 
Kris line has a huge size range that covers both small busts and large busts and everything in between.  Often their bras have slightly different designs in the smaller cup sizes versus the large cup sizes.  I also wonder how different the fit designs are in smaller cup sizes.  The Lingerie Lesbian really enjoyed her bodysuit in a B cup, which indicates that their bras probably work well both for large busts and small busts alike.  She did mention that the cups were heavily padded but I also found the Selena's cups to have quite a bit of padding too (although it was removable) so I don't think that is something that happens in just the small cup sizes. Kris Line also carries swimwear, bodysuits, and nursing bras.  I have yet to seem them sold internationally, though.


The 34JJ appeared to be about one cup size too small, which means I would have needed a 34K or better yet a 32KK if that were possible.  That being said, I could tell even in the too small cup size that the fit was really amazing!  The Kris line Selena had narrow wires, deep cups and loads of depth up front by the center gore, which is something desperately needed in the largest cup sizes!

The bra itself fits different than almost all my other bras.  It's fairly full coverage but gives a shape and projection fairly similar to most Ewa Michalak bras.  The cups themselves curve around the breasts, which provides extra security.  Because of this I think this would be an AMAZING bra for women with soft, bottom heavy breasts.  It has enough structure to give softer breasts a good shape and the upper shape would keep your breasts secure throughout the day.

It turns out that the cups also have removable pads.  I tried on my own 32JJ version and without the removable pads it's only about one cup size too small.  That means my usual Ewa Michalak/Curvy Kate size would work in 32K without the pads but with the pads I'd definitely need a 32KK. The band seems to be a true 32 band and was very comfortable.


This is SUCH a pretty bra.  I love gray and I'm thrilled that Kris Line carries a number of bras in more gender neutral colors (I promise you, I don't need EVERYTHING in pink and purple... but I still love purple, don't get me wrong) like green and gray.  In a too small size the cups end up looking pointed but when I tried on The Full Figured Chest's  Kris Line Selena in one cup size up I had a more rounded shape.  Moreover, removing the pads gives a much more pointed shape with more depth in the front.  The pads round out the breasts more.  I really wish I had the bra in the correct size to show the difference but you'll just have to trust me on this one.

The center gore is relatively narrow, which again, means the breasts are upfront and not pushed to the sides like many British brands like to do.  The quality is spectacular and I have a feeling this is a bra that could hold up underneath a lot of wear.

The details are just spectacular too.  Look at the embroidery on the straps! The detailing on the cups!  It kills me that the one I have is too small. :( 

General Comments

  • Recall that this is a mini review and the bra that I do have from Kris Line is too small for me to wear and try with breastfeeding.  
  • For other Kris Line Selena reviews see: The Full Figured Chest, Bras and Body Image
  • Kris Line has recently extended their size range up to KK and L cups.  Sadly this is only in a handful of bras (all in either black or white).
  • As you can see there are four rows or hooks, which is great for lots and lots of wear. 
  • Please, more places carry Kris Line! I want more options!
  • I'm still deciding if I should sell this or not or hope that I'll eventually go down in cup size again. 
  • This post was written with a very cute and very rambunctious baby climbing all over me (who should be napping, mind you), so please forgive all the typos. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Trashy Diva Jenny Dress in size 12 Mini-Review

I was absolutely thrilled to try on all of The Full Figured Chest's massive Trashy Diva collection.  My hands down favorite on my body type is the Trashy Diva Jenny dress featured in this mini-review.

Trashy Diva Jenny dress

Looking at the Trashy Diva website, it looks like the Jenny dress is currently being sold in olive green in both a long sleeved and short sleeved version.  In this mini-review I tried the long-sleeved version in burgundy.

Trashy Diva is a vintage inspired clothing company that is well-known for its retro dresses that work well on large busted, curvy women.  Often times their dresses have flared skirts, which means that they can work on all hip shapes and sizes.  Other big breasted bloggers have had tons of success with Trashy Diva so I was thrilled to be able to try them out on my own large bust!


Of the Trashy Diva dresses that I tried, this was the only one in size 12 (the rest were all size 14) and the 12 was a great fit, so I'd definitely suggest sizing down from your usual Trashy Diva size in the Jenny.  There is a zipper on this dress but the material is quit stretchy so I was able to pull it on and off without unzipping the dress (I did try out the zipper once and it was pretty fiddly so I'd suggest avoiding it completely).

One interesting fit item that both the Full Figured Chest and I noticed, is that the Jenny dress worked really well on my long torso because of my lower placed breasts.  She mentioned that while she loved the Jenny dress, she often ran into issues with how deep the v-neck was whereas for me it showed just a hint of cleavage but not too much.

The only alteration that I would consider performing here is bringing in the armholes on the sleeves.  You can see in the side view below that they are quite large and they pull forward due to my big bust.  It would be nice to see smaller armholes, which would give the dress a better appearance overall.

In the photos below I'm wearing no shapewear, just had a massive dinner,  and I have on my Ewa Michalak 32K PL Stalowka.


The Trashy Diva Jenny dress is one that I probably would not have tried on my own.  Not because I dislike the style, but I would have shied away from the puffy sleeves due to having broad shoulders and a large bust.  That being said, I really liked this dress on and I don't think the pictures even due justice.  When I put on my dress, my husband commented "now THAT is a dress!" and normally he couldn't care less what I wear.  It really looked amazing.

The deep v-neck on the Trashy Diva Jenny dress works well combined with the longer sleeves and full-coverage top section.  Moreover, I feel like this is a good look on a long (or rounded) torso because it's fitted from the underbust down to about the belly button and flares out around the high-hip.  By doing so, it elongates the torso and somehow de-emphasizes my rounded stomach.  At the same time, the deep v-neck draws the eyes upward and pulls the dress together well.

General Comments

  • The Full Figured Chest's original review can be found here.  She also has an overview of what Trashy Diva dresses work on large busts here
  • Recall that this is a mini review so I do not own the item of clothing and can't comment on wear over time, how well it works for breastfeeding, price point etc.  However, I can guess from the pictures and the stretchy material that I would most likely be able to breastfeed easily in this dress. 
  • Of all the Trashy Diva dresses that I tried this one I'd be the most likely to buy.  However, I'd probably go for the short-sleeved version living in Brazil and all. 
  • I found the materials to be very soft and the fabric itself is relatively thick so it seems like it would work best in spring/fall or combined with heavy stockings for winter.  
  • Other reviews can be found here: Hourglassy, SweetNothings NYC, Pinup Persuasion, An Ode to Reverie

Friday, February 28, 2014

Panache Sport Bra in 34H Mini Review

I've wanted to try the Panache Sports bra for a LONG time now.  I've always heard awesome reviews about how great it reduces bounce on large busts but the one thing holding me back was that it's a moulded cup bra and I've heard that it tends to favor full-on-top breasts.  Thankfully, during my closet raiding session with The Full-Figured Chest, I got to try hers on and so here is my mini-review of it! I'm always on the lookout for a new sports bra that will reduce the bounce on my big breasts.

Panache Sports bra in gray

The Panache sports bra is a bra sized sports bra that comes in 28-40 back sizes and B-H cups (although not all cup sizes are available in all band sizes). Panache as a brand works on creating support lingerie for large breasted women and their sports bras focus on reducing bounce during workouts.   The Panache sports bra has a racerback option and has an underwire.  Panache won the UK sports bra band of the year in both 2012 and 2013 for the UK Lingerie Awards. The bra itself has encapsulation cups, not compression cups.


I've heard that the Panache sports bra runs large in the cup, and, thankfully, that turned out to be the case because the 34H was a perfect fit (from my best guess I would need normally a 32J in Panache).  The 34 band felt pretty comfortable at the time too.  I really can't say much here because the fit was spot on and the sports bra felt incredibly comfortable!  I often find in Panache bras that I need to size down in cups quite a bit compared to other brands (for instance, I wear a 32K in Curvy Kate and Ewa Michalak).


I think the pictures speak for themselves, this bra gives an amazing shape!  As much as I love my Freya Active sport bras, I have to say that the shape from the Panache Sports bra is superior. I get a great rounded shape from the side and this is really probably one of the best T-shirt type bras I've seen.  I'm seriously tempted to buy one just to wear underneath shirts!  Because of the high-cut on it, I'd never have to worry about quadraboob or my breasts leaking out during the day with movement.


As great as the fit, feel, and shape of the Panache sports bra were, I didn't feel quite as secure as in my Freya Active sport bras. Granted, it could be due to the 34 band over my usual 32 band.   I think one issue too was that The Full-Figured Chest said she normally leaves the straps as long as possible and then turns it into a racerback.  Since I was just trying it on for a minute, I didn't try out the racerback option, which might have helped me to feel more bounce-proof in the Panache sports bra. I'm not saying that I was bouncing around like crazy, though! Just that I didn't feel as secure as I expected.

That being said, the padding around the underwires was great and that really increased the comfort level, so I think with the racerback option, this might be a great sports bra!  I feel like the Panache sports bra would do better if you need a sports bra for the entire day.  I find Freya Active bras work best for just a short period of time and thanks to the padded underwires, the Panache sports bra would hold up a lot longer!

General Comments