Seeing the Cups as Half-Full, not Half-Empty

Sep 8, 2010

I am a woman of minimal assets, and I’m not talking about my government-salaried bank account.  God blessed me with many gifts, but breasts weren’t one of them.  I suppose he didn’t want me to be spoiled.

Like most small-chested women, I spent my teenage years in padded bras feeling demoralized by my lack of cleavage and my fakery.  Don’t even get me started on the things I had to do to compete in pageants; cutlets, stuffing and duct tape, oh my!  But short of paying a cosmetic surgeon thousands of dollars to insert gelatinous silicone orbs into my body, there isn’t much I can do about what God and genetics gave me. 

I’ve made peace with my less than ample gifts.  I no longer feel that I lack something as a woman because my cups would be charitably described as half-full.  And why should I?  Because Hugh Hefner and his legion of mammiferous ingénues set a sexual attractiveness standard that almost no one can live up to? I think not.

Recently, I’ve noticed that more newspapers, magazines and blogs extolling the virtues of the less gifted.  Maxim even named Olivia Wilde number one on their Hot 100, and her cups don’t exactly runneth over.  Is it possible that the mainstream media might finally be acknowledging that sex appeal isn’t directly proportional to cup size? 

Last week, The New York Times featured an interesting article which argued that small breasts are actually in vogue.  The writer stated, “In recent years, as people’s weight has ballooned, breasts (mostly made up of fat) have only gotten larger, and commensurately bra cup sizes, too. K-cups now exist. Brandishing a tiny bosom may be a reaction to that trend.”

The article also featured a cadre lingerie designers and retailers who are diving into the shallow end of the market.  These include Lula Lu, Lailides and Eve’s Apples who specialize in selling sultry lingerie to the smaller-chested.  And I, for one, am deeply grateful.

If you’re on their smaller-chested end of the scale, and haven’t yet come to love your body, here’s how to start.  First off, buy a sexy, unpadded lingerie set like this one and wear it out on a Saturday night.  If you’re really daring, wear it under a low-cut tank top so that the sheer fabric just peeks out over the top. 

Second, stop doubting every man (or woman if that’s your thing) who tells you that you’re sexy.  Men like women be they large-breasted or flat-chested, men just like women.  So the next time a well-meaning boyfriend, husband or one night stand tells you that you’re hot don’t reply that you wish your breasts were bigger.  Try believing him instead.

Third, rejoice in all the fashion styles that you can wear that those women with more ample gifts cannot.  Strapless dresses without tug and pull.  Halter tops look pretty instead of over-the-top.  And the deep-V neck dress can only be worn by B-cups and smaller

And remember, your breasts aren’t small, they’re gravity defying.  While the big breasted girls will have to lift their tits out of their shoes once they hit retirement age, yours will happily stay in place until you close your eyes for good. 

No matter your bra size, the key to looking great and feeling sexy is a bra that fits.  Four out of five women are wearing the wrong size bra, do not be one of them.  For measurement tips for smaller busts visit Lula Lu’s bra fitting web guide.  And if you require a professional intervention, Valerie at Coup de Foudre will dedicate 30-minutes of her time to making sure that your girls look their level best no matter what size they are.

Being proud of your body when society tells you that you’re lacking isn’t easy, but it can be done.  We should all be more willing to believe that we are sexy and beautiful just as we are.  So while my cleavage may not be good enough for Hef and his smoking jacket clad cronies, I love them. And confidence is sexier than any surgical enhancement that I can buy.


share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. big busted says:

    Why is it that when small busted girls champion their shape they have to put down big breasts? Is everything in life about putting girls into categories where we compete with each other? Big breasts come with their own range of issues (guys automatically assuming I'm slutty, swimsuit nightmares, finding professional attire without the dreaded gaping shirt) and I'd rather not add to that someone mockingly tell me I'm going to sag one day. This post was very offputting. Please celebrate your shape without putting down others.

  2. overly blessed says:

    I have to agree with “big busted.” I've always been jealous of girls with smaller busts because you can wear all of the cute styles Belle described in the post; also, have you ever tried to buy a 32DDD bra that looks sexy and not like something your great-aunt Bessie would wear? More than one bra fitting has left me disappointed and tearful.

  3. N says:

    As a 34E I also have to chime in about the difficulties of finding clothing and lingerie with a big bust. I didn't buy a single bathing suit this season because after four days of five hour shopping trips I couldn't find a single top that fit properly, and finding a bra that fits takes months. I haven't bought a cute bra since I was a 34C my freshman year of high school. Ordering anything online isn't an option when I'm so out of proportion that I don't even fall clearly into a simple t-shirt size. And I won't even get into the additional medical problems of the big-breasted.

    Every woman has different problems with her figure. Can we focus on how to work around all of them instead of lamenting about one at the expense of another?

  4. Megan says:

    I wanted to add my voice as a religious reader of this blog and a 36D who found this post to be beneath you, Belle. You're always telling us to celebrate our bodies as they are, and then you go and mock us for something that's largely beyond our control. I wear a bra around the clock and do daily toning exercises to fight the inevitable sag – and I know in the end that it'll happen anyway. As such, it's awfully discouraging to be turned into a punching bag so that smaller women can feel better about themselves. I expected better of you.

  5. Elle says:

    We all have issues with our bodies.

    I like when Belle talks about hers because I can take her hilarious nature and turn it on myself, lightening the load of how serious we can take ourselves sometimes.

    This post is about the stereotype of “large breated women = awesome” and how it oversimplifies a part of all women that we take very personally. I think all of you above can agree with that message.

  6. 32F says:

    As someone who is a 32F, I would have to agree with the other comments. I have spent so many years crying in dressing rooms after trying on bras or bathing suits and had to stay away from so many shirts and dresses that I've fallen in love with because they make me look like a hooker or a matron. The time and money I have spent looking for a bra that fits, let alone one with that could be sexy and was made of lace is outrageous. It took a long time before I could come to accept my body. I am a devoted reader of this blog and look forward to every post, but this one just made me depressed. I was reminded that I can't wear certain styles, can't wear sexy or even cute lingerie and that someday my breasts will touch my belly button, all so you could feel better. This was not a half full post at all, instead it was completely empty.

  7. big busted says:

    Elle- I disagree. This post was basically, small boobs rule, big boobs suck. Why not just say, boobs rule! I like my small ones and here's why? Women, particularly women in politics, need to stop tearing each other down. Remember that scene in Mean Girls where Tina Fey tells the girls to stop calling each other bitches and sluts because it only makes it okay for guys to do it? How about let's stop snarking each other's bodies, because we ALL hate when guys do that.

  8. Belle says:

    First off, let me say that I'm sorry if anyone was offended that was not my intention. My sense of humor doesn't always translate well in print.

    Second, please understand that this is a blog written from the perspective of the author who is small chested. So I know precious little about how to buy clothes, find bras, etc for the larger chested. There are plenty of blogs who cover this subject in depth,

    If someone sends in an Ask Belle wanting more info on petite sizes, sports bras for larger chested women, etc. I'm happy to help when I can, but as I am not petite or large chested, these will not be a regular feature on this site.

    Last, I do talk about accepting our bodies a lot, but every time I write a post about my body issues, I get slammed. It's like I'm not allowed to be insecure because I have small breasts, or because I'm a size 4 with love handles, or whatever the case happens to be. I know we all have issues with our bodies, and we're all trying to overcome them, but why do mine always seem to be singled out as less important or less serious?

    Again, I did not intend to make anyone feel bad about themselves. I'm sure there are many downsides to being bigger on top, as my college roommate used to say, “They're heavy and I get tired of dragging them around.” But I don't have any first hand perspective on that like I do on being made fun of my whole life for being flat chested.

  9. Megan says:

    Belle, our primary point, which I don't think any of us explicitly stated, was that the following comment was both tasteless and hurtful: “While the big breasted girls will have to lift their tits out of their shoes once they hit retirement age.”

    …We understand that you can't necessarily offer us any first-hand advice on this issue – my issue was with that single and completely unnecessary sentence.

    That said, thank you for all that you do. 🙂

  10. big busted says:

    Agree with Megan. My sis is small chested and I think we all have the right to complain about things we don't love about our bodies or try to celebrate the things we do love. My issue was/is with the idea that in order to celebrate something we must disparage something else. It is the difference between saying, “I don't need big boobs to feel sexy,” and “small boobs are sexier/better than big boobs.”

  11. Maggie says:

    Belle, I'm a religious reader and am appalled. Previously, your little quips about how the small chested girls should be happy because their boobs won't sag haven't bothered me. I tend to look at the bright side in all things, and so be it if that's your silver lining. I would give a lot to naturally have a “normal” sized chest, but that's not what God gave me, and so I deal with it. You're right that stereotypes make things worse, but we all have our insecurities. I'm tall, a healthy size 12, 36DDD, and you had better believe that I, too, have a hard time believing my boyfriend when he says “you're hot”.

    I agree with 32F – glass is empty on this one, Belle.

  12. X says:

    Hahah… this stuff cracks me up! I am a size 4, 32DDD wearing girl and I was not offended at all by anything in your post. Why? Because for one, it's true (I'm already saving for my lift ha ha!)… and two, it's YOUR OPINION! That's why we all read this blog right??

    Belle, I completely understood your post and truly appreciate it. It highlights feelings all girls/women go through… It reminds the reader that everyone feels like “the grass is always greener.” Big busted girls want to be small, small girls what to be big, etc. My takeaway from this post, which I believe is your intended message, is… GET OVER IT and BE HAPPY!

    And please, all the other big busted women who think this is a stab directly into our attention grabbing chests, don't flatter yourself! And I'd suggest setting up your lift savings account too!

  13. dm58 says:

    Goodness! Aren't we a bit too sensitive today? I am a 34DDD and found this hilarious. Belle's signature is biting quips at the “expense” of anyone . . . that's why I love this blog. She was combating a playboy/maxim driven stereotype and promoting ALL women to happily embrace their shape!
    It is true that I will have to carry my “girls” in a few years . . . okay, next month when I hit 30! . . . and yes, I DO risk bruising my chin when I run! Yet, it is also true that I look way better in some clothes than Belle will ever look because I have more cleavage (and vice versa). Negatives exist on both ends of the spectrum and her post is about meeting them head on and conquering them for your own benefit.

    Belle – two thumbs up. I understand the tone of your post and enjoyed it and its message.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I'm relatively flat chested myself–a quite small B. Sometimes I wish they were bigger, but generally I'm too concerned with the size of my ass to worry about the size of my chest. So, a few things:
    1) The NY article was poorly researched–see the Slate article refuting it.
    2) If you think little boobs will never sag, I assume you aren't planning on children, because pregnancy alone, not to mention breastfeeding, will make your chest sag. And when A cups reaaallly sag, it looks much worse than D cups, I think anyway. Just opinion of course.

  15. p says:

    As a well-endowed woman I obviously took issue with this post and agree with many of the other comments that this negativity towards bigger boobs is not only misplaced, but offensive to a large portion of the CHS readership.

    But the bigger issue I have with this post is on behalf of all women. By rejoicing in the acceptance of the media, the post gives credence to the importance of mainstream acceptance while at the same time encouraging women to find their own confidence. But how can women build confidence when it is constantly reinforced that they need widespread approval? Shouldn't the point really be that in terms of physical traits it doesn't matter what is “in vogue”? There are stylish women in all cup sizes who will continue to be flat chested or big boobed no matter what the trend is. Since when does the New York Times need to sanction my breast size–no matter what it is–as acceptably stylish?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Wow, people. I really don't see anything wrong with pointing out that big boobs sag faster (although I agree with the above comment on pregnancy and breastfeeding). I also wouldn't see anything wrong with big-busted girl saying “Gee, my chest looks awful in this halter top, but hey, at least most guys prefer a large chest to a small chest”–which is true BTW, whether we like it or not. Just like most guys prefer thin to fat. And pretty to mediocre. They are programmed to like larger chests–although obviously this does not mean guys think the bigger the better. There are limits.

    I say this as a small-chested girl who understands reality and regardless, DH thinks I am hot. Even if he thinks there is more than one way to be hot.

  17. Belle says:

    dm58–It's true there are a great many clothing styles that will look better on you. I will never, ever be able to pull of the loose sweater look without looking like a boy and I will never be able to wear a multi-button jacket. To each their own.

    Anonymous-No, I wasn't planning on children. I don't date, so finding a father would be a challenge.

    P-I wasn't saying the NYT needs to sanction something for it to be stylish, but it is nice, for a change to hear anyone talking about liking small breasts. IT seems like I have spent decades reading articles about gel filled bras, chicken cutlets and bras to give you more cleavage, so it's nice to see more blogs and media talking about the virtues of being the size you are.

    Anon2?- Yes, most men like bigger breasts. Just like most women like a chiseled physique, but not every guy has one. As long as a man thinks I'm sexy, I'm happy.

  18. Stephanie says:

    If you know that your sense of humor sometimes doesn't translate well in print, perhaps you should think about the implications of what you write in your blog posts. Besides, mocking body types that are different from yours is in no way funny or constructive. If you love your small boobs, that's great. But please, build yourself up without tearing others down. This is just as bad as people saying “real women have curves,” thus implying that women with other body types aren't, in fact, real women. Women come in all different shapes and sizes, and that shouldn't be used against any of us.

  19. Lola says:

    I'm so tired of people feeling as if they have the right to judge and make fun of the shape of others, as if they have a choice as to how they're put together. None of us get to choose our genetic code. You get what you get, and we have to make do with what we're given. It certainly doesn't help when women turn on each other and make disparaging comments over something no one has control over. This is not championing womankind or helping each other to accept our bodies.

    I'm a big fan of this blog, and enjoy the occasional quip over much-hated fashion trends. But when the biting comments extend to judgments about other people's physical attributes in an attempt to make insecure women feel better about themselves, it's no longer funny. It's junior-high at best and hateful at worst. Also? I don't care if the NY Times feels that small breasts are en vogue right now. The size of my breasts can't change based on the current trend, just like my height and nose shape can't morph at will. Let's work on accepting ourselves as is, without pointing out the flaws in others.

  20. As a flat flat FLAT chested woman, it seems like everybody is having a hard time walking on the other woman's stilettos. There are ups and downs to both sides and neither has a monopoly on whining about it. Large breasted women don't know what it's like to look like a boy and have sad, empty bagginess on clothing where there should be boobs (the main reason I sew). Small breasted women don't know what it's like to have to try to cover them up in an office without looking matronly. Can't we all just get along?

    Seriously, the best part about getting older has been not only accepting but coming to embrace my flat chest. It was not easy.

  21. C says:

    To Stephanie, and probably quite a lot others – surely you read this blog because of Belle's style and humour? I would imagine that there are a lot more offensive things floating round the internet than arguing big vs small breasts! Just take this post with a pinch of salt, and thank god for Belle's ten commandments!

  22. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the unsolicited advice, C, but when people say or do things that are offensive, I call them on it–no matter how much I like them. Belle needs to realize that she could've written a useful, witty post on having small breasts without offending women who have larger breasts. Her words in this post were out of line. End of story.

  23. Tia says:

    Stephanie, I've read the comments that you leave on this site and I doubt that you like Belle. I also don't know why you continue to read this blog since you seem offended by almost every post.

    Belle, I think the comment about gravity was out of line, but the rest of the post was great. I just wish you had 36D breasts like I do so that I could laugh at a rant about that. I think a lot of these readers who are big chested wouldn't have been offended had you been calling out smaller busted girls and celebrating a curvier figure.

    You can't please them all.

  24. GingerR says:

    I hear you!

    I always think of the book by Norman MacClean – “Young Men and Fire” where the main character, a Montana boy, notes that a girlfriend with small breasts is better because they won't get in the way of her carrying her pack in the backwoods and she'll be a happier camper.

  25. frizz says:

    Ginger – an astute observation of Mr. McLean. But aside from that, there is a lot of sensitivity here about “the girls”. Bodacious or understated, natural or surgically enahnced it would appear that they still at least to some degree define us. As I am minus mine due to double mastectoomy at age 28 I can honestly say, be grateful, treat them with consideration but get over it. Great Post Belle.

  26. J says:

    I flinched at the use of “t**s*. Unnecessarily crass for a generally classy blog and a word that's cringe-inducing when guys use it (at least to me), so I think women also shouldn't use it. My opinion, anyway.

  27. Belle says:

    J- I wouldn't usually use it, it's a quote from Sex in the City (HBO not movie). I guess I should have made that more clear.

  28. Stephanie says:

    Tia, I don't have enough free time to spend any of it reading the blog of someone I dislike. I leave constructive criticism when I feel it's merited, but I also praise the posts I love–and there are many. If you find my comments so offensive, just skip them.

    What offended me about the post was that she praised one group of women by putting another group down. I don't care what the groups are–big boobs vs. small boobs, left-handed vs. right-handed, Democrats vs. Republicans–the point is that people shouldn't resort to putting down others who differ from them in some way in order to make themselves feel better.

  29. lorrwill says:

    Wow. I saw nothing offensive in the post at all. I am going to have to read it again to see what the problem is. (scratching head in confusion).

  30. Sandraf says:

    Try for beautiful lingerie in larger cup and plus sizes.
    Gorgeous bras up to size 52 and cup size K, matching briefs, slimming shapewear and stunning tights.

Join The List

Stay up to date on the latest from Capitol Hill Style!


Too Many Tabs: April 19, 2024

This week, I fell mindlessly into my phone more than I think I ever have. My screen time went from 3.5 hours per day to 5 hours per day. But the increased eye strain did lead to some good finds. Just going to leave this right here.  (I really need to work on “Didn’t make […]



Recent Posts

The Find: My Best Workout Shorts

For eight years, I have worn the same workout shorts. Every year, an influencer tries to sell me new shorts. I order them. I try them on. They pale in comparison to the shorts I already own. I return them.



My Secret Fashion Weapons, Pt. I

Have a big day ahead? Major hearing? Big trial? The presentation of your life? Gonna be at a conference with that ex? Whatever it happens to be, these are the fashion weapons that get me to the confidence level that I need to be at.




Features, Too Many Tabs, Top Posts | April 19, 2024

Too Many Tabs: April 19, 2024

This week, I fell mindlessly into my phone more than I think I ever have. My screen time went from 3.5 hours per day to 5 hours per day. But the increased eye strain did lead to some good finds. Just going to leave this right here.  (I really need to work on “Didn’t make […]



Fantastic Finds, Posts, Style | April 19, 2024

The Find: My Best Workout Shorts

For eight years, I have worn the same workout shorts. Every year, an influencer tries to sell me new shorts. I order them. I try them on. They pale in comparison to the shorts I already own. I return them.



Style, Top Posts, Work | April 18, 2024

My Secret Fashion Weapons, Pt. I

Have a big day ahead? Major hearing? Big trial? The presentation of your life? Gonna be at a conference with that ex? Whatever it happens to be, these are the fashion weapons that get me to the confidence level that I need to be at.



Features, Posts, The Range | April 18, 2024

The Find: A Striped Tee

Without question, the most worn item in my wardrobe is a black-and-white striped tee. I wear it in winter under sweaters, in spring with white jeans, in summer with black shorts. I’ve been wearing the same one for years (it’s the best). But they don’t make it anymore. So here are some options for replacement.