The Vagenda

How I Made Peace With My ‘Almost-Boobs’ – Despite What Everyone Else Thought


I don’t remember the first time my breasts, or lack thereof, really entered my consciousness – though I do recall placing two rather large grapefruits inside my top, age eight, and showing off my newly acquired assets to my grandmother.  After laughing for what seemed like an hour she told me to stop being ridiculous; I said that I wanted boobs like those, and she said that they would come in time. Satisfied with this answer, I returned the citrus fruits to the fruit bowl and carried on with an eight year old’s proper business: furiously colouring, and lazily pondering the meaning of life.

Some years passed and I got my period – the gateway, I assumed to instant boobs. I firmly believed that once the hormones began coursing through my ovaries, bringing torture in their wake, they would also throw in a little extra by way of a fuller bust – a consolation prize, if you will. But, dear readers, here’s the catch: I’ve recently turned 21 and my 32A bust has been a constant presence on my otherwise changing body. It may be time to throw in the (sanitary) towel.

With my period began a, er, period of serious anxiety regarding my flat chest, and the perceived unattractiveness I experienced as a result of it (and, in my darker days, still do). Looking back on my teenage years, I don’t remember small-busted celebrities in teen magazines being touted as gorgeous or sexy – they were always referred to as waifish or boyish, perhaps athletic, but never really beautiful. If you’re 5’8” by the age of 16 and pretty skinny, that lying bastard media never told me you’re likely not going to sprout double Ds overnight. Throughout puberty, all I heard was a chorus of, ‘It’ll happen’ or, worse still, ‘They’ll get bigger when you have a baby.’ Seriously.

I was 14 – so, in the full throes of non-boob-growing puberty – when a friend and I went shopping for a birthday card for one of our friends. Standing in the card aisle and mindlessly browsing the glitter-covered creations, I picked up one at random. It was clearly supposed to be addressed to a male, though whether it was a birthday or a ‘get well’ or just a regular old ‘have fun in the patriarchy’ card escapes me, and on it were a list of letters A to F. A to F corresponded with illustrations of bra-covered cartoon breasts, because of course they did. And what stuck with me was that A, my cup size, stood for ‘almost’. Seven years later and those few seconds of looking at the alphabetical breakdown of women’s worth is firmly etched on my brain. I now view that aforementioned ‘almost’ as some kind of Beckettian lack and thus my strive towards anything else, any other cup size, will forever be futile – ever tried, ever failed, you know?

And then there’s the street harassment unique to itty bitty titties. One balmy summer evening of late, I put on a treasured Celia Birtwell dress with a deep V-neck and a high hemline – why the hell not? Feeling like a boho princess, I rushed down to The Globe for a performance of Much Ado About Nothing coz I’m cultural like that, thinking that I looked pretty damn great. Running down the London Bridge stairs, I squeezed past some guys in their mid-twenties making their way up, courteously smiling for giving me way. A few steps after, I heard one of them say, ‘The trouble with birds like that is they’re all leg and no tits.’

I had no time to stop and process but it had already put a dampener on my evening. Once again, I was confronted by my ‘lack’; despite all my other ‘desirable’ assets, my flat chest rendered my body ‘trouble’. The rest of the evening was spent in a state of self-consciousness; I fidgeted with my neckline so no one would have to see my bony chest, like some kind of reincarnation of Medusa, but mostly I just wanted to go home.

Body perfection is possibly the most dangerous myth fed to women, and God knows it starts at a young enough age. We are always ‘almost’, but never quite perfect enough. We are taught to focus on our perceived lack, instead of celebrating what is already present. As a result, our bodies spend years being criminally under-appreciated, helped along by reminders from cheesy birthday cards and men with very little depth.

But this story has a happy ending. I’ve made peace with my chest size, the way it complements my body, and what I look like in the mirror. In fact, I now find it downright irritating that high street lingerie manufacturers seem to insist all their A-cup bras have to be air-padded neon strap-on chest devices with more padding than your average Argos sofa. I’m finally okay with my breasts and want to represent them accordingly: small and lovely 32As. I want delicate lace and a selection of fastenings and styles. I promise it’s possible to make a bra for small breasts without stuffing it full of gel and air and silicone. It just takes a little more thought. All girls deserve great bras, not just the ones who fall at the perfect C-cup midpoint.

And meanwhile, for all well-wishers who might have thought they were being cute when I complained about my breasts, I’d like to throw out some advice. Please use no variation of any of these (all experienced):

‘It will happen, just you wait!’

‘They’ll get bigger when you have a baby!’

‘As long as he gets a handful!’

’You can always get a boob job!’ (Yeah, really.)

The truth is, big boobs don’t make the world go around any more than teensy ones do. But confident women sure as hell can.


25 thoughts on “How I Made Peace With My ‘Almost-Boobs’ – Despite What Everyone Else Thought

  1. Aw, I can so relate to this! I became obsessed with growing boobs after reading ‘Are You There God? It’s me Margaret’ at age 11. I did the exercises and everything, but I’m still waiting for them to kick in 16 years later!
    It was really hard being so flat chested, I used to panic everytime I kissed a boy, thinking that he would be horrified by my lack of chest! Thankfully, I learned to accept my small boobs, but I have to say, I am looking forward to the promised growth during pregnancy! x

  2. I love this article. I think to me, it really proves that the grass is greener – and the media is to blame! I have DD boobs and all I think when I read magazines, look at celebrities or watch sodding Game of Thrones is that my big boobs are not attractive, that they’ll never look good in fashion (‘Chanel tits’ these are not) and that if I were to wear a low cut dress the likes of which smaller-boobed celebrities carry off, I’d be met with looks of horror. The double standards are ridiculous.

    Your mention of the perfect C cup really seems to ring true – that’s all the media is interested in, and it’s damaging to women on either side of the spectrum. I’m sorry that such ignorant birthday cards and stupid remarks like that still exist. I’m just hopeful that with articles like this and the feminist movement in full swing, the next generation will never have to face this kind of scrutiny. But for now – tits galore! Let’s show the world some diversity – and that we’re much more than a cup size.

  3. My boobs never came in either, but I don’t have any really recollection of being too upset about it as a teenager, I’ve just generally always felt a little sad they weren’t bigger. I completely agree with you, it’s something we’re made to worry about and something we’re not supposed to be happy about unless we’re the ‘perfect c’. The thing is, I AM a C cup! Except I’m a 28C, which in cup size terms is the same as a 30B or a 32A. Just that my back is really small. Many people just don’t understand this!

    I came to terms with my small size two ways:
    1 My fiance adores my boobs, which is pretty handy (pun intended).
    2. I recently took up running and fitness, and I am so blessed that they don’t get in the way, and I can buy off the rack sports bras in XS and know that they will fit without trying them on. I can forget about my boobs when I exercise, and I know that is a privilege many women do not have.

    It’s taken me a long time, and I still get frustrated when I try on a dress in my size and it gapes massively at the front, but I remind myself that I do not have to worry about my breasts (unless it’s breast health, of course!) and bigger boobed ladies have other problems with finding dresses that fit. Happy, healthy boobs of all sizes for all!

  4. Your body isn’t ‘finished’ at 21. It won’t stay the same for the rest of your life, further down the line there may be other things about it to ‘make peace’ with. So while you don’t want to hear that “it’ll happen” – it’s true. I was an A cup at 21 and a D cup five years later (without any surgical enhancement). You have your body for life and it’s going to throw worse things at you than a lack of cleavage.

  5. It comes to those who wait after being a 34AA during my 20′s and a 34C (two children) in my 30′s I now have 34DD in my 40′s even I’m impressed…

  6. I came a card very similar when I was a fairly young child. B stood for ‘basic’, C for ‘cute’ and F for ‘fake’. The others escape me, but those labels obviously took hold because as a child they became my litmus test for what ‘good’ boobs were. A fantastic example of how objectifying, rating and labelling women’s bodies, even as a joke, can give young girls anxieties about their own bodies and encourage them to judge other people’s. It was a fair few years before I realised what utter bullshit that card was, because I was a young child when I saw it.

  7. Couldn’t agree more- I have a 32 f chest and find I look virtually pornographic in clothes that smaller girls look gorgeous in- as a result I never ever wear anything remotely revealing- I know I will be met with comments and stares to remind me of my obscene boobs… The perfect c is clearly all that is acceptable :’(

  8. Tell yourself every single day that you are drop dead gorgeous. Actually tell yourself it, not just think “okay I am telling myself I’m gorgeous, but what if I’m just kidding myself” and in around a months time, you will truly begin the believe it. Keep doing it forever, trust me, it works.

  9. Hey, author here!
    Realising that grass is always greener meaning that by having ‘perfect’ boobs I’d probably dislike something else.
    But honestly, the biggest thing was amazing lingerie. I’ve collected some lovely Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney etc. Higher-end brands actually care about small boobs and make me feel pretty damn great, a few bras even make me feel/look ‘cleavage-y’. Many of the brands can be found on Ebay and TK Maxx so it’s not always a huge splurge!

  10. Thank you for this article! I have also come to terms with my small boobs now (though as you say, I still have off days). I first started feeling self conscious about it because I was the only one in my year not wearing proper bra in year 9.

    I dont really know why, but people seem to think that they have a right to comment on small boobs- I have had so many people tell me to my face that they don’t find me disgusting because of my flat chest (1. Fuck off 2.I wasn’t asking 3. I’m not attracted to you either dickhead but I didn’t feel the need to tell you).

    I have had friends, who I normally respect, comparing me to a 12 year old boy, a frying pan, and telling me I am less than human (as a joke of course- this doesn’t make it any less hurtful). People often say things in an accusatory tone, as if it is somehow my fault, or I am doing something wrong by not having “the perfect C” breasts.

    This kind of thing was at its worst when the “REAL WOMEN” thing took off a couple of years ago, and people all over the internet started writing about how thin women are worth less than “REAL WOMEN WITH CURVES”. These articles often championed curvier women whilst putting down the breastless.

    Something that really helped me come to terms with my body was the normal breasts website . Which has galleries of non sexualised, normal breasts of all sizes. Here is a link if you want to look: (OBVIOUSLY NSFW what with all the naked boobs and all)

    I hope that with the resurgence of feminism, people will realise that it is NOT OK to decide that someone is a “real” woman based on how big their boobs are.

  11. Boob moan: DD. Wonky. Mismatched sizes (bra fitters like to tell me, otherwise I hadn’t noticed from my angle). Can’t wear a sports bra it thankful that m&s are doing some T-shirt bras two for £16 so I don’t have to worry about wrecking bras while working out (or giving myself whiplash by not having s good bra). I’ve found that a scaffolding bra works for me and to not look at anything breathable, lace-like or delicate because it would be like a thing for boobs -useless. Maybe it’s something (nearly) all women learn to deal with and learn to live with.

  12. Just like “Lex”, I was last in line when boobs were handed out but wear a 28C. I go to get fitted around 3 times a year and every single time the fitter will be amazed I am in a C till they actually measure me and realise I am a C, just a very small backed one! I missed the memo about the perfect “C” cup being 1 size, and so did they, obviously…

    I, personally, love my small boobs! They don’t get in the way of exercising, I don’t get too hot around them and if I find an outfit that will be tricky with a bra, I just don’t wear one! It has taken till I was 20 to get to this mindset but I just kept focusing on the positives and asking myself WHY I wanted larger boobs. I found I had no good reason except what had been drummed into me by the media and teenage boy opinions.

  13. Hear hear! Don’t know why everyone is obsessed with massive breasts. I have always been an a and at 34 I wouldn’t want more – sooo practical for running, although it can be annoying when tops and dresses are baggy. Also I have a new respect for my tiny ones after 8 months (and counting) breastfeeding. Size does not appear to matter, and it is amazing to see exactly what they were intended for. They make food! Brilliant!

  14. I had exactly the same problem – insecure at school when I was the only one without a bra. I remember my mum telling me that they’d grow when I had babies, and me wailing in response “but what if I never find anyone to have babies with, because I don’t have any boobs!”.

    But around my early 20′s I started to see the advantages. There are a lot of dresses I can’t wear, but also a lot that I can wear (without needing a bra) that larger chested women would never fit. I don’t get cleavage sweat. I’ve liberated myself from underwiring (pointless if there’s nothing to hold up) and have a very pretty collection of comfortable wire-free bras to wear under the clothes that need them. But as I tend to favour clothes that billow or cowl at the top and nip in at the waist, I often don’t bother with a bra at all these days – smugly jogging up and down stairs with nary a twinge of pain.

    I guess it also helps that my past two lovers have adored my small boobs too… 27 years old, A cup, and happy!

  15. I hear you – 30 GG and the backache is constant. Straps thick enough to cover half my shoulders, paying over £20 for the most basic of bras, zip-back clothes are just out generally and I look like a glamour model if I wear anything slightly tight or with a slight neckline – however a high neckline makes them look bigger! I call mine ‘obscene’ too and it’s so sad that we feel this way. I have a friend with very small breasts who feels as uncomfortable, although can wear padding. But even then – why should she?!
    It’s so true, the ‘perfect C’ is as perfect as an A or a JJJ as long as the woman is comfortable, happy and can wear what she likes. It’s such a shame this is such a difficult balance, thanks to too many factors.

  16. It’s too bad that all the difficult-to-avoid padded bras give the illusion that all women have big round breasts. I am almost totally flat and although I was self-conscious about it when I was single, now that I’ve been married for several years and am not specifically trying to lure anybody else, it’s a point of honor not to wear anything that gives a false impression. I like to think I’m giving a small-power shout-out to all the younger ladies who feel like everybody’s buxom but them.

    Also, RIGHT ON to Laura about the neat-o thing that many breasts can do for babies, regardless of size. My breasts didn’t grow at ALL during pregnancy, leading two lactation consultants to scratch their heads and question whether I could properly nourish my child. Yes indeedy, I could, and did.

    And, for that year of nursing, I achieved some small amount of actual boobage, which I will say I enjoyed… but the bosom went away when nursing stopped, and amazingly enough I am back to flattish and not droopy in the least. At last I am truly grateful for the small.

    Now, instead of comparing my breasts to other women’s, I compare my belly pooch to theirs. But with more a feeling of solidarity than of competition. Yet another female body part that does magical things, and that the media tries to convince us can only look one way!

  17. My boobs are small, but that’s never prevented me from being harassed on the street, at work or at various social occasions. I concluded from this that the beauty industry is pointless and a waste of money. If bigger tits get you more attention, no thanks!!! I’ve had more than I wanted already.

  18. I wear a 30D but was wearing a 34 B until quite recently. I have small boobs, not quite a full handful and I’m 22. The reason I never got measured until this year is that I thought they would put me in a AA and that would be a massive knock to my confidence. Getting the right bra size helped my confidence, to the point that I now don’t wear one if I don’t have to. I see that as a plus! Also all my friends are large breasted, an although they can wear awesome cleavage showing outfits, I can exercise, and have clothes that fit me in the waist and boobs. No one is completely happy with them, but I have learned to see the benefits of small boobage!

  19. I wouldn’t get too excited about the “promised growth”, given they often shrink smaller from whence they started after the preganancy.

    Boobs grow, shrink and droop over the time of our womanhood – why we care so much sucks.

  20. I just hate how guys act like theres some kind of magical button that eventually makes females turn into supermodels. They forget That genetics, puberty, and hormones come into play when it comes to our bodies, and everyone is different.

  21. i see a lot of ‘it will happen to you’ here as it did happen to them, im 32 now and it never happened to me! the whole of my dads side, the women, are extremely large chested and the same on my mothers side, except my mother, and now me.
    my mother has had 3 children and the grew, they emptied and now she has saggy 32a’s!!! how is that even possible lol
    they might grow, they might not, the bottom line is who cares. my only struggle is finding something to wear that doesn’t have ‘boobie space’ already sewn into it or low cut tops that look ridiculous! i’m a 34 chest and a AAcup although even that is to big!, there is no bra that exists for me, i had one made up and it looked silly, all that back and no boob, now i wear no bra as often as i can and get jealousy everywhere (hahaha) no one is ever happy but like i said, im 32, its all down hill from here so if i cant get on with the body i have now im in for a real shock later, you are the only you you will ever have so learn to love your you and get on with it and seriously, men really don’t care, im glad im in a position were somebody loves me for me and not for what he is told hes ideal woman should look like, good luck and embrace all the clothes those larger chested women cant wear!!!

  22. Thanks for this article and all of the great comments. I feel every woman is looking for ways to somehow accept herself and feel beautiful and sexy.. Because the truth is, as mentioned, that the stupid beauty industry and media makes NO woman feel truly beautiful and it sucks!!! It’s not fair. I think my small 34AA boobs are cute, convenient, and my boyfriends likes them. But the main problem is when I think about what everyone else thinks (in general).. It’s so hard not to! I just want to feel sexy and I want someone to look at my picture and think, shes perfect, she’s sexy.. Especially if I’m in a bikini.. But I feel like noone will ever look at me in a bikini and think lustfully, I WANT THAT because media makes me feel like perfect plumpy boobs.. Or any noticable, nice looking boobs.. Are sexy and that’s it. II can’t kid myself into thinking that my body is generally sexy to every one.. I wish I could. I know its not possible to be sexy to everyone, but it is possible to at least truly feel that way..which I feel I can’t. I’ll always feel a little lesser to someone who is decently attractive with cute B cup boobs.. I wish I wouldn’t feel that way. :- (