Bra Sizes and Bigger Breasts: Where’s the Science?
By Elisabeth Dale
Recent survey results from bra retailer, Intimacy, revealed that American women are wearing bigger bras than they did 20 years ago. The average size reportedly jumped from 34B to 34DD. Media outlets covered this news with headlines such as “breasts getting bigger,” or “America’s cups runneth over.” It was shocking to think that women’s busts had tripled in size. But is it true? Or could women, thanks to a booming lingerie industry, have finally opened their eyes to their correct bra size? What are the facts?
This isn’t the first time that larger bra sizes have been in the news. Some think it’s linked to the soaring rates of obesity. Plus size bra offerings have expanded over the years. But while breasts are mostly made of fat, not every woman gains, or loses, weight in her chest. Many women have pear shaped body types, with fat settling into hips and thighs. Plus obesity can’t account for the rise in deeper cup bra sales (bands starting at 28 with cups DD to J). More and more lingerie brands are targeting a youthful, small back/deep cup market.
Others blame swelling sizes on an increase in breast augmentation procedures. But, again, there are no studies connecting sales of bigger bras to super-sized implants. Implant volumes are measured in cc’s, not bra cup sizes. These vary depending on a woman’s height, weight, and even geographic area. Many women rely on implants to restore breast volume lost by pregnancy, not triple breast size. Even post-surgery photos reflect more body proportionality than the assumed top-heavy stereotype.
Some are convinced that breast size has been altered by the increased use of hormones or pollutants in the environment. But again, no research organization or scientific body has come forward to confirm or deny these theories.
Bra manufacturers may be more in touch with their customers. Attractive bras above a D cup weren’t always available in US department stores. Today women can find AA to K cups, in lingerie shops or through on-line retailers. A 34 DD isn’t so out of place in this broader alphabet cup spectrum. It’s still hard to believe that women had been stuffing themselves into too small bra sizes for decades; suffering silently until they met up with the right bra fitter. Which is more likely? Did supply create demand or the other way around?
No one knows. Average bra size isn’t easy to pin down. First, no two breasts are alike. They don’t even stay the same size and shape over the course of a woman’s lifetime. Second, no two bra styles, or same size bras in different brands, fit alike. So is it any wonder that 8 out of 10 women are in the wrong size bra? Even that popular bra fitting mantra isn’t founded on meaningful research. All we can conclude about the current state of women’s breasts and bra sizes is that there’s not much science involved.
What do you think? Are women’s breasts getting bigger or are women simply discovering their correct bra size? Does it matter?