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What Are We Entitled To?


Lately, I've been thinking about how the full bust world has changed in the last five years or so. In 2008, I bought the Panache Superbra Porcelain T-Shirt Bra and I swear, I cried with happiness. Now? I scoff at beige contour cups and demand more intricate, fashionable, and unique styles. Since a spotlight has been shown on the full bust market, I can find pretty bras easily. Full busted women also have their own communities -- enormously popular Reddit threads, secret Facebook groups, and a modest chunk of the Internet which blogs about all issues DD and up. But, I've begun to think, has that left us with a few...entitlement issues?



Just like any blog dedicated to a specific physical feature -- plus size or petite for example -- full bust blogging is a niche community. It's responsible for bringing us together: we've all felt marginalized lingerie shopping, we all pay extra for bras or alterations and sometimes, we wait days -- weeks! -- for a bra to arrive so we may try it on. In a world which prizes "straight" or "average" busts, it's been difficult to face both our own self-awareness and others' discomfort at this sexualized feature which seems to fall so far outside the norm.

We've come a long way! From this to...(Image via Tumblr)
However, times have been a'changin', especially in the last five years. Nordstroms carries 30" bands, a new full bust lingerie brand sprouts annually, and established companies are eager to make their lines as size inclusive as possible. However, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that, despite all the improvements, we continue to be a niche body type. We cannot walk into Target or Urban Outfitters or hell, even many lingerie stores, and walk out with a bra in our size. And there's a reason we can't find our sizes widely available -- the expense. Since we're deemed a minority body type and thus, a minority customer, it's a risk for any company to stock a size that isn't guaranteed to sell as well, or as quickly as say, a 34DD.

...to this! :) (Image via Ad. IQ Global)
Therefore, the men and women who create products for the full busted consumer do so on shaky financial footing. They might make the barest of profits or need to sacrifice other business endeavors to keep a wide size range available. Of course, they're working for a salary too, but there are larger ideas at play: they believe in their endeavors, they relate on a personal level or quite simply, they want to help. It's difficult to remain grounded and grateful to these entrepreneurs who have decided to cater their garments to our body type, when we may disagree with their customer service, return policy or fitting technique.

Lingerie is a privilege, not a right. (Image: Lydia Hearst for Myla Lingerie via style fizz

No matter what keeps them going, they are not required to do anything. There's no law prohibiting an A-KK brand from switching to a more popular and profitable A-F direction. There is no moral statute that dictates Ewa Michalak, Claudette or Elomi must continue to make the products we love. We cannot assume we'll see every full bust bra in every full bust size. But emboldened by the attention the full bust market has received recently, we've grown accustomed to a certain amount of selection, a particular bra construction, and perhaps the most troubling, a strict and universal idea of fit.

I realize there are still full busted women who have a disproportionately small number of bras to choose from and I do not want to diminish their frustration and disappointment. Nor am I condoning every decision these brands have ever made. Far from it, I believe firmly that all of them have made mistakes -- big, small, or in the worst cases, a combination of both. Every DD+ company has areas that need improvement and undeniable successes or bestsellers. There's no need for recriminations or threats, business mistakes may be subtle, but they're always crippling. If any of these companies have misstepped, it'll show up in their sales, which has a ripple effect into their income and quality of life.

Words are power, especially when you've got a rug on your desk. (Gerard ter Borch's "Woman Writing a Letter" via Gladly Lerne, Gladly Teche)

This cycle of expectation seems to begin with a multitude of high or diverse demands and then, when those requests aren't met, a whirlwind of exasperation descends from a community fed up with personal discomfort and cultural discrimination. But I would like to suggest that, while we are a niche market, we are not such a marginalized group as we might think. Entrepreneurs, bra fitters, and industry insiders read our blogs, tweets, and Facebook comments and whether a particular CEO understands our position in this hierarchy or not, we're disseminating information about their products on a daily basis. Through this overlooked and underappreciated power, we can communicate the positive change we would like to see or inquire about an item we can't find elsewhere. If we are genuinely grateful, respectfully grounded and unencumbered by a sense of entitlement, I believe there's nothing we cannot achieve for ourselves.

13 Comments

  1. You know, I am actually very grateful for the selection of bras I can choose from in Masquerade/Panache/Cleo. Until very recently, I thought I was stuck for the rest of my life shoving myself into 34 or 36DD bras that didn't really fit and certainly weren't pretty. Now I have the best lingerie of anyone I know and I'm thrilled to buy my 32G's (and sometimes 32FF's or 30G's). These were sizes I didn't know existed before. I only found this stuff about two years ago, partly due to your blog.

    Not only am I wearing great bras and undies, but I now have found some fantastic clothes through Heartbreaker, Pinup Girl, Biu Biu and Pepperberry. I'm wearing bras and clothes that fit and yes, I am grateful and lookin' good! I also feel a bit snobbish about it all, to tell you the truth. I am wearing much better quality lingerie and clothing than most women and it makes me feel fantastic. What's there to gripe about?!

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    1. Allison, I'm so glad to hear you've found these things will a little help from moi! <--- That's why I have the blog!! :)

      I agree with you completely. I have more clothes that fit me now than any other time in my life and it's all due to DD+ clothing suppliers. When I look in my lingerie drawer and see what comes in full bust sizes, I feel spoiled. You're so right!

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  3. Wow great post Cecily! Very well written and you made some great points. I too feel the same way about full-bust sizing, when most of my life all the full-bust offerings were white and beige. It feels great to have alternatives, and I appreciate the brands that can fill those sizes in the market with pretty things despite the challenges and errors along the way.

    XOXO,
    Amber
    scarlets-letter.net

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    1. Thank you, Amber! It means so much to that you, a fellow blogger, would write that. I'm glad you liked it. :)

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  4. Miss Underpinnings, I adore this post! I was thinking of this the other day actually. Since we're a small store, I sometimes feel like we're never on sure footing. The minute I start bringing in more tee shirt bras is also the same minute everyone wants to know what pretty bras we have. It's a slippery slope to climb for most businesses, and in order to stay alive, decisions have to be made about what inventory is carried/manufactured. Sometimes it's a good decisions; other times not so much. It's frustrating for many, but within the last two years alone, I have seen impressive leaps in the offerings from most manufacturers. Natori who was strictly 32-38 US A-G when we opened now has 30 and 40 bands as well as H cups. Elomi, who focused more on mildly dowdy basics, exploded with collections rivaling Fantasie and Freya. Panache created an entirely new brand for the 36+ band customer. So, companies are listening, and they are trying. Sometimes I think we just have to be patient . . . and buy things at full price from time to time. Retailers won't stock items they always need to sell on sale or that pop up on discounter's websites fast. And if they're not buying it, manufacturers will stop making it. :(

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    1. Wow, thank you Sophisticated Pair! In your assessment of full bust and plus size options, I agree wholeheartedly. Even since I started the blog, which isn't THAT long ago, so many things have changed and new options added to an eclectic and high quality market. Patience is a huge part of this too and the confidence to ask for what you want, without criticism or aggression. There's no harm in asking, but it doesn't do anyone any good to confront, attack, or harp on a consumer issue. I think it's also important to remind people that yes, small businesses don't have 1 million in the bank to provide every single item a customer might want or that, many independent DD+ producers, are truly small scale operations. It's key to remember the human faces and remind ourselves of what treasure and availability we already have.

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  5. So I was thinking about this post (you know it's a great post when you can't get it out of your head), and I agree with everything, but I think it's also important that while we should recognize that companies are listening and options have expanded so much for the full-bust audience, individuals should not stop voicing their concerns with products or fitting advice if they have them, even at the risk of being completely wrong. We have so many options now because our voices were heard, companies realized there was an area to make profit, and also help a large group of women. But hostility toward these companies is just never acceptable, and I'm glad you pointed that out :)

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    1. Absolutely. I think there's a fine line between voicing your concerns with products or fitting procedures and needlessly aggressive behavior. I think that if that line is crossed, it not only undermines the individual's opinion but similar grievances from other individuals as well. And, some companies aren't going to respond because while it might be your preference/opinion/complaint, that might not be what the company believes in or is profitable for them. I communicate what I'd personally like to see all the time -- sheer demis, my Freya Cupcake, retro swimsuits -- and I think it's invaluable for everyone to do the same. Both for companies who receive the data/convenient research and for individuals, to creatively envision or voice what they'd like. BUT, at some point, the tone shifts or an idea spreads like wildfire and a population who have already been denied, become enraged. I hope that, as a group, we can avoid that ledge and speak our minds wisely.

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    2. I stopped being able to focus on your reply after I read "Freya Cupcake." Want.

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    3. I'm glad we're in agreement on that one!!

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