As I mentioned yesterday, today’s post is by “Denise”, a 15-year-old high school student who is determined to find the right bra size. Enjoy (and empathize with) her journey so far!

I think it’s best I warn you in advance that I’m quite a rambler. Now that you’ve been warned, here is my story (chest edition):

Fourth grade: my first bra size was “small”. Wires poking in (I’m positive that it had underwires because my mom always says that bras without would lead to saggy boobs), frustration with the clasp, etc. Typical tween girl stuff.

Fast forward to sixth grade and I remember I was wearing a 34A. I complained to my mother that something about it was wrong. Something had to be wrong because things could not possibly be right when I felt so miserable. Back then, all I was going on was a gut feeling that most of my boobs should have been inside the bra. My mom bought me a 36A bra and from there, I just kept experimenting. Still, it seemed like I was growing out of my bras faster than I could buy them, and certainly faster than I could get my money out of them.

So I went online to learn more. I searched all kinds of key words, like “how to calculate bra size” and “how to tell if you’re wearing the right bra size” and through loads of websites. I just wanted to know. However, they were confusing to me because for most companies, there are two sections: A calculator and a guide. Of course, I hadn’t known how small my underbust actually was either. At any rate, the calculators would say I was anywhere from 34B to 36A (because they were using +4), while the guide told me the band should be straight, and the center gore should like flat against the chest. I was incredibly confused because I’d already tried these sizes, and the band wouldn’t stay straight or the center gore lie flat against my chest.

Although these sites weren’t helpful at all, I was eventually led to better sites that talked of sister sizing. “Aha!” I thought, “Here’s the key. I must be a 32C because the B and A don’t fit.”  I told my mother and she agreed to help me look (if only because I’d complained so much and she wanted to humor me? I don’t know, but I’m grateful).

I went to the mall and numerous stores, but the only one I remember is Macy’s. As a self-conscious teenager by then (I was a nerd and always tried hard to stay out of the spotlight), I was definitely in awe of their expansive (from my view) displays and selection. To my 13-year-old self, it seemed super mortifying to look at the lacy bras and underwear. I cautiously browsed all the sections, but finding no 32C’s, we decided to ask the a saleswoman working there. She seemed motherly, kind, and perfectly nice but when my mom asked for 32C, she paused, scanned my body and chest and replied that she didn’t think there were any. That sticks out in my mind because I felt like I wasn’t normal and didn’t fit in. (I’d always been skinny but since I have a pretty small butt, I was always sure that any insecurities about my body and boobs would stem from them not being big enough, not the other way around.) Her reaction only added to my embarrassment about the whole thing.

That experience is also what carried me into the mindset that most women and men have: a C cup and D cup are big, and DD is enormous. That was when I started feeling like I had to keep my bra size a secret. My mother took me to Marshalls and T.J. Maxx instead, which are actually great places to shop for anyone who fits into the 32-38 A-D (and select DDs) range. That’s when I started my trial and error process until I got to 32DD. All the ones I  have owned since being a 32C are Calvin Klein for $14.99. As the seventh grader I described above, I truly did feel like those stores were my lifesavers.

At the time, I’m pretty sure I was reading all the fitting advice on Imogen Lamport’s blog, (which is fabulous by the way), and I discovered that my bra didn’t match up with many of the tips. She had an article with pictures that showed correct fit, and I think I also read somewhere on her site that she was an H cup (something like that), which caught me off guard and made me rethink my size. From her blog I found a link to Hourglassy where I read all the Fairy Bra Mother letters and followed the links to Boosaurus, BrasIHate, and StackDD+.  Somehow or another, I also got to the Thin and Curvy blog, and that was when I really discovered how to get a good starting point for an accurate bra size and finally measured myself. “Twenty-four inch underbust,” I thought. “That explains so much!” Now, I’m completely hooked and I read lots of bra blogs daily and as a result of them all, I’ve learned SO MUCH and still am. Seriously. But while I was learning a lot, I wasn’t sure how bras would translate for me due to my underbust.

Then, I emailed Darlene and Christine from Boosaurus and received really kind replies. I was touched because I hadn’t expected a reply at all, never mind so quickly. And that is basically my “bra journey” thus far.

I also want to add that my journey has increased not only my knowledge of bras and boobs and such, but also my self esteem. I may not yet be wearing the perfect bra, but I don’t feel like a freak, and I don’t feel embarrassed about the size of my boobs. If someone asked today, I would tell them. It’s all good. I’m much less of a judgmental person and definitely less insecure. The girl who once googled , “what is considered a big bra size” seems like a totally different person.