I have to get something off my chest (pun intended): Having big boobs kind of sucks.
I first developed breasts when I was 9 years old. By the time I was 15, my breasts were a DD on my small girl frame. I was young, and big boobs made me look and feel more grown. I felt lucky to have them.
Over time, I’ve developed a more mature hourglass shape and today, at five feet tall with breasts size DDD or E or F (depending on the bra shop), the top of my hourglass has become a little too full. When I go shopping for $80-plus brassieres, or try to wear a button-up shirt or turtleneck, or go in to awkwardly hug a co-worker, or when strangers eyes’ (or, let’s be real, hands!) wander to my chest, I don’t feel so lucky anymore. I feel kind of cursed.
I get it, big boobs —which I’ll define as a US DD or larger — are seen as cool and desirable. In 2018, over 300,000 women received breast implants or augmentations to lift their chests. Large breasts on women are typically sexualised and considered preferred by men. The hourglass shape has become an increasingly desirable body type, with women donning waist trainers and undergoing medical procedures to get bodies akin to that of celebs like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj or Kim Kardashian.
But for some people like me, it can be a pain in the neck ― literally ― and the bad heavily outweighs the good.
“When patients come to me, the symptoms that they tell me include neck pain, back pain, grooves in their shoulders or rashes underneath their breasts,” Dr. Melissa Doft, a New York City plastic surgeon and assistant professor at the Weill Cornell School of Medicine, told HuffPost. “[They have] difficulty finding the right bras, difficulty feeling comfortable in the workplace, difficulty in social situations and it doesn’t change if they lose weight. In fact, they could be trying to go to the gym but it’s hard to exercise wearing two or three bras.”
If your first reaction is to tell these women to get a reduction ― which over 43,000 women did last year ― Doft points out the risk that changing your body won’t change your mind about how you look and feel.
“Not all breast reductions are beautiful. People are afraid of [having] large scars. And sometimes you discover things you didn’t really notice because your breasts were distracting you,” she said. “People who are unhappy in their body, you always run the risk of being unhappy after you make a change.”
I wondered, then, how other people cope with the weight on their bodies and the weight of societal pressure on their self-image thanks to their breast size.
Twenty-two women told HuffPost (some of whom requested anonymity) how they feel about having big boobs, how they deal with the highs, the lows and the opinions of others, and how they’re learning to love themselves while living large (that’s definitely the last pun!).
Sometimes, I think people only see my DDDs.
“My absolute No. 1 complaint is that I don’t feel like my breasts belong to me, that I have less control over my body because of my large breasts ... At 20, I uncomfortably laughed along with the crowd when a comedian did a bit about me and my large chest. At 26, my boyfriend regularly grabs at my breasts and I occasionally feel like that’s the only reason he’s dating me. Sometimes, I think people only see my DDDs.” ––Anonymous
My breasts are both my best asset and my worst depending on the day I am having.
“My breasts always entered the room before I did and I could never find bras that fit well or were flattering. My back is constantly aching and so are my breasts. I often think about breast reduction surgery. On the plus side I am bigger than all my friends and they are all jealous until they hear what I go through. I do enjoy going out in a lower-cut top at times and thinking I look good because despite all the trouble they give me I do enjoy the looks I get from both men and women when I flash a little cleavage. My breasts are both my best asset and my worst depending on the day I am having.” ―Anonymous
I’m a DD and I love them ... Bras are expensive though.
“I’m a DD and I love them. I was very flat in high school and was very self-conscious about it. They didn’t get bigger until after I got married and gained some weight. I’m 45. I’m not so huge as to have any real problems. Clothes fit for the most part except some button-downs. Bras are expensive though. That’s a downside.” ―Jennifer F.
I’m currently a J cup and I’m still nursing. I have such a hard time breastfeeding.
“I’m currently a J cup and I’m still nursing. I had such a hard time breastfeeding initially because the positions the lactation nurses advise don’t really work for women who are above a DD/DDD cup. I’ve completely abandoned button shirts as they always pop and buying bras is like buying luxury items except it’s a necessity.” ―Erika H.
Breasts are not shameful. They’re part of my body.
“It’s taken me nearly 10 years to work through those childhood years of embarrassment and feelings of shame about my breasts. I’m 29, a 36DD and I fully embrace the bralette lifestyle. I sleep topless, and on really confident days, (especially during the summer when it’s sweltering) I’ll go braless. Breasts are not shameful. They’re part of my body. Yes, they’re still bigger than my mother’s (and even my older sister’s), but I’m happy with them. They fit my frame, I love the way they look and for better or worse, I’m stuck with them. So I’ve decided to embrace them.” ―Audra A.
Having large breasts has had a profound influence on my life. If anything they’ve made me stronger and more confident as a person.Anonymous
When we are having a conversation, you should look at my face.
“I like having nice curves, and I feel quite feminine. I feel like a goddess. When I was single, it was easy to rule out guys whose eyes constantly gravitated towards my chest — yes, they are real and they are spectacular — but when we are having a conversation you should look at my face. It helped to identify the man I love because he never once has talked to my chest. The problem is many men seem to assume a larger-breasted woman is not as intelligent or is “slutty” and then combine that with blond hair ... it’s insulting how many men treat us.” ―Anonymous
No matter what I wear, it’s always: “Your boobs are so huge!”
“I’m currently 19 years old with DDD cups. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked having large boobs as much as I did within the last year. I went away for university and was exposed to many different people and spent a lot of time partying, I hated the commentary I would get on my boobs and still do. No matter what I wore, it was, “Your boobs are so huge!” Eventually the phrase became redundant and I got tired of hearing it or wearing things and feeling like exposing my chest was drawing too much attention. I had this one female co-worker who would always say how my breasts are so big and how she wish she had some of mine. Though there was no ill intention, hearing commentary often was simply annoying and irritating.” ―Anonymous
I like having big boobs because I’m lacking in the booty department.
“I looked into getting a breast reduction but I’m not sure if it’ll be worth it at my age or if I can get it covered with health insurance. All in all, I like having big boobs because they can fill in tops and I’m lacking in the booty department but from an early age, they created unwanted attention and has continued to do so. I just want to simply wear shirts that aren’t meant to be sexualised but automatically are because of the size of my boobs.” ―Zarah F.
Laying down it feels like you have a small elephant on your chest keeping you from breathing.
“I’m 20 and I am a 40 G/H (18G in Australia). I’ve had big breasts for as long as I can remember, I was a B cup at 7 and a DD by 12. I’ve had grown men look exclusively at my breasts since I was 12! Having people, women and men alike, just stare and basically talk at your breasts instead of at you makes you feel uncomfortable in your own body. Aside from that the pain is borderline unbearable, your shoulders, back, neck, and you chest right under your underwire is annoying at best. Everything hurts after a full day and then laying down it feels like you have a small elephant on your chest keeping you from breathing and laying comfortably.” ―Danlerie L.
My breasts are definitely my best physical feature.
“I have been a natural 36DD (14DD in Australia) most of my adult life. My breasts are definitely my best physical feature. But being large-breasted is most inconvenient when it came to playing sports. Even the best sports bras do not stabilise your breasts when you run. Having a perfect golf swing is also next to impossible since your breasts get in the way. I took lessons from a pro for a while. Maybe there are tricks getting around the problem he didn’t know because he was a guy. Swimming, cycling, walking, kick boxing, yoga & weight training are much more comfortable sports for large-breasted women.” ―Anonymous
Every woman deserves access to beautiful lingerie.
“Every woman deserves access to beautiful lingerie. The problem is that most of the beautiful bras only go up to a B or C. This is one of my biggest pet peeves! The bra selection for women larger than a C are usually plain black, white & beige. Large-breasted women want to wear beautiful bras made with dainty lace or cute fabric just as much as small-breasted women.
At the end of the day, I love my breasts. I would feel the same if they were an A or B cup. I’ve taken good care of them over the years. I can say that having large breasts has had a profound influence on my life. If anything they’ve made me stronger and more confident as a person. I’m thankful to be who I am today.” ―Anonymous
I can’t wait to be able to afford a reduction!
“34GG (12GG in Australia) here and for me the lows definitely outweigh the highs. The only high I can really think of is that when I want an outfit to look sexy, I really don’t have to try hard. Just throw on a low-cut top and I’ll turn heads all night. But the lows besides the obvious (back pain, shoulder grooves from bras, boob sweat) is that I have to buy a lot of my clothes in big sizes just to compensate my breasts, I can almost never go strapless or braless because I can’t find a decent strapless bra to save my life! And going braless just makes my boobs look droopy and weird in almost anything. I’m also really short, 5’2, so my breasts take up half my torso. I can’t wait to be able to afford a reduction!” ―Felice P.
I love my body, but I wish people would see me for more than my body.
“My bra size is a 40F (18F in Australia), and it’s been that way for awhile. I’ve had a large chest my whole life, so even when I was 16 and younger older men would hit on me and say I looked older. No matter what I wore, I was oversexualised, even as a child. I love my body, but I wish people would see me for more than my body.” ―Anonymous.
I get compliments from my friends about how comfy my chest is for cuddling.
“Having large breasts is, for me, more frustrating than anything. The back pain trying to balance the heaviness of my bust only gets worse with each passing year, and no matter how I work to lose weight, it never decreases my bust size. If anything, they just keep growing. I love the way I fill out a great top or how often I get compliments from my friends about how comfy my chest is for cuddling. But they’re so big I literally cannot run or dance for 10 seconds without pain throughout my entire torso. Jumping is almost worse. The very first thing I do when I’m home for the day and don’t have to leave again is take the bra off. That moment of relief is better than a good night’s sleep.” ―Anonymous.
I gave up trying to cover them up. I can’t hide them if I tried.
“I’m a 40F (18F in Australia). As I got older I learned to embrace and accept that they were just apart of who I was but that they would not define me as a whole. I can’t deny the fact that they could get me a better place in line, access to certain areas and lots and lots of attention but at the end of the day, I have struggled with neck, back and shoulder pain. Spending thousands of dollars on expensive ugly bras, ill-fitting tops and swimsuits. A tank top on others looks so nice, on me pornographic. I gave up trying to cover them up. I can’t hide them if I tried. I’m waiting for the second time in less than two years to see if my insurance will cover my breast reduction. Fingers crossed & prayers I get to be normal someday soon. To be braless, to run, to lay on my stomach, to not look crazy in a turtleneck or tank top. I can’t wait … ” ―Liz.
I fell in love with an extraordinary man who helped me embrace my breasts.
“I’ve always hated my breasts but recently, I fell in love with an extraordinary man who dies over my body, and particularly my breasts. He gives them love and attention. It makes me laugh so hard, and makes me uncomfortable, but I think I — and my body, and my breasts — need to hear it. I still get confused when he tells me how much he loves my body. He’s helped me embrace my breasts. I’ve stopped hiding them under baggy clothes and have started wearing shirts that enhance them and make them visible. I have started to see my beautiful breasts as an asset, not something to hide. I can now say I absolutely love my big breasts. And with my recent discovery of double-sided tape, there is truly nothing stopping me. Ha!” ―Neda H.
I’m so over the fact that clothes fit funny.
“I have lived with larger than average breasts since college ... and they’ve only gotten bigger over the past 30 years! I’m so over the fact that clothes fit funny. Working out ... well, just getting the special bra on is a workout for me, but worth it, because it holds my chest in firm place. But because I’m older, I just don’t seem to care as much ... one of the benefits of getting older, perhaps.” ―Anonymous
The assumption that you’re being sexual just for having big boobs is absurd and dangerous.
“I’m usually between 32 to 34 (10 to 12 in Australia), DD to DDD. There are plenty of complaints but my biggest pet peeve is when big-breasted women get in trouble for wearing a tank top, while women that have smaller breasts were not chastised for the same exact kind of top. The assumption that you’re being sexual, no matter what, just for having big boobs is absurd and dangerous. It’s body-shaming that needs to stop, particularly because it’s done to children who developed early and children end up being sexualised by peers and adults alike.” ―Sarah S.
If I could get them cut off tomorrow and end up with nothing, I would do it in an instant.Anonymous
I currently wear a 40P, but can rarely find that size so I squeeze into a 40N.
“With each of my children, I’ve gained weight and cup sizes. I currently wear a 40P (18 in Australia), but can rarely find that size so I squeeze into a 40N. Having large breasts has fewer highs than lows, to be sure. They balance my figure and my husband sure likes them, but that’s it. Bras are expensive, costing around $60+ and very difficult to find. They are almost always utilitarian and ugly, in beige, white, and maybe black. I would have reduction surgery, but ... it is surgery.” ―Jani W.
I just wish everyone understood that jokes and comments about someone’s body are not okay!
“I guess one high would be that men like them, but personally I experience all ‘lows’ because who cares what men think. I’m an E. Aside from all the usual complaints of trying to find tops that fit correctly, boob sweat, uncomfortable running/jumping, etc., I have one that truly bothers me: Men and women both think it’s okay to joke about them, like it’s something I chose. I don’t know why they do this. I just wish everyone understood that jokes and comments about someone’s body are not okay!” ―Anonymous
There are no highs with having big boobs, just embarrassment, discomfort, and pain.
“There are no highs with having big boobs, just embarrassment, discomfort and pain. My boobs have now passed GG size and I cannot summon up the energy to go bra shopping and experience the horror of finding they’ve skipped the Hs and gone straight to the Is. I work (from home) lying down on the couch so I don’t get as bad neck and backache and still have to take painkillers regularly. I avoid social occasions because bras, even when they do fit, are a torture device. I used to love running — it’s near impossible now. My boobs look comically disproportionate, make me appear bigger than I am, make it impossible to find clothing, look alarming in person, and when I catch sight of myself in an unfamiliar mirror, I do not recognise the person trapped behind them. I am a reasonably small framed person with an athletic figure and these things have just parked themselves on my frame. Don’t even mention swimsuits. I am reluctant to get pregnant because they would balloon to probably J or K or L cups. If I could get them cut off tomorrow and end up with nothing, I would do it in an instant.” ―Anonymous
Having big beautiful breasts is one of the top 10 things in my life for which I most grateful!
“I’m a 34DDD (12DDD in Australia) and I love it. One, my boobs are natural. While other women go into debt to attain breasts like mine, I grew my own. Two, they’re sexy and beautiful. Three, they balance out my naturally full derriere. Of course, there are cons to having large breasts, such as not being able to go discreetly braless and the usual back pain, but having big beautiful breasts is one of the top 10 things in my life for which I most grateful!” ―Laura C.
Quotes have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.