You know when you think you know something? You know this thing so well, in fact, that you don’t even think about it anymore, it’s just an accepted part of your worldview. The sky is blue. Olive never stops talking. E=MC2. These are just facts! Generally accepted truths!
Well, this afternoon one of my own personal truths shattered and I am still reeling from the aftershock.
In case it wasn’t obvious already, this story is about boobs.
This story is about how I stood in a dimly lit lingerie store with Olive chattering at me on one side and women hungrily pawing through sale bins of panties on the other, and my life changed forever.
We’ve all read those stories about women wearing the wrong bra size, right? And I, like you, have mostly just felt bewildered by these women. Tell me, who exactly are these ladies walking around like: “Oh man, I thought I had tiny boobs but I actually have ginormous boobs! How on earth was I supposed to know that?! Hahahahaha, thanks, Marie Claire!”
These women were clearly fools. For god’s sake, boobs are a very tangible sort of asset! They’re right there. Simple to measure and easy to take stock of. I, for example, have small boobs! This is a fact. They suit my frame quite nicely, seem sag-resistant and are generally just lovely little handfuls. A little sadder after breastfeeding, perhaps, but that’s life.
Small boobs, as we all know, are As and Bs in the bra size world. That’s another fact.
OR SO I THOUGHT.
You see, I wandered into this fancy lingerie store because they were having a sale. I don’t buy lingerie secondhand, for obvious reasons, so I figured this was as good a time as any to add a real bra to my collection of pretty little bralettes. Sometimes a lady wants a little shape, you know?
I had Olive with me (because I always have Olive with me) and as she busied herself by peeling underwear off mannequins, I waved down one of the cute salesgirls and asked her to quickly measure me.
She did some quick juju with the measuring tape, smiled and said, “32D”.
I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I laughed in her face.
In no world am I a D cup. When I picture a woman with a bra size of 32D, I picture a super petite busty blonde (I don’t know why she’s blonde, but she is, and she definitely isn’t me. )
“No, no, no. You don’t understand,” I said, still laughing. “I’m not a 32D. I was just wondering if I was 34A or 34B.” I gestured feebly to my handful of thusly-sized bras as proof, I suppose, of what size my boobs actually were.
She smiled again and said politely that many women are wearing the wrong bra size and most are wearing a cup size far too small.
“Yes, yes, but those women are idiots!” I felt like yelling. “What kind of woman crams her gloriously large breasts into a way-too-small bra?! That doesn’t make sense! Who would do that?? There is no way I’ve just somehow failed to notice that I have huge breasts. I just – I feel like someone would have mentioned that to me by now!”
I didn’t yell this, however, because I am not a yeller by nature. Instead, I laughed harder, took the bras she was offering me (32D?!) because I didn’t want to be rude, and headed to the change room. I was sure to pick up a few more nice ones in my real size along the way.
When Olive and I got to the change rooms, the woman there had a tape measure around her neck, too. I told her my hilarious story about being between an A cup and a B cup and needing to figure out which, and how the girl at the front – while super helpful – must have measured me wrong because she said I was a 32D and I mean… (here I gestured at my modestly sized chest, my lovely little handfuls).
She smiled, and obligingly whipped around the measuring tape for a few seconds, looked me in the eye and said, “Yep, 32D.”
At this point, I was just frustrated. So, I smiled politely at her, the way you might smile at a small child telling you about their imaginary friend or a coworker droning on about the dream they had last night. I shut the dressing room door, Olive settled herself on the plush ottoman and I started trying on bras.
I’ll just cut to the chase here: The 32Ds fucking FIT.
I stood, staring at myself in the mirror for what seemed like hours. I didn’t understand what witchcraft was at play here. HOW did this work? My boobs have always been small. They still were small. Yet there they sat, comfortably nestled within a D cup, with nary a gap to be seen.
Let me tell you, I busted out of that dressing room looking for answers.
Once the lady began explaining, my mind was blown. I’m 34 years old and I’ve been wearing bras for 20 of those years, how did I not understand the complex algebra of bra sizes before? The way I always understood it was that the letter represented the overall size of the breast and the band number was the width of your body. Because that would make sense. A cups are small boobs. D cups are big boobs. Everyone knows this!
EXCEPT WE ARE ALL WRONG.
The sizing doesn’t work like that! No. We had to make it complicated. The cup size of a 38A bra is the same as the cup size of a 36B which is the same as a 34C which is the same as a 32D which is the same as a 30DD. THESE BRAS WILL ALL HOLD THE SAME BOOBS. From there, finding which size to go with really is just a matter of fit and proportions. (This is a good, if complicated, explanation.)
So, Internet, it turns out, I am one of those idiot women who’s been wearing the wrong bra size! And it’s not because I was stuffing ginormous boobs into a tiny bra – believe me. It’s because I’ve always been terrible with math and bralettes have never required these sorts of bewildering calculations.
In conclusion: I’m a fool. Furthermore, I’m beginning to question everything I thought I knew. At least now my boobs look great.