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This is a guest post.
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If you spend any time with women who are passionate about fitting bras, sooner or later you’re bound to hear a woman wearing a 32+ band asked if she’s wearing the correct size. Often, this question will be posed with a statement along the lines of “You only need a 34 band if you’re obese.”

I wear a 34/36 and am only 5’2″, but I am not obese, according to my doctor. I am overweight, but so are many women wearing much smaller bands. I’m robust. Sturdy. Big-boned. Whichever word you choose, I’m built on a different scale than most women who are passionate about bras, although I don’t look all that different from some of them.

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A: Loose underbust measurements: 30 and 35.5. Which is which?

There are other women like me. When we see our large ribs described as extremely unusual or very rare, it can be difficult not to feel like a unicorn, which is, after all, a rather large animal.

I’ve started feeling worse about my proportions since I started reading material written by women who are passionate about bra fitting. Boosaurus recently asked her readers if their sizes are represented in the bra blogging world, and in my case, the answer is no. Sometimes I feel like a giant in a world of sub-30 bands.

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B: One volume apart: approximately 1,810 cc and 1,580 cc of breast tissue, 3 band sizes of difference. Can you immediately identify the bra sizes in these pictures?

I’m glad, of course, that women with smaller bands are so vocal about making companies aware of the demand for their sizes. I don’t deny that most women who stumble into blogs and other resources which stress correct bra fit are wearing too large bands with too small cups.

Yet in our passion to normalize smaller bands, we’re at risk of doing a disservice to women who need larger bands. Although I have no doubt that we aren’t trying to shame women who need larger bands, the cumulative effect of how we talk about bigger bands is having an impact on some bigger-boned women. I think it’s important to remember that what we say about larger bands not only reaches an audience of women who have been incorrectly sized into large bands and small cups, but also women who genuinely need bigger bands.

I say “we” because I also assume a woman is probably in the wrong size if she mentions a 34 or 36 band and a cup size which is too small indicate that she knows about British sizing. These band sizes are less common among average-sized women than the media suggests. Not impossible or a certain sign of obesity, but certainly not the norm.

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C: One of these women wears a 30 band, and the other wears a 36/38.

If women who wear 30 bands are wondering why they don’t fit in 28s despite a slender bone structure–as The Feminine Curve recently described–where does this leave women who need 34, 36, or 38 bands? When we visually compare our bodies to women who look similar but wear 6 inch smaller bands, it’s difficult to resist reverse letterphobia.

Oxaloacetate writes: “I am one of those who wears a 36 band. It does hurt when people talk about it the way they do.”

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D: A 30 band and a 34 band.

I hope these pictures have demonstrated that women’s band sizes can be larger than 32 even if the woman is not obese, and that the way we often talk about band sizes can leave big-boned women feeling like oddities.

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The guest author wearing a 36 band Panache.

Although my point wasn’t to test how well you can guess measurements, and I don’t feel the actual sizes are needed to underscore my assertion that a woman in a larger band doesn’t have to look very different from a woman in a smaller band, I know that for some people (like me!) it’s very frustrating to see a question and not be able to check the answer. So here are the “solutions”:

A: 30 inches on the left, 35.5 inches on the right.

B: 34GG (1,580) on the left, 28JJ (1,810) on the right.

C: 30 band on the left, 36/38 band on the right. Left photo courtesy of Curvy Wordy.

D: 30 band on the left, 34 band on the right.

Thank you to all the women who let me use their photos in this blog post!

How do you think we can convey the message that many women are wearing bands which are too large, without denigrating women who wear larger bands? If you wear a larger band, are you affected by what you’ve read about your band size?

No matter what your size, if you know you’re wearing the correct bra, consider posting an image to The Bra Band Project to help build up a reference of women of all sizes.