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Fears About Breast Size Run Deep

Middle school is when the breast stakes (and breast ugliness) start to get high.

Question: My girlfriend’s breasts are small. I’ve tried to reassure her that this is in no way a problem for me, but she’s very insecure about it. How can I help her understand it makes no difference to me?

I didn’t appreciate the impact a woman’s breasts can have on her self-esteem until last year, when my daughter entered 6th grade. I truly didn’t get it until I started to witness the breast ugliness that begins to unfold in middle school. It can be particularly rough for girls who develop early or late, or who are on the really-big or mostly-flat ends of the cup-size spectrum.

Middle school is when the breast stakes begin to get high. A middle-school girl whose breasts are stampeding toward double-D cup size is suddenly elevated into a class of her own. She can be a mean girl, selfish, or have no personality whatsoever--if her breasts grow large, it’s all the boys will see, and I suspect it’s all the girls will see as well. Other girls who have a lot going for them in every part of their lives except their bra size now have reason to feel insecure, as if getting their periods and middle-school-girl-drama weren’t enough.

The girl who develops early and has large breasts might be a truly wonderful person--but her breasts will start to define her. People who have never met her will sometimes assume she’s easy or a flirt just because of her breast size. 

There’s also the uneven pattern of puberty that can occur in middle-school boys. While the boys might be starting to get man-sized tents in the front of their jeans or cargo shorts, they often remain shorter than middle-school girls. So the chests of the taller girls now stare the boys in the face.

If you doubt how much of an impact breast development has on women, go to the bra section at Target, Walmart, Kohls or Macy’s. Try to find a single bra that doesn’t have padding, regardless of the cup size. And I haven’t mentioned breast implants, which are considered a right of passage among more young women than you might think.

So you can tell your girlfriend that her breast size doesn’t matter, but insecurity and envy about breasts can run deep. Hopefully, it will matter to your GF how you make her feel about herself as a person. Keep telling her you are the luckiest man alive, what a hot body she has, and how much she turns you on.

Unfortunately, these issues can cut deep for women who feel they were left out of the great breast sweepstakes in life.

PS. I didn’t mention breast symmetry, which might also be an issue for your girlfriend. More than 90% of women have breasts that are asymmetrical, which means one breast is different from the other in size, shape or in its position on her chest. This can be a further source of angst for a girl who expects that her breasts will be a perfect match.

illustration of a bra ad from the 1950s
Guide To Getting It On

Paul Joannides, Psy.D., is a research psychoanalyst, author of Guide To Getting It On, and a speaker on college campuses. more...

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