I’m not ashamed of my giant whammers. I quite like them. But that’s not to say I’ve always felt this way.
I was completely flat-chested until I was 15, and then my boobs suddenly arrived like late, unwelcome guests. Yay puberty!
For me, this was the start of many years of swinging between hating my tits and strapping them down in embarrassment, and displaying them to devastating effect – if you wanted a glass of Archers and lemonade bought for you by a 16-year-old boy, I was your lady.
In fact, when I was 16, their main purpose was obtaining and disguising alcohol. I worked out that not only would they get me served in pubs, but I could also smuggle a can of beer down them (which saves a few quid at the bar if you’re going to a gig) or, in one instance, a big bottle of Jack Daniels (I was very popular at Reading Festival ‘04).
But that didn't mean I always liked having them. Most of the time, I was pretty ashamed of them. I wished I was lanky and lean like Karen O or, um, Nick Valensi – having a slightly mumsy figure definitely wasn’t cool.
As they grew, dancing was difficult, buying clothes that fit properly was difficult. Even though I wasn’t fat, I always felt I was. As if I was taking up too much room. I felt like I was deliberately attracting the attention of white van men (depressingly, they love 15-year-old girls with big tits) and that I deserved to be treated slightly differently by boys and girls alike.
Also, even when I didn’t mean to show a lot of cleavage, my tops would always sort of get pulled down by my boobs. This meant that even a high-necked T-shirt would end up with a plunging neckline. In typically melodramatic teenage style, it felt like my body was conspiring against me.
Even big department stores like John Lewis didn’t stock bras that fit me when I reached an F cup aged 16. Thank God for the Internet, or I would have probably have had to weld my own underwires and stitch my own bras out of old bedsheets. Although sometimes the choice of hideous granny bras on offer did make me consider DIY underwear.
By the time I turned 21, I’d stopped wanting a breast reduction, big bras weren’t all utterly hideous (thank you, Figleaves!), and I just didn’t care as much about what people thought of my wabs. I’m now 25 and have settled at a 32G, and am a size 12.
To me, it now seems unfair that anyone should feel mumsy or fat or in any way inhibited because of their boobs. I’m not ashamed of mine at all anymore, in fact I actively like them. I wouldn’t want to be flat-chested, which is quite a big step forward for me. But I do understand that sometimes you just want to minimise them.
People notice big tits, and for reasons I will never understand, feel free to comment on them. It’s understandable that sometimes we want to keep them to ourselves. I kind-of love Gok Wan (my guilty pleasure), but I think his “get your bangers out!” advice isn’t very helpful if you just, um, don’t feel like getting them out.
Anyway, here’s how I camouflage my norks. Hope you find this useful. If you have any tips to add, just let me know…
You can wear high-necked jumpers!Trinny and Susannah in all their highlighted, ruched-velvet-booted wisdom, decreed that women with big boobs should only wear wrap dresses or wrap jerseys or wrap cardigans or wrap shirts.
Anything with a plunging neckline was flattering, went the rule, as it sort of cut your boobs in half, making them look smaller. I emphatically think this is not true. Getting them out does make them look bigger.
I find that a scoop-necked jumper in with a slightly baggy fit works wonders. A medium-to-thin jersey or wool is ideal, as it won’t add extra bulk to your chest, but should lightly skim everything, and cover up what you don’t want to show off. But don’t be put off a thick knit altogether.
As Becca argued it doesn’t matter if a jumper makes you look bigger than you are, as long as you feel comfortable and like you’re not on display. But NEVER wear polo necks! They could make the perkiest E-cup whammers look like stretched socks stuffed with change.
Avoid strappy anything!Spaghetti straps on tops and dresses are the cruelest, most unflattering things on anyone over a size 10, or above a C cup. These cute little spindles on garments suit lots of people, but they make me look like a hippo.
Ditto to any very delicate detailing. Proportion is your enemy when it comes to straps and fine detailing.
Tank tops with thicker straps are much better for bigger boobs, and also help cover up wider bra straps (disclaimer: I do own a few strappy items and wear them on holiday, I just don’t wear them if I want to minimise my cleavage).
Use your long hair (aka “hair bra”)!The ace up my sleeve at all times. Bringing my hair over my shoulders and down over my boobs makes me feel 80 per cent less self-conscious at any one time. It’s a School Of The Bleeding Obvious tip, but if you don’t have long hair, a fine-knit scarf does a similar job. But hair bra is a very personal favourite.
T-shirts aren’t always great!I’ve been trying to work out what it is about T-shirts that can be so unforgiving on big-boobed women, and I think I’ve cracked it. It’s possibly to do with the fact that the sleeves stop short at exactly the widest part of your body, making you look wide too.
In the same way that three-quarter length sleeves can be really flattering because they end at your waist (the narrowest bit of your body) T-shirts often make me feel massive.
My favourite T-shirt is from Cos as it has slightly longer-than-normal sleeves, which stops me looking quite so wide. I also have one with slightly capped sleeves, which stop just above my boobs.
Wear a normal bra under a sports bra!If you want to change the scaffolding underneath your clothes, I’ll let you in on a secret: minimiser bras don’t work. Believe me. As a teenager, I tried many different kinds, and they always give you a funny shape – pushing all your boob fat right to the bottom of the bra, then sitting tight at the top of your tit. Yuck.
What I’ve found works best for me is wearing a bra that gives you nice, round boobs, and putting a sports bra on over the top to compress them slightly.
A sports bra on its own can give you the dreaded sausage boob or “monoboob”, when all the goodies are squeezed into one tight bundle across your front. By wearing a proper bra underneath, you’re keeping the shape, but gently squashing them down.
Or you can just think “fuck it”! Be proud of your tits and get them out (see: pic of me in a Viv Westwood corset-style top at the beginning of this post).
Helen and both her boobs are on Twitter @helennianias.