Growing up asexual with big boobs was like navigating a minefield of insecurities, discomfort, and unwanted attention. Join us as we explore the stigmas, misconceptions, and the impact they can have on a person’s quality of life and participation in physical activities.
- Sydney Sweeney: ‘I had boobs before other girls and I felt ostracized’
- SYD AMBITIOUS Inside the rise of Hollywood starlet Sydney Sweeney, from reason she can’t drink to blaming herself for parents’ divorce
- Women with larger breasts are less satisfied with their breasts: Implications for quality of life and physical activity participation
- These Ridiculously Pointed ‘Bullet Bras’ Were Trendy Back In The 50s & Honestly, We Don’t Know Why!
- Misses Kisses (not sponsored, but they are a literal miracle)
- Intimate Designs: The KC-area bra shop that changed my life
Courtney: Well, friends, I think it’s finally time. I have been saying since day one of this podcast that someday we are going to have a conversation about boobs. I will admit, I’ve been putting it off a tad, but it is finally time. That is what we are doing today. So hello, welcome, or welcome back. If you are new here, my name is Courtney and I’m here with my spouse, Royce, and together we are The Ace Couple. And I have Big Boob Trauma, [laughs] and we’re gonna talk about that. So before we get into my personal story, I want to touch on an article that blew up not too terribly long ago. It was about actress Sydney Sweeney, who is in Euphoria. We’ve done an episode on Euphoria and we have a lot of thoughts about that show, just in general. You can listen to that if you’d like. But I wouldn’t say that we are fans of it by any means, and the way they casually throw around the word asexual we think is quite harmful in fact. But this is not about the show, this is about the actor.
Courtney: A big article out of New York Post started absolutely blowing up on Twitter with so many commentaries, really vile comments most of them. It was entitled ‘Sydney Sweeney: I had boobs before other girls and I felt ostracized.’ And, oh my goodness, did everybody online slam her for this. But even though she didn’t go into a lot of depth or nuance or specifics, there is something there that we really, really, really need to talk about. First of all, it should perhaps be mentioned that this was a secondary article that was pulled out of quotes from an interview on The Sun, and the original interview was called: Inside the rise of Hollywood starlet Sydney Sweeney, from reason she can’t drink to blaming herself for parents’ divorce. And what did everybody take out of that? She had boobs before everyone else and she was upset about it. That became the dominant narrative.
Courtney: And I have feelings about that. Because, as much as I think what she’s saying is very correct and relatable to people who were in the same boat – myself included – and it’s something that I do wish people could talk about a little more openly, I do not for one minute think that most people were sharing this article or commenting on this article in any form of good faith. And in fact, I wonder about the authors and the editors that pulled out that one little nugget from this big interview that talked about other very personal things. What are the motives? They know people are going to talk about boobs. They know it, especially someone like Sydney Sweeney, who is in a very sexual show and has a very sexual character with, you know, a wardrobe – I hesitate to call a wardrobe sexual, because I don’t think clothes are inherently sexual – but Euphoria has got a style about it, right? It’s very not what the average high schooler is actually wearing. And in fact, this actress in particular has a lot of nude scenes, or sex scenes, in said show. There are– There are just a lot of sex scenes in that show in general. But this actress has been a part of many of those scenes.
Courtney: And the really vicious commentary coming out of this is kind of two dominant narratives. It’s either very slut shaming, it’s: you have big boobs, you have a small waist, you are showing off your body on this TV show, and so people are just going to be vile to her for that reason alone. Then the secondary narrative, kind of under that, is like, “Oh, poor actress, poor, rich, famous girl who’s also incredibly conventionally attractive, and hot and sexy, must be so hard for you to be so sexy.” But she was talking about this in the interview, saying that people were really focused on her body as a teen and that she did feel really ostracized for it. And sort of in parallel to that, now in her acting career, in this show in particular, she is publicly bullied and shamed for it, and so she wants to sort of dispel these misconceptions about her. Because she fully acknowledges that people will see her and think ‘blonde with big boobs’. That’s as deep as it gets with her. But as with everyone, famous or not, rich or not, everybody is a human, everyone is a person. And just the over sexualization of having large boobs is something that most people who have never had this experience don’t have a lot of empathy for, or a lot of actual knowledge about what the issues are.
Courtney: And in fact, personal experiences aside, before we get into actual real life examples of why it can, in fact, be difficult to exist in this society with large breasts, I actually have a recent study that I found very, very fascinating that I would like to talk about. The title is: ‘Women with Larger Breasts Are Less Satisfied with Their Breasts: Implication for Quality of Life and Physical Activity Participation’. Now I read that and I’m immediately like, “Yeah, I get it.” I, I know, I know where that comes from. I have personal experience to back that up. But I wonder how many people out there would be surprised or otherwise dismissive of a title like that.
Royce: I would imagine it’s a lot of people who either don’t have large breasts or haven’t been close to someone who does. I think some aspects of that are well enough understood, but I think that a lot of common understanding ends at back pain. It doesn’t go any deeper than that.
Courtney: Yeah. I mean, that’s part of it too, if we’re being honest. But the thing is, like, no matter what your breast size, like, there’s no winning, there’s no correct breast size to have that’s going to be widely accepted in this society. Because that’s just the deeply rooted misogyny in our society. But there have been people that I’ve known that have, you know, small breasts– And I don’t think anyone now at this stage in my life would say anything like this, but definitely back when I was like a teenager and I had these just like huge breasts, especially proportional to the rest of my body, and there would be people who are like, “Oh, you know, well, people have teased me for being a member of the itty bitty titty committee, so I wish I had larger breasts like yours.” It’s like all right, yeah, it can’t be fun to have people teasing you for being a member of the itty bitty titty committee, but do you know what they call me for having big breasts? They call me a fucking slut, they call me a whore. They– Like, you can be the least sexual person in the world, you can be in no relationship, you can be a virgin, you can have no desire to have any sort of sexual activity, and if you have large breasts? Doesn’t matter, you’re a slut. Like that– that was my experience. And that’s the experience of many other people that I know. So like there’s this really vicious, like, grass is always greener thing amongst people who have boobs. Like is it better to have big boobs or small boobs? Like there’s no winning. There really is not.
Courtney: And, honestly, maybe there’s some perspective I’m missing here, but I know people with smaller breasts who have been like, “Oh, I wish I had bigger boobs like you.” They haven’t factored in so many of the issues I’ve had, like shopping for bras, shopping for clothing in general. Maybe they might understand the back pain because they’ve heard someone say that, but there are just so many other things. Like you don’t know how hard it is to shop for clothes with my proportions. Like they don’t make clothes for me. But the way I see it, it’s like I try to put myself in someone else’s shoes and it’s like, yeah, maybe someone will give me the itty bitty titty committee comment now and then, but shopping is going to be a lot easier. Bras are going to be a lot cheaper. Maybe I won’t need to wear bra as often. In my dance career, everything would have been easier, literally everything. So I think there are just a lot of things that go into having a body like this that not a lot of people consider, because everything is so superficial and sexualized when it comes to boobs, especially larger ones.
Courtney: So in this breast satisfaction study, they claim in the introduction that someone who has a low breast satisfaction is very likely to be associated with a variety of negative implications to their health. And so this study aimed to sort of pinpoint what is most strongly correlated with breast satisfaction. And also how does that relate to things like physical activity, working out. They did sort of – and I think a little bit in a reductive way – they continued to say psychosocial and sexual well-being. They kind of always phrased those two things together, as if those are always going to be inherently linked, and I think that needs more fleshing out. Because being in a body that is so heavily sexualized, whether you’re asexual or not, whether you’re queer or not, regardless of what stage of life you’re in, in my experience there will come a time where you yourself will internalize, “my breasts are sexual,” whether you want them to be or not. That is something that takes a lot of time to unravel or determine what exactly that means to you, and I think that does come more from society than the person who has the boobs.
Courtney: But each of these participants, who ranged from 18 to nearly 84 years old, were given surveys about their overall breast satisfaction as well as their physical activity, and then the breasts were actually measured by volume. And, in an attempt to control for other factors, they also considered each participant’s body mass index, BMI, which I know– I know it is a terrible measurement, and I really wish we could retire it and find better ways of monitoring health in general, because BMI is not an indicator of health by any means, and many doctors and scientists recognize that it is a very flawed, antiquated system. But so much science and so much of getting your research funded and so much of getting your studies published hinges on building on previously recognized concepts, and BMI is one of the most widely accepted measurements in studies like this about bodies. It shouldn’t be, but it is, so that’s what they use. So that’s what I’m going to be saying.
Royce: Yeah, that’s a little surprising. They definitely needed another metric than just volume. But I’m kind of surprised that they didn’t do basically the standard bra measurements as a reference point to volume, like band size, bust size.
Royce: Just to try to get a proportion. Because I feel like that’s part of what they’re also looking for here, is not just objective size, like volumetric size, but also proportion.
Courtney: Right, and I don’t think that they went in specifically looking at an analyzing proportion. I think they found something interesting about proportions that I think needs to be studied more, and we’ll get to that here in a moment. But they were just trying to see: is there a pattern between something that we’re measuring versus breast satisfaction. And kind of the way it’s worded and the way it’s talking about, when factoring something like BMI, it seemed less to be about volume, period, and also trying to control for other factors like breast shape. Because with weight gain, shape of breasts can change. Because that’s something that they talk about as well as shape in relation to satisfaction. So I agree that if they were specifically looking at proportion, I think there were better ways to do it, but I don’t think they went in knowing that that was what they were looking for. But they were also trying to control for things like age, other things that might change over time and influence your own personal satisfaction.
Courtney: And this was a fair size. This is more than some studies we’ve mentioned in the past. They had 345 women total. But I will also say to your point about the band and cup size, they did want to avoid having people self-report their bra size. And that is something they specifically call out. So they thought volume was something that they could get a very clear, obvious number on. I think they could have also actually had a professional measure band and cup size, that could have been an option. But that does make sense that you wouldn’t want anyone to self-report their size, because a lot of people don’t even know how bra sizes are determined, and a majority of people are wearing the wrong size bra right now.
Royce: Yeah, that’s at least something I’m aware of. I was just thinking, well, if volume is the only thing you recorded, I could definitely see researchers cursing at the end of the study, being like, “Why didn’t we get other data to compare this to?” [Courtney laughs] Because there is definitely– I don’t know what the ideal metric is, it’s probably several, but there’s something with breast size and body size, and not only for explaining issues with activity or issues with clothing, but also issues due to social interaction.
Courtney: Mm-hmm. So the questions that they were asked for ‘what is your satisfaction?’ – which is ranging from one to four, very dissatisfied to very satisfied – the questions were: how comfortably does your bra fit; the shape of their breasts when wearing a bra; the shape of their breasts when not wearing a bra, the size of their breasts; – and here I think this one’s very key – how their breast size matches the rest of their body, and how their breasts look in clothes. They asked some quality of life questions as well, and this is where, for me, with my ace perspective on having large boobs, I think these questions fall a little flat, because this is how they scored psychosocial and sexual well-being: participants were asked to respond, with their breasts in mind, to five question items on a five point scale.
Courtney: The five point scale ranged from none of the time to all of the time, and they were asked to answer how often they felt: one, self-confident; two, normal; three, attractive; four, sexually attractive in clothes; and five, confident sexually about how their breasts look unclothed. And I think that could be really reductive, even for allosexual people. Because I think, I’d venture to guess, there are a lot of people out there who have a different level of, I guess, whatever someone would consider sexual confidence if they’re alone versus if they’re in a partnered situation. And I think that can be influenced by other social factors. And also if you feel – take question four for example – sexually attractive in clothes, is that your internal sense? That you think you look sexy. Or is that you thinking you look sexy to other people? Because I think those are also two different things a lot of the time.
Courtney: And then they responded to questions about physical activity participation, including frequency and duration, intensity. And here were the results that I found interesting: the probability of expressing dissatisfaction increased as breast volume increased. Again, that doesn’t surprise me.
Royce: Was there a particular point where that started, or was it pretty continuous?
Courtney: It’s pretty continuous. I mean, we’ll pop these in the show notes so you can see for yourself. But there are charts here and the very dissatisfied line is just, like, swoops up every single time.
Royce: Interesting. It does start a little slower but it’s going up throughout the entire report, which–
Courtney: They did not find any interaction effect between age and breast satisfaction. So this isn’t necessarily like, “You get confident as you’re older,” kind of a thing, which I think is the dominant narrative for cis women in particular. Like, “Oh, you get older and– you haven’t even peaked sexually yet,” is the thing that I hear allos say, you know? Or as you get older, you stop caring what other people think and you become more confident. Apparently not if you have big boobs, according to this study!
Courtney: So then they went to compare breast satisfaction with physical activity, and this is the line that I find really fascinating. [reading] “It has previously been established that increased breast size is associated with a decrease in physical activity participation. This effect, however, decreases as BMI increases.” So I interpret that as there is something to do with proportion going on here, or some other mysterious thing that has not been measured. But what they’re saying here with the chart, based on my own experience, as like, if you have large breasts, it can be physically painful to do some exercises if you don’t have the proper support.
Courtney: And if you have proportions that are outside of what an average store would carry, which only includes a certain spectrum of people, I can infer what’s going on there and why that effect decreases as BMI increases. Because there are people I know who might have the same breast volume I do, but might have very different proportions to me and might in fact have a higher BMI than me. So while our breasts are technically the same size, our like– to go back to bra size, our band and cup size might be completely different, and that wasn’t factored for here, and it even says that, [reading] “Therefore, while breast satisfaction and breast volume are known factors influencing physical activity behavior, it is important to acknowledge the numerous other factors that were not measured in this study that further influence physical activity behavior.” So that’s definitely a limitation of this.
Courtney: And they do take this and extrapolate that: [reading] “Results of this study provide further evidence to inform insights into physical activity behavior. For example, where a woman may find it challenging to engage in physical activity, this is likely further exacerbated due to low breast satisfaction, combined with increased discomfort through poor bra fit or musculoskeletal pain, ultimately resulting in some women avoiding physical activity.” Well, how– how satisfied are you with the fit of your bra, was literally one of the questions they asked to measure the overall satisfaction. So absolutely that is a factor here. So, given all this data they’re– in their conclusion, they make the assertion that there is a significant impact on the health and well-being of these women, as it pertains to their overall breast satisfaction, and that there is enough evidence to recommend that public health initiatives actually implement interventions to improve breast satisfaction for, you know, the entire spectrum, the entire size spectrum of breasts.
Courtney: And I don’t know what that public health initiative would look like. But I don’t see the government, like, making Victoria’s Secret cover a wider variety of sizes, you know? Companies are capitalist and they are terrible. And if they say, you know, there’s only going to be a very, very small percentage of people that buy these abnormal sizes, whether that be a band that’s bigger or smaller than the average or a cup that’s bigger than the average, they aren’t going to want to carry that because they’re trying to make as much money as possible. So let’s talk about the saga that is my personal boob journey.
Royce: Both a journey and a saga, a saga of journeys? Could it be considered an epic?
Courtney: It is. It is an epic, my epic boob tale. [laughs] And I don’t really know where to start, so I guess I’m just going to start–
Royce: At the beginning.
Courtney: At the beginning! It’s a very good place to start. So I started developing breasts around, like, age seven, and there was a brief window of time – just a brief, precious fleeting moment of time – where I was more or less oblivious to this. It wasn’t that I didn’t know that I was developing breasts, it was just that I had no understanding of how that could change anything or how I could be perceived differently or treated differently. And so this is, like, in the summer, I’m seven years old, and we had just recently sort of moved back into an old neighborhood where we had previously lived. We moved around a lot throughout my life. We were rarely in a place for longer than a year it seemed. And in this neighborhood we’d just moved back to, had my two just like best friends growing up. In fact they were my god-sisters. Their mother was my godmother, so I called them my god-sisters And they were twins, and there were large swaths of our life where we were just inseparable.
Courtney: And so after I moved back into this neighborhood I was still seeing them all the time. But now I lived here, and now it’s summer babies, so you can just ride your bike down to their house, just walk around the neighborhood, cause general childhood shenanigans, throw little poppers at cars. [laughs] Was a thing we did once.
Royce: I mean, I guess it’s better than rocks.
Courtney: Oh yeah, it wouldn’t have hurt the car at all, but oh boy, did we stop when someone actually, like, stopped, parked their car, got out and chewed us the hell out. Because we could have damaged his car, and we were like, first of all, I don’t think so, but we’re never doing this again.
Courtney: But here’s how young you can be when the amount of normativity of society can really begin to seep into you. Because you see, there were exactly three boys that lived in that neighborhood that were exactly our ages, and we were the three girls in that neighborhood. So naturally we gotta couple up. Each one of us girls gets one of those three boys. And we more or less did that. Like, I specifically remember having, like, a ring pop engagement to the boy that was deemed to be mine. Like it was silly. And thinking back on it now, it was at the time like a lot more harmless. But now, being the age I am, with the understanding I have, it’s like boy, society sure did a number on us!
Courtney: So we had these three boys that would occasionally join our group. We’d hang out, the six of us, or you know, sometimes I would just hang out with [sarcastically] my boy. And I mean those two, being twins, were rarely not together when out playing, so it was normally like all of us, or just a couple of us, or just girls over here, boys over there. And there was one day, and I don’t even really know how this came to pass– And the complicated thing is the boy who– [sarcastically] the boy who belonged to one of my twin god-sisters was actually the grandson of, like, my very first babysitter from years ago, like she started babysitting me as a toddler. So some of my first memories were being, like, at her house with her grandson that was, like, also my age. So there was like a– there was a history there. And I was just like at his grandma’s place. I don’t know where he actually lived, but his grandmother was the one that was in the neighborhood.
Courtney: And we were just in the backyard playing basketball, of all things. And I was going through a bit of a hippie phase at age seven, so I had this very like hippie flowy blouse on that I was wearing that had kind of like an elastic neckband. And my very first, like, memory of knowing that not only do I now have boobs, but other people know that I have boobs and this changes everything, was playing basketball with that boy in his grandmother’s backyard and he randomly just, like, takes the ball and grabs it. And I’m like, “What are you doing? You can’t just grab that, you have to dribble the ball. What are you doing?” And he just, like, grabs the ball and runs to, like, the corner of the house, like right up near the side of the house. And he’s like, “Hey, come here a second.” And I was like, “Okay, what’s up? Did you find a cool lizard that you want to show me?” Like, why are we going over here now? And he just basically, like, pushed me into the back corner and just, like, grabbed my neckline and just, like, pulled. And it was very elastic, very flowy, so he could just, like, pull it down. And he just started staring at my chest, and I had no idea what to do or say in this situation. I was completely unprepared.
Courtney: And I think he’s like a year older than me, so if I’m seven, he’s like eight, so still very, very young. But I was like– I kind of just, like, moved away as fast as possible and went to go grab the basketball again, and I was like, “Hey, we got to finish the game. Basketball, right?” And so we started, like, playing again. And then again he, like, grabbed the ball and he’s like, “No, come back over here.” And I was like, “I don’t want to, I want to finish the basketball game.” And he’s like, “No, just come over here real quick and then we’ll finish the game.” And not knowing what to do, I did it again, but this time, when he pulled down my shirt, he started, like, kissing and licking my boobs And then I was just like, “I need to go home. I need to leave. I don’t know what to do in this situation.” And I went home and I sat in my bedroom for hours in silence, trying to figure out how to tell my mom what just happened. Because I knew it was wrong.
Courtney: I don’t even know if I had said the word boobs before, but that was the word that I had in my head. And I was like, how do I say this word aloud for the very first time, and tell my mom, and explain to her what just happened? I was hopelessly embarrassed. And the fact that there was sort of like an escalation in like two different instances, I was blaming myself for the second time. ’Cause I was like, “You knew you shouldn’t have gone to that corner that second time.” And so it was just horrible to be like that your first memory of, “Okay, I have boobs now.” And so that’s a complicated start. And to make matters worse, just society– [mockingly] society being what it is, when I finally did, after hours, build up the courage to tell my mom what happened. She was like, “Well, we’re going to go down and talk to his grandmother.” And she brought me along. And I don’t know in the long run if that was a good or a bad thing, but she was horrified.
Courtney: She went to go talk to his grandmother. He was not in the room, but his grandmother was and I was, and my mom was talking to her saying what was happening. And, mind you, this was my former babysitter when I was like a toddler, so I looked up to her as an authority figure. And do you want to bet what she said after hearing that whole story? “Boys will be boys.”
Courtney: So that was a fun introduction to that phrase. Nothing came of it. My mom was like, “You’ve got to teach boundaries. You’ve got to– I don’t know, maybe get this kid in therapy,” like something’s got to happen, and nothing ever did, not to my knowledge. She seemed pretty adamant that boys will be boys and that’s just unavoidable. So that wasn’t great. But then I was also like, oh no, that– that boy is one of– one of– one of my god-sisters boys.
Courtney: So I wasn’t even, like, in my head thinking in terms of, like, cheating, because I don’t think that concept was super solidified in my head. Like, I knew there was something societally wrong with that, like you’d see depictions of cheating on TV all the time, so like I was aware that that’s a thing that is, in theory, you know, very, very bad. But I was more like I can’t let anyone else be around this boy anymore. Like people have to know what he did, because I can’t let this happen to anyone else. And I was also just like really kind of messed up from that for a little bit. And I didn’t know what to do. And so I wanted to both warn and get comfort from my best friends.
Courtney: And so I remember taking the twins and like my third unrelated good friend at the time, and I took them like under a playground, where people had kind of like dug out a bunch of wood chips, so there was enough room for like a small child to sit under this, this swing set kind of a thing.
Courtney: And I, like, took them under there and I was like, “I have to tell you something.” And I don’t remember how I phrased it, but I remember, again, I was like, I had to tell my mom and use these words. But I don’t know how I can bring myself to say these words again. And they were also very young, so I don’t, like, begrudge them because I didn’t know how to handle that situation, I’m sure they also didn’t. But none of them believed me, and in fact all three of them were mad at me. They were mad at me for lying about this and they, like, all stormed off in a huff, leaving me alone under this playground. And I just sat there and started crying, because what else do you do in that situation?!
Royce: Well, you say it’s hard to begrudge them because of their age, and I’m sure their age was a factor in that, but that is a story that is retold a lot, regardless of age.
Courtney: Yeah, that was only the first time something like that had happened to me. [wheezy laugh] I wish it was the last, but it wasn’t! So, after having told my mom this and I’m developing breasts very, very rapidly, that was the summer where my mom was like, “All right, I guess it’s time to, you know, get you a bra.” And we went bra shopping at garage sales, which are, you know, a great place to get your very first bra as a seven year old! No, it wasn’t, it was terrible. We got a bunch of, you know, bras for a dime that were all different shapes and sizes, and some of them I don’t think I’ve ever seen a boob that would fit in the shape it was. Like, I’m still to this day like, “Who was that bra made for?” I don’t understand. It was awful. One of them was close enough that it almost kind of did something. So I wore that for a little bit.
Courtney: And then the school year rolls around and you have gym class, and you have locker rooms where you’re, you know, changing in with all the other girls. And I was the only one who had a bra. And having already been made so aware, so violently, so early, of what it could mean for me to live in this society with boobs, to then go to school and be like, “I’m kind of alone in this right now. There are not other girls in this dressing room who are wearing bras. I am the only one whose body is starting to develop in this way.” So then the school year kind of passes. I make do with what I have for very, you know, shoddy bras. Maybe there was another round of garage sale shopping for bras. We were quite poor. So I think, even if my mother thought it was time to go to, like, a proper bra store, like that was not in the cards at the time. And I was a dancer at this time, I had been even long before this. So to parallel the being the only girl in a locker room with a bra, I was also, you know, wearing a leotard in front of a huge mirror in a room with a bunch of other girls and just noticing my body changing faster than anyone else. And that was really uncomfortable.
Courtney: And then I did start getting back strain. And so I started doing this, like, weird shrugging thing with my shoulders, like while I was dancing. A combination of like my back hurting and my other joints hurting from my actual, like, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, other joint issues that were already there. But around this period of time, occasionally if I was in a competition or in a recital, like, my mom would catch me, like, shrugging my shoulders and I wouldn’t even notice that I was doing it. But like, I know she was trying to be helpful, but she’d tell me about it after, and she’d be like you have to stop doing that. So that was, like, such a weird, like, “Oh no, added stress and pressure about this thing,” which was like almost exclusively coming from a combination of pain and insecurity. And now I’m like, “Great, it’s affecting my dance performance! Which is the thing I care most about in this entire world right now.”
Courtney: Just to add a little more fuel to the fire, and also because of dance, at this time, I would occasionally have to attend, like, a formal banquet, so we’d have to get, like, a formal dress. But we were all so poor, so it was like let’s go to the consignment shop and whatever formal dress fits you is the one we’re going with. And we got this formal dress and it was – I remember it vividly – it was floor length, it was lime green, but it had very thin shoulder straps. And I remember it so vividly because everyone was like, “Oh my gosh, green’s your color because you have olive skin.” They’re like, “You are the only one who could pull off wearing green like this because of your olive skin.” It’s like, [hesitantly] “Okay.” But it was around this period of time where I got deeply uncomfortable wearing small straps, like I wanted my shoulders covered. And I felt like if my shoulders were covered then I could somehow hide the fact that I was starting to develop breasts.
Courtney: And wearing this dress with these tiny straps, I was like, “How am I going to wear my bra in this?” And my grandmother said, “Oh well, a dress like this, you don’t actually wear a bra.” And I was mortified. I was like, “How can I wear this without a bra? What are you telling me?” And I did end up wearing that dress without a bra, but it was so uncomfortable. Because I already felt like, “I need to cover these. These need to be covered. I need to wear a bra. I shouldn’t have my shoulders bare.” All these things. And I was still way too young to have had those thoughts. I mean, nobody should have those thoughts, but I was young. And it was not too long after that that finally it was like, “All right, you’ve grown very, very quickly, we need to get you a real bra and probably a padded one.”
Courtney: And that’s when I was taken to Victoria’s Secret for the first time, and it was like, “They are going to measure you, we’ll know your exact size and we’ll walk out of here with a bra that fits you perfectly.” And when I walked into that Victoria’s Secret, they measured me and said, “We don’t have a bra for you, we don’t carry that size. Your band is too small and your cup is too big. We don’t carry cups that big and we don’t have bands that small. So none of these are going to work for you.” So that was a little discouraging.
Courtney: I don’t know what– I probably had, like, a Walmart bra that was like the biggest cup that they had, where the band was still probably too big for me, but it was closest thing I could find, you know. So, I don’t think I ever had a properly fitted bra until I was an adult. [wheezy laugh] For reasons like that, which is– You know, also recently we talked about Barbie and how, while body image is an issue and, especially eating disorders and societal expectations for unrealistic beauty standards, definitely, definitely issues, Barbie has sort of perhaps even unfairly become like the target of that animosity. And that, like, to blame. Like Barbie is the reason for all of these things. Like no, it’s not just Barbie, there are so many other things. I’ll be curious if, in a few years from now, there’s more discourse about like Victoria’s Secret being the enemy of body image, because there was already sort of an upheaval with the Victoria’s Secret angels, the models, so that was already present. But then that– I mean, there was a song that blew up on TikTok and it got big enough on TikTok that it is on the radio about Victoria’s Secret. And it’s kind of about Victoria’s Secret but it’s not about Victoria’s Secret because it’s about body image.
Courtney: But Victoria’s Secret is the method for telling that story. And one of the lines in that song is selling skin and bones with big boobs. And I’m like the boobs can’t be that big. Like I don’t– I don’t know, I don’t know. The Victoria’s Secret, like, models, the traditional angels that you think of, that are this very not diverse line of bodies. Like yes, they are skinny and they do have some breasts, they aren’t completely flat-chested, but size in terms of ‘is it big?’ is kind of relative, you know?
Royce: Well, if you think about public perception of breast size, there’s an anomaly in American cup sizes, where it’s alphabetical, and then you get to double-D.
Courtney: And triple D. Yes. [laughs]
Royce: Double-D and triple-D which is– I mean, a double-D is an E cup, a triple-D is an F cup, but for some reason four inches difference from bust size to band size is where people check out.
Courtney: Yeah, it’s– It’s weird. Because, yeah, also, even the line skins– like ‘skin and bones with big boobs’ is again saying that this is an aspirational yet unattainable body ideal. But there were a number of years where that really was legitimately just what my body looked like naturally. And I could not shop at Victoria’s Secret!
Royce: Yeah, you have made a comment once or twice before when we were watching some anime shows, that if you wanted to cosplay or dress up as a figure that was actually your proportions, you basically have to, like, pick an anime character.
Courtney: Yes! Oh, I kid you not– And I’m going a little out of order for the timeline here, but– And this was even now, after I have gained a little more weight. Because there was a period of time where I did– I couldn’t have explained my body to you, but you could see my ribs if you were looking at the side of my rib cage, you could see all my ribs and I still had huge boobs. I don’t know how. I didn’t try. That was just what my body did. But now, as an adult, when I have filled out more places, I gain– Well, you know, I married you and I got happy and then I gained a bunch of weight. It’s interesting how that happens. But we were watching Cells At Work! when I– when I made a recent comment. Because there is, I think, in the second season or a spinoff season, the white blood cells are all women with really big boobs and like a low cut jacket.
Royce: Yeah, that was Cells At Work! Code Black.
Courtney: Yes, Code Black! And so I was watching this and I was like, you know, I bet the average person would look at that and think that is an unattainable body, this is just an anime exaggerating proportions. But I was like, literally, I should cosplay that white blood cell because that is my body. And then there was also a period of time where I started playing League of Legends and playing with some other local people. And this is probably– like this had to be 2012.
Courtney: The original artwork for the character Morgana, she’s like this fallen angel, she’s got this purple hair, she is so skinny, you can see her collarbone, you can see her ribs, but she’s also got these big boobs with these big, like, cups. And I had that color of hair at that time, before I started playing League of Legends. And so when I sat down to, like, play my first game and I’m looking at the champions, I was like, “Oh my God! I am her, I look like her. That is what my body looks like. And that is my hair color.”
Courtney: And they’ve changed her artwork since then, so I don’t know how similar the body proportions are. I think they’ve covered her torso more. She used to have like a two piece on, so you could actually like see her stomach and– and ribs. But at that time I was like, “Well, shoot, I should cosplay Morgana, because I already look like that.” I never did.
Courtney: But going back to sort of just this timeline now where I don’t really fit any of the bras at Victoria’s Secret, I found halfway passable bras somewhere else that were still a little ill fitting but they were at least padded. And that was really the period of time where now shopping for clothes is an ordeal. It doesn’t matter if it is casual clothes, it doesn’t matter if it is formal clothes. Now shopping for clothes is a problem. Because I was also simultaneously starting to get hips. I maintained a pretty proportional hourglass figure. And so, like jeans had started to get difficult to wear. This was also during a period of time where, like, low rise jeans were really really popular. And no, those– those do not work on this body.
Courtney: But then there’s also like, how do I wear a shirt that fits these breasts, that doesn’t just look like I’m wearing a potato sack. Because if I was wearing even a t-shirt, if it was big enough to fit my breasts, it’s like it’s just hanging off the rest of my body. And despite not having any, any sexual motivation for it, it’s like I still wanted to look aesthetically nice. And so what I found – we’ll say like going into age 11 – I found what worked for me. First of all, slacks fit me so much better than jeans, and there was a specific type of shirt that was a v-neck – so there was enough like extra room for the breasts – and it was sort of like ruching around the middle so that you could still see that I have a figure of some kind to speak. And so I was straight up like going into middle school wearing, like, office business casual every single day.
Courtney: That was how I dressed in middle school. It was probably very goofy, because it was also– I would have these v-neck blouses that I thought were very comfortable, just with the bra and the blouse, and I would wear that outside of school. If I was, you know, going to a movie with friends, if I was just hanging out, if my grandmother and I were ever going out to, like, see a play or something. I’d wear them just alone, with this v-neck.
Courtney: But I was told in no uncertain terms immediately that that is inappropriate and you can’t wear that to school. Well, these are some of the only shirts that I find that I like that fit me and are comfortable at this time. So I had to start wearing, like, camis underneath it, just like a little lacy tank top underneath, to cover up my cleavage. And so that was– I was just incredibly business casual throughout, like, all of middle school. Because I found a style of clothes that fit me more often than other styles of clothes. And I just stuck with it. Which was also pretty goofy because in middle school, I was now, like, hanging out with the Goths and the punks and the rockers. The ones who, like, actually had parents that would let them wear clothes like that at that age. And then it was like them and then business casual Courtney. [laughs]
Royce: You were the manager for the band.
Courtney: Ah! No! Not the manager for the band! Royce, how could you?
Royce: How often did you carry a clipboard?
Courtney: I didn’t! But I always had a purse. I’d already developed my need to have a purse with me.
Royce: Did you have a, like, a three ring binder in school?
Courtney: Yes… And you may leave now. But, boy, I’ll tell you, for as difficult as it was to find a halfway passable padded bra, I was not ready for the final boss that was a strapless bra. Because I still had these formal, you know, awards banquets that I had to go to. And I found this beautiful strapless dress and I thought, “Okay, I’m going to do it, I’m going to wear a strapless dress. But how am I going to wear a bra with it?!” And so I literally just, like, took the bra straps and, like, tucked them in. And that’s what I did. Because I tried shopping for a strapless bra and it wasn’t going to happen, not at my size at that period of time. Mm-mm. But that was also the first time shopping for that dress where I was struggling to find a breast, that– [sighs] to find a breast? To find a dress that could fit my breasts, and also still fit my waist. I kind of found one that worked.
Courtney: And despite all of this being utterly miserable and not really knowing how to easily or comfortably dress my body, there were certain things that were telling me, like, this is still a good thing. Because then, like, a photo of me in that dress, like, got me entered into the Miss Teen USA pageant. Like that– that dress was my audition dress, wearing that. So in just, like, very weird double standards. Because, oh, I can’t just wear something comfortable at school because it’s inappropriate, but if I cram my breasts into this dress that fits my waist but is a little small for the breasts, and if I wear a bra that’s ill fitting but I tuck the straps in, and you know, do all this makeshifting, then… Then, you know, you can be in a pageant, you can represent your state in this national competition. And it was– It was just a very weird combination of things. And I don’t know that I necessarily have too much of note for, like, my years in middle school for specific stories, just general: That’s how I existed for a while.
Courtney: Back pain did start getting worse, though, and I did actually have a doctor recommend that I start wearing a back brace, which was– [sighs] that was a whole thing. Because if I was wearing a back brace, it was also so much more obvious. Like it wasn’t fully a corset, but it was making it more obvious that my breasts were significantly larger than my waist. And so I was like, “Well, I’m supposed to do this, and it does make my back feel better. So I’ll just do this.” But that was a very uncomfortable aspect of it. And then! I stopped wearing my back brace because of the creepy janitor in middle school who also wore a back brace and would just, like, pop up and say creepy things to me, or, like, grab me around the waist. And when I reported him to the office, because I did that, nothing happened again. So, way to reconfirm that telling people when, you know, things happen that nobody’s going to care and nothing’s going to matter. It was pretty wild. Because I was pretty regularly in like all of the extracurricular activities, like literally all of them, more than they would have actually allowed me to do. Like if they said you can be in a total of two of these three things, I’d be like, “No, I’m going to do all three of those things.”
Courtney: So there were periods of time where I’d be, like, coming back to school after going to, like, put on a show in the middle of the school day, and I’d be walking to class with– with a friend who was also in that activity. And the first time this janitor got so weird, my friend was just like giving me a really weird look while I was at my locker. That was like, “Hurry up, hurry up. We got to get back to class.” And I just turned around and I said, “Don’t look at me like that.” And then the janitor just, like, came out of nowhere from around the corner and, in the skeeziest way you can possibly imagine, just said, “Can I look at you like that?” And both of us– just like huge eyes. We just stared at each other in shock and horror, and did not look away from each other because we were like, “What do we do?” And we just stared at each other like that in silence until this janitor left. And then when I came to school in a back brace, at one point that janitor, who was also wearing a back brace, came up to me and, just like, both hands on my waist, grabbed me around my waist, touching my back brace, being like, “Look! We match.” And I was like, [frustrated groan] It was so icky! It was so, so, so icky. So that’s fun… I don’t know how much of that is directly boob related or if it’s just all of everything, you know.
Courtney: But going into high school was a weird one, because I joined the marching band. And that first year we would have spat camp. And that would be in the middle of summer, blazing heat, bright sun, all day, every day, while we learn our music and our marching routine. And that first year – and this had been the precedent for quite some period of time – the guys were allowed to go shirtless if they wanted to and us ladies were allowed to just wear a sports bra if we wanted to. And I do not do well with heat. I have never done well with heat. I might quite literally be allergic to the heat, in fact. But anything I could do to keep cool, like, camelback water bottle on my back, put ice in there, refill the ice at lunch. Anything I could do. So I was like, “Of course, I’m going to wear just a sports bra and short shorts to this, because I need to not die.” And the issue was I couldn’t find a sports bra that both fit and also seemed to have enough support. So what I actually ended up doing, I would wear my regular bra and then I got two different sports bras to put over my regular bra, and that was how I went to spat camp, for that first year.
Courtney: And spat camp was a weird thing because, with my ancestry and skin tone, I don’t sunburn, but I have the potential to get very, very dark very quickly with sun. And that year– That’s something I knew about myself and had known since childhood. Very obvious thing about me. But I wasn’t prepared for that year of spat camp. Because the way I had this hourglass figure, I had the world’s weirdest tan lines. I had just like an arch of just, like, dark brown hips just over my hips in an arch dark brown because my waist wasn’t actually getting any direct sun because my boobs were sheltering it. And that got really weird really fast, and a bunch of people were really fascinated with all of my weird tan lines. So it was like a topic of conversation where people would talk about, like, my hip tan and just the contrast of, like, how dark I would get after even just a day or two. They’d be like, “How…? How is this part of your skin so much darker compared to this one?” And that was weird. Because I was like, I don’t want to have these particular tan lines. No one on the face of this Earth has ever had these tan lines. I was convinced of it at the time. You know, you hear about farmers tan in the Midwest where it’s like your– where your t-shirt hits you. No, I don’t even know what you would call this tan line. It was just utter nonsense.
Courtney: We’d also wear– We could only wear tennis shoes, or we could wear a specific type of, like, sports sandal or like a hiking sandal that, like, crisscrossed all across your feet. They were Chacos, for anyone familiar with them. So– And that was new. That was like– Before you could only wear tennis shoes. But they’re like, “This year we’re announcing that you can also wear Chacos.” And I was like great, anything to not have like hot, heavy socks and tennis shoes on my feet. And the Chacos that I got had a toe strap for the big toe, not all of them do. And instead of just one thick strap they were two tiny straps. And so I had, for like the remainder of the year after spat camp, this deep, deep tan line of these, this pattern of these Chacos just crisscrossing all over my feet. And that was another point of fascination, was my Chaco tan.
Courtney: But that very first year was the last one that they let us go shirtless. After that they were like, “New dress code. You have to wear a shirt.” And I hated it. I don’t know why they made that rule, but there’s almost no chance it was actually because of me, but I remember people getting, like, so distracted by my tan lines and everything, that I was like, “I’m sure of it, they’re changing this dress code because of me.” Although that’s silly and the band was huge, so I’m sure that’s not the case, but it felt like just another, like, pointed dress code decision. Like I couldn’t wear the same thing other girls were wearing at other points in my school career, because I had boobs and they didn’t. So I was like, of course, the first year I’m in the band they changed the dress code!
Courtney: But then there was also just the matter of our uniforms. Which– normally getting fit for a uniform was not that big of a deal, because you’d just go on, you’d try on a couple of jackets and see which one fit you. And it was normally just like volunteer parents that would be there helping you do that. And for everyone else it was very quick in and out, five, ten minutes. For me, I would have like three band moms over me for an hour trying to figure out just how to dress me. Because there wasn’t any give to this material. They were made straight. But what I would need for a top that would fit my breasts actually had like– It was such a strong, sturdy fabric that there was like a huge gap from the jacket to my pants underneath it. And it looked bad and wrong. And everything was kind of just, like, one size. Like there is a pair of pants that goes with the jacket, and you weren’t, like, really supposed to mix them up. But then it got to a point where they’re like, “Well, we’re going to have to mix it up for you somehow. We’re going to have to give you a different, you know, size of pants to then a different size jacket.”
Courtney: And there was one year they actually did end up, like, kind of very lightly altering my uniform for me which they never did for anyone because they never needed to do for anyone. But they were like, “Yeah, this, this looks silly on you.” So that also didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel good to be the only one that can’t find a marching band uniform that looks uniform.
Courtney: And, of course, going into high school, my dance training really ramped up. I was dancing a lot more, I was competing a lot more. And it was getting increasingly difficult to get dance costumes for me. Because normally you just get your measurements and pick what size fits you, but I would have a waist that would be like a size small and then they’d measure my chest. It’s like, “Okay, well, based on your chest size, you need an extra extra large. What do we do with this?” Normally they would try to just, like, take my highest size and my lowest size and try to split it right down the middle and just hope for the best. But nearly every time it ended up being that a friend’s mom would have to alter it for me after it came in. And so that was a constant, like, battle.
Courtney: And there was a time, I kid you not, where I was wearing a uniform or a costume – a dance costume – that I couldn’t wear a bra with because of just the shape and the cut, I couldn’t wear a bra. So I was like, all right, just gonna hope for the best. And like, I did a jump and my boobs smacked me in the face! And those things are heavy! So I was like, I have to keep these down somehow. What do I do with this? And then, even on things where I could still wear some kind of a bra, just the increased speed, the increased difficulty of the dances we were doing, it was really, really starting to be very, very painful if my boobs were not just pinned down to my chest. And you know, I kind of wish at the time that there was as much education as there is now about chest binders, because I know what I was doing at the peak of my dance career was not safe. But I had to get innovative, and nobody could even really tell me what to do. Even, you know, older dancers or professional dancers in my life are like, “I’ve never had boobs. I’ve always been flat-chested. So I don’t know what to tell you.” And no one really could.
Courtney: So my mother had had a series of back surgeries starting in middle school, and so she had these like surgical compression socks to prevent blood clots in your legs. And so I cut the feet off of those basically. And, mind you, this is supposed to be for a leg, this is supposed to compress a leg. But I was like, “This is going to be my new bra now, because it can be strapless and it can really really suck me in.” So I would pull this compression sock all the way up over my boobs in a process that, like, took an hour. It was not easy. I’d be, like, shimmying to get it all the way up, but once I got it up over my boobs, finally, then I could take the length of it at the bottom and roll it up and double it up. So then I had like two layers of compression socks around my boobs. And then I’d take the second sock and I would do that again. So I had like four layers of compression socks over my boobs. And then I’d put on my dance costume. Couldn’t breathe particularly well, but I already had a really bad habit of not breathing enough while I was dancing, so I was like, “This will be fine, who needs air!” It is a wonder that I never ended up cracking a rib or irreparably damaging myself in some other way. Because I did this for a couple of years. That was my method. That was my pre-dance competition or recital ritual, was shimmying into these compression socks.
Courtney: And this whole time– I mean we talk about unattainable body aspirations and we talk about people in Hollywood that have had extensive plastic surgeries to have the face and or figure that they have. This entire time, for years, starting in middle school and then all throughout high school, I just could not understand why I could not find a bra. Because I would see some very skinny celebrities that did have big boobs and I was like, “Where are they getting their bras? Surely a bra exists.” And I mean it’s all money. It is money, and having people that dress you, and having designers, and being able to custom make things, which I did not have access to in the time and place and tax bracket that I was in. But it was just a constant source of frustration that, like, surely someone out there can help me. Someone should be able to help me with this problem, because you have to get dressed every single day. You live with your boobs 24/7, so this is an everyday battle if you need something to support you for pain and comfort, and you just can’t find anything that fits right.
Courtney: And there was even one day, where I was driving around, I was a nanny at the time, and I saw this sign when I was picking up the baby from daycare, right before the kids got home. So I like, get baby strapped up in the car seat in the back, and I’m driving back to, you know, the house where they all live. And I see this random yard sign. It was the kind of sign that you’d expect to have like a garage sale, like a very cheap, just flimsy sign, but it said custom bras. And I was like, “Fascinating.” It had a phone number. I pulled over on the side of the road and I wrote down that phone number. And I called and a woman answered the phone and was like, “Yup, we do custom bras, let’s schedule you for a fitting.” And the fitting was literally just at that house. So I just showed up at that person’s house. And it was a pretty big house, it was a pretty nice house, it was a wealthy neighborhood. And she’s just like, “Yes, hello, come in, let’s go down to the basement.”
Courtney: And we go down into this mostly unfinished basement, that’s sort of like half blocked off, with just like racks and racks and racks of bras. And I walked down there and I’m like, “Okay…” And she was like, “Okay, so what kind of bra do you need?” And so I regaled her with my tale of bra woes. And I was like, “Please, can you help me?” And she was like, “100%, I can help you.” So I was like, “All right.” And she was like, “Well?” And just, like, looked at me expectantly. And I was like, “Well, what?” And she was like, “Take off your shirt, let’s get started.” And I was like, “Oh, okay.” So I took off my shirt and she was like, “Bra too.” And I was like, “Just– out in the– you just want me to…?” And she was like, “Yeah, just take it off.” So I was like, “Okay.” I’m in this residential house in a basement with a stranger, and she’s like, “Take off your bra, let’s get started.” So I did. I took off my bra and I felt horribly uncomfortable. I was unprepared for it. And she, like, takes my measurements and she’s like, “I think I’ve got something for you.” She goes over to all these racks of bras, and she takes a bra out that’s unlike any bra I have ever seen firsthand. And she’s like, “Great, let me put this on for you.” And so she dresses me, she puts this bra on me.
Courtney: But let me paint a picture. Once the strap was fastened around my ribs, there was just like a triangular patch of, like, silk fabric that had a great big hole through the middle. And she just, like, grabbed my boob and just pulled it through this hole and then does the strap up and does it on the other side. So now I have like my boobs sticking out of these just holes And I have no idea what’s going on. And then she’s got like this second layer of fabric that’s, like, fixed by, like, buttons that then went over my boobs after they had gone through this. And I kid you not, this was a bullet boob bra. This was like the pointiest Madonna-ass bra you have ever seen in your life. And with my boobs as big as they were, they were pointing straight out. And she was like, “Perfect fit, what do you think?” [wheezy laugh] And I was like, “This is– I don’t know. This is a lot to process.” Clearly, I was desperate, but I was like, “Oh, is this the style that you recommend for me?” Just trying to be as polite as possible. And she’s like, “Oh, yes, this is the only style that I sell.” And I was like, “Oh, is that so? Why that decision?” And she’s like, “Really, this is the best type of bra. It gives you the best figure, the most comfort, the best support.” And I was like, “Is that so?”
Courtney: And at this point I’m just like I just need to figure out how to get out of this situation. And she’s like, “Why don’t you put your shirt back on and see how it looks?” And if I thought I looked ridiculous only wearing this bra in front of the mirror, when I put this shirt on, and I have these massive– At the time, by the way, I had recently been actually measured for a modeling contract, and they told me that I was technically a 26L. Was my technical official size at the time, mind you.
Courtney: So I have my big pointy L boobs going straight out. And when I put my shirt back on, I was like, “This is a nightmare. This looks like the corniest, cheesiest, campiest, like Drag Queen you’ve ever seen that’s trying to have the weirdest breastplate out there.” But they were actually my boobs! And it was just so accented. When I put my shirt back on, I was like, “I cannot be seen in public like this.” And yet this woman was like, “That looks so good! And doesn’t that feel so much better than the bra that you came in with? Because it’s your right fit.” And I was like, “What is this…? What is this…? What is this…?”
Royce: So I understand that, even if it was super comfortable, that was not going to happen. But what did it actually feel like compared to other bras?
Courtney: Weird. Because my boobs were through a hole of fabric. [laughs] And then there was a second swatch of fabric that came over it And the hole was, like, a little small so it could compress and squeeze your boob and push it straight forward. And I was like, “Yeah, I understand that bullet bras are a thing, but people think of it as a thing from the past.” And I had never seen anyone wearing a bullet bra, at least not with boobs this size. Like– [laughs] and I was like, who is this woman that sells bullet bras out of her unfinished residential basement?
Royce: The one person trying to keep 50s-era style alive.
Courtney: Apparently! [wheezy laugh] and it was just like, I mean, if you see old photos of like, even Marilyn Monroe with pointy boobs, like her boobs were significantly smaller than mine. So I don’t know how I can fully articulate to you exactly how astonishingly dramatic and huge and pointy these were. And so, just trying to figure out how to get out of this situation, I was like, “I don’t even know what to do about this.” So I was like, “Yeah, wow, it really does fit, uh?” I was like, “How much is it?” And I don’t remember how much she told me, I was already at this point– even for ill-fitting bras, they were still very expensive, very, very expensive. And so I don’t know what she said, but whatever she said, I was like, “Well! That’s too rich for my blood! Sorry to waste your time, gotta get going!” And just like immediately rushed out of this house as fast as I possibly could.
Courtney: And then, of course, in my car on the way home, I’m like what were you expecting, Courtney? You wrote down a phone number from a yard sign that said custom bras, and you followed someone into their basement and took off your shirt and bra in front of them, just because they asked. Like this was– Something weird was bound to happen there, right? Like, I didn’t know that this was the brand of weird that was gonna happen, but there was nothing normal about that situation. And so at that point I was like, “Well, I’m just going to resign myself to a life of ill-fitting bras for the rest of eternity.”
Courtney: And you know, the strange thing too, because my mom knew and kind of sensed that I was really, really uncomfortable with my boobs as a preteen and teenager. And so a couple of times she kind of lightly approached me, not really knowing what to say or how to say it, but kind of asking or nudging me to find out if I wanted to actually have a breast reduction surgery. And that was a weird one for me. Because by many accounts, it would have made my life a lot easier. I was a teenager and I don’t know how my mom thought we were ever in a million years going to have been able to afford that, even if it was possible. But I was also at the time, despite having such a major issue with my boobs and the fact that it got me a lot of unwanted sexual attention– Because even though I don’t have personal stories that I want to necessarily share right now about like being a teenager with this body, there was a lot of hypersexualization, and there were a lot of unwanted comments, unwanted attention, a lot of sexual harassment. It was not easy. So then that was kind of the period of time where people with flatter chests might be like, “Oh yeah, well, I wish I had bigger boobs.” And then I’d be like, “You don’t… You won’t be able to have a marching band uniform that fits and your back is going to hurt all of the time, and your shoulders are going to hurt, and you’ll never find a bra that fits, and you’ll be in a strange lady’s basement trying on bullet bras.”
Courtney: And I don’t really know how to measure, nor do I think I really have a desire to measure, like, quantity of sexual harassment, but I feel like I, as a person, have gotten an above average amount of sexual harassment, and instances of sexual assault. I do believe that. I think there are actually studies that back it up. If I look up, like, averages and numbers, I think it is above average for me. I don’t know how much of that has to do with what my body looks like in this society. I’m sure maybe a little bit. But I think there’s also potentially a chance that the fact that I’m neurodivergent, I think, I logic away a lot of signs that a situation is uncomfortable or potentially unsafe. Which I think to an extent a lot of people are sort of socialized to do, like to not make a fuss, to be a people pleaser, things of that nature. So I don’t know how many factors of things it is that has to do with me, but the fact that so many aggressive instances like that of harassment and assault were also just ever present in my life, while I’m trying to grapple with what it’s like to live in this body, and trying to figure out how to learn to love my body, despite the fact that clothes don’t fit me, bras don’t fit me, everything is harder, everything is more expensive, and pain associated with it. All of these things just trying to make myself love my body and then getting all this unwanted sexual attention, as an asexual person who didn’t want any of that, period!
Courtney: Really did just sort of ingrain in me this concept that your boobs are sexual. I knew I didn’t want them to be. I knew I thought they shouldn’t be. But everybody at every turn told me that they were. And so then you have to grapple with: I am an asexual person, but there is something fundamentally sexual about the way that I look, the way that my body naturally is. That is– That takes a lot of years of untangling, that takes a lot of work, and a lot of unraveling of internal biases, and radical self-love. Because then there’s also a gender role component of it too, where you’re told not only is this an inherently sexual part of you, but this is an inherently feminine part of you.
Courtney: And I’ve told the story before that when I was a child, before developing breasts, younger child than even then, I made this, like, pie chart of gender, where I’m like 50% boy, 50% girl and I’m like, “No, let’s add a third something in there.” 25% boy, 25% girl, 50% other. Like that was my internal gender pie chart as a very young child.
Courtney: And then developing these breasts, being told they are sexual and they are feminine, and you are a woman now, and part of being a woman is being sexual. There’s a lot to unpack there… There is so much to unpack there. Because, as an asexual person, how can I learn to love my body, how can I learn to love my boobs if they are fundamentally viewed as a sexual object? Let me tell you, it can be done. It is not easy to do if you grow up with those experiences or anything vaguely resembling them. It is not easy to do.
Courtney: And the weird thing is, despite having all these issues with them, I didn’t want surgery. And it was kind of twofold. I think there was a nugget of conservativism in me that I don’t have anymore. I think there was a nugget of like, “My body was made this way and I need to embrace it.” Like surgical intervention would be a lie and not real. I think there was a little nugget in there where that was going to steer me away from any sort of surgical intervention.
Courtney: But there was also an even stronger part of me that was like, “I need to learn how to love this part of myself. I need to do this for me. I need to figure out what my boobs mean to me, and not what they mean only in relation to how other people are perceiving them.” And it was difficult and it was a challenge. And it was kind of a challenge to myself, because I was like, “Right now I do not love my breasts, and I don’t know how I ever will, because everything about them makes life more difficult for me.” But I just felt like I had to do it. And so I was vehemently opposed to breast reduction, which is interesting to think about now, because I have made a peace with my boobs and I have made peace with, in my case, hyper femininity. Like, high fem is me. I love a high fem aesthetic. And I will say, very often boobs can lend themselves to that aesthetic. So aesthetically, I can work with them for my own aesthetic desires.
Courtney: But all these things – gender, and sexuality, and being sexualized, and having the body that I had – I think all of those were so messy and tangled in on one another, that I sort of needed all of these components for my own separate journey, to be able to separate them out and understand what it is that I needed in the long term. And I don’t know if I didn’t have that nugget of conservativism in me at the time, if I would have just been like, “Yes, chop them off, let’s get them gone, this will make my life easier.” Maybe that would have happened and maybe I would have still been fine with that. I don’t know, because I didn’t go down that path. And I honestly think that my journey to embracing my boobs, and being able to love them on my own terms, and separate what they mean to me from what the rest of society perceives from them, really paralleled and went side by side with my journey to embracing asexuality. Because I have always been more comfortable with asexuality from the get-go than I was with my boobs, because my boobs was a much more fraught journey.
Courtney: Once I started calling myself ace, I was like, “Yes, this is what I am.” And I was very confident that that was what I was. But just being confident in my own label did not necessarily mean that I knew how to interact with others in a way that was fully and authentically me, in my ace experience. And a lot of that came from people pleasing, a lot of that came from just sort of, well, like, lots of people are going to be sexually attracted to me and any romantic partner I might take on is probably going to be sexually attracted to me. So what does this mean? And I wasn’t ever comfortable with people being sexually attracted to me. Even if they were a partner of mine, that was like the worst part of it. I was like, “I don’t want to perceive that you are attracted to me.” Loses a lot of the emotional spark for me when I do perceive that.
Courtney: And so sort of learning how to love my boobs on my own terms for what they are and what they can mean to me, and what they can look like as a natural body part, as an aesthetic, what have you, and separating that from the societal expectation, was really the same path I had to kind of travel to say, “Yes, I am asexual. This is something I like about myself and I embrace about myself.”
Courtney: But I still had a layer of needing to separate the societal expectation and still just be ace on my own terms, without needing to sacrifice or compromise any parts of myself for either a partner, or the male gaze, or any of these things that we still grapple with in society. But I did ultimately manage to do that.
Courtney: There was still a period of time before I would find a bra that fit. But then I met you. And we got married, and I think we were living together for three months before you ever saw me without a shirt, so that lady in the basement trying to sell me a bullet bra was like three months ahead of you [laughs] on seeing my boobs. Oh, that’s a funny framing of that story I haven’t considered yet. But that’s pretty beside the point. Actually, where I was getting at was I moved down to Kansas City and it was the best move I’ve ever made in my life, combination of moving down here and marrying you.
Courtney: So many things in my life just opened up in a very beautiful, positive way, and one of those was the local bra store here. There is a local bra shop where everybody who works there is a seamstress. They carry all sizes, unusual sizes, big sizes, small sizes, really big sizes! They carry all of it. But everybody who works there is also a seamstress, and if they don’t have something that fits you perfectly, they alter it for you for free, right there in the store, before you walk out with your bag. And they have a shop cat. We love a good shop cat.
Courtney: It was a miracle! It was nothing short of a miracle. And I was like, “This is what I’ve been looking for my entire life!” They found a bra that was very close to suitable for me. It did need a little bit of altering, but they’re like, “We’ll just whip that up real quick here for you, here, go pet our cat while we’re sewing this for you.” And you can shoot the breeze with them, like their sewing machine is just out in the open, so you can just have a conversation while they’re fixing up your bra for you.
Royce: And, if I remember correctly, usually the alterations were just you find a cup size that fits and then they alter the band.
Royce: Because, if I remember the measurements right, to keep the same volume, if you go up a band size you decrease a cup size.
Royce: So, like a 32C is the same volume as a 30D. Courtney hates measuring, so when we were trying to figure out– [Courtney laughs] figure this stuff out, I had to figure out measuring.
Courtney: Yeah, I mean, they start by measuring band size and then each, like, inch larger from the band the cup is, that goes up a cup size. So, yeah, they would find a cup that fit me and then they’d be able to alter the band to take it down low enough for me. And a couple of times they made some light alterations on just, like, the shape of something and where it was hitting me on, either my ribs or closer to the cup. And to make it even better, it really wasn’t that expensive by comparison to other bras that I had been buying previously. So it was just everything perfect, love it, 10 out of 10. Every city needs one. Every city needs one of these! It is the most miraculous thing, so.
Courtney: But then, you know, I mean, despite that, and that had me feeling very comfortable and happy for a while, because I had not only bras that fit, but they were cute. That was another thing. You could get like lacy bras, things with patterns, things with, like, matching underwear. And you know a lot of people see that as a sexual thing, I just think it’s aesthetic and also just– I just want to feel kind of cute, you know?
Courtney: And with the bras that I had to buy beforehand. They were so big and they were so expensive and they weren’t cute or pretty like the smaller cup sizes. They were just like– I could get a beige one. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t cute.
Courtney: So I was like, oh my gosh, now I have bras that fit and they’re cute and I have a variety of styles! What is this? A variety of styles, even? Just absolutely beautiful. So they took very good care of me for a while, but I haven’t even really been wearing those for a while. I mean, first of all, pandemic, haven’t left the house in three years, so I’m not always wearing clothes or doing activities that do necessitate a bra for me. But about maybe, I don’t know, half a year before the pandemic started, I ordered the most miraculous thing. It’s called Misses Kisses.
Royce: After you were getting relentless advertisements on Facebook?
Courtney: Was that? I knew I got advertised to them. Was I still on Facebook at that time? That could be. And I was like, “Surely this– this is too good to be true!” But they build it as a frontless, backless and strapless bra. And I was like, how? And it’s– I kid you not, it is perfect. I love mine with a burning, fiery passion. And in fact, I would like to order a different shape too. Because– I got it because I had this very witchy, vampy dress with a deep, plunging v-neck that goes, like, almost to my belly button, because, yes, I got that comfortable with my boobs that I was like, “Yes, I will wear this Vampira, Morticia,” just deep, deep, deep V black dress. It had, like, long cape sleeves. But the back also went really low. The back went down and exposed the back like to the waist. So I really, really did not know what I could possibly do.
Courtney: And, like, thinking back to my dance career, I’m like there are types of body tape that might keep the dress on my breasts, but I don’t know what to do about, like, support. And I was like, “What the heck. I’m going to try this thing that’s been relentlessly advertised to me.” Because, if it works the way they are saying it works. This will be exactly what I need for this dress. And, oh my goodness, it did not disappoint.
Courtney: I am– I love this thing. It is just like two paddles of rubber with a deep plunging wire arch going down that you then slip, like two bra pads, over on the side. And they go on the side of your boobs and they fit perfectly. You can shape them to you. In fact, Royce, you had to help me with that. I was like, “Royce, help. Help move, like, muscle this big wire for me.”
Royce: Bend the wire.
Courtney: Yes. [laughs]
Royce: Yeah, because the wire has to be tough enough to actually hold shape.
Courtney: Mm-hmm, but it’s beautiful. And the thing is I love the shape it gives because it’s perfect for my vampy, witchy, deep-V dresses. Perfect for that like size and shape. It’s really pretty comfortable. Usually when I’m done wearing it– I was afraid that the wire was going to, like, cut into my stomach when I sat down or anything, but it’s pretty comfortable. I often forget that it’s there while I’m wearing it. And it pushes the breast kind of, like, up and out enough that when I am wearing these deep plunging dresses the fabric just lays so nice and smooth over it that I don’t even need body tape or anything Because it just– it fits! It just goes! And I was like this– this is the miracle, this is, this is the biblical promise that has been denied to me all my life. [laughs]
Courtney: I really– I can’t talk it up enough. I love it. It’s beautiful, it’s comfortable to the point where it’s like I don’t even know if I ever need a real bra again. Because if I’m wearing something that I need a bra, this will probably do the job better than a real bra does. And since it’s only kind of on the side of your breasts, like, there’s a lot of just freedom and not as much restriction as you get from a real bra. So yeah, that’s actually my only – quote – “bra” right now, is my Misses Kisses. Which is perfect for my high fem aesthetic, for my very formal, elegant, deep plunging necklines. And, like of course to me, I don’t see silhouettes like that as being sexual. I still know that lots of people will see me in those and still their brain will go there, but I am comfortable enough with my sexuality and with my breasts at this point that that’s their problem, you know? That’s not– That’s not a me problem, that’s a them problem.
Courtney: And I will say it is probably– I’d venture to say, for me, a little easier that I do appreciate the high fem aesthetic and, you know, vampy, witchy wardrobes like that. Because if I did not like presenting as high fem, if I did not like doing that, I think it would have been harder for me to accept my boobs. I really, really do. Because even if I was able to separate the sexualization from them, I still don’t know how well I would fare trying to separate the femininity from them. I know that it can and should be possible. I really do. And I admire the hell out of all of the non-binary, the trans men, the demi boys, the– every single gender presentation that is not woman, feminine, but they still have and embrace and love and relish their breasts.
Courtney: I am constantly astonished by– by anybody who is in that camp. If someone’s like, “Yeah, I’m a man and I have boobs,” or, “I am non-binary, I am agender, my boobs aren’t feminine, but I like them.” 100% blown away. Because I– I’m sure it comes easier to some than others. But I think about my personal experience, and I think my journey towards accepting my boobs would have been even more complicated with the added layer of trying to separate femininity from it. So that really just goes to show how much variation there is in gender identity and gender presentation, and the fact that anatomy and the physical body does not have to be a component of that. So that was my journey, my saga, my epic towards accepting my very large boobs on an otherwise smaller frame. What do you think, Royce? Does it qualify as an epic? Was it epic enough for you? Is it gonna go down in the history books?
Royce: Are you going to go through the effort of finding a publisher for said book?
Courtney: Maybe! You don’t know! I could publish a book about my boobs if I wanted. [laughs] So listeners, thank you so much for being here, this has been my boob saga. I’m sure elements of this story that I have missed, or paraphrased, or glossed over, might come up again in future stories because they have just been such an ever present part of my life, and often a thorn in my side. And have contributed to a lot of wildly complicated emotions throughout other parts of my life, where I was trying to come to terms with existing in this world with this body, and existing in this world as an asexual person, and how to grapple with the sexuality that has been perceived in me when really there is none, especially in instances where there have been sexual harassment or assaults. So I’m sure this is not the last I’ll ever speak of my boobs. But I hope there are at least some of you out there who were able to relate to parts of this story, or if you were not able to relate to parts of this story, I hope perhaps you’ve learned something new, maybe opened your eyes to some other perspectives a little bit. If either of those things are true, if this was educationally and/or relatable, we’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a little review, rating, five stars, 10/10, tens across the board. Royce is looking at me funny now, so I think I’ve driven the point home. And at that, we’ll sign off for today. Goodbye!