Man, I Don’t Feel Like A Woman: Being a Grown-Up With Small Boobs

When I was (fun fact) a sex-ed tutor, we used to play a game with the younger students as a warm-up exercise before the “puberty lesson” called—I hesitate to admit—”the breast and penis game.” It involved divvying the class up into two halves, and then having a race to see which half could think of the most slang terms for boobs and man-bits—just to release a bit of the tension before we got to the nitty-gritty of how puberty works, what to expect, etc. I promise there were responsible adults present. Myself not included, of course.*

The “breasts” team always won. Once someone cried out “melons!”, the dam would burst and a slew of fruit-based boob metaphors would rush out, ranging from satsumas to grapefruits (I have never heard of boobs being referred to as “grapefruits”, but they still got a point).

And there was me, at the front of the class, ready to teach a lesson on puberty… despite the fact that, for muggins here, puberty kind of never really happened. The evidence is on my chest. You see, unlike my darling co-writers Katie and Kirstie, I have never had big-boob problems. In fact, I’ve never had boob problems at all… because I don’t have any. (Additional Read: Embrace Your Tiny Boobs.)

Well, okay: this is not strictly true. In fitting-room terms, I just about fill an A cup. In fruit terms, they’d be plums, at a push. Last Halloween, to sluttify my costume sufficiently I had to stuff socks into a bra that was already a ‘push-up bra’, and then wear another bra on top of that (the Jenna Marbles double-bra trick—ladies, I recommend it). I have re-used a photo from that Halloween as my Facebook profile picture several times since then because I’m so damn proud of the fact that there’s a legitimate shadow between my tits.

Maybe it’s karma biting me in the bum for all the times when my sister and I (as young children, mind) would amuse ourselves in department stores by trying to find the largest bra in the lingerie section… and then try them on as hats. Maybe I am like a Sim character, and used up too many points in the ass department to have any left for the chest area when I was created. Who knows.

My more well-endowed friends tell me I’m lucky because I have a wardrobe full of wispy, barely-there blouses which I can ‘get away with’ because I don’t have to consider how I may or may not look like I’m advertising. My argument is, quite simply, that having nothing to advertise isn’t a lot of fun. All the men who’ve had, shall we say, interactions with my boobs have hardly been thrilled by them, and any attention directed their way is more out of politeness than genuine desire. Yes, it’s nice to wander around town with a big shirt and no bra on, but come on—it barely takes two seconds to clip a bra on in the mornings, and the small thrill of feeling a little freer is a pretty cheap substitute for feeling like a woman.

That said, I can’t bring myself to hate my boobs. Bless ‘em: they’re a cheerful pair, and they’re pretty in their own way. Any woman who was bestowed with a pair of Kate Upton-alikes is a lucky lady indeed, but the rest of us just need to work with what we’ve been given—and, y’know, learn to love them regardless of how big or small they are. Put it this way: If a bunch of giggling pre-teens are mature enough to know that boobs can resemble spherical fruits of all sizes, then why should we grow up to assume that melons are too big and plums are too small? Oranges, of course, are not the only fruit.

Top Ten Small-Boob Problems

  1. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never actually fill any of your bras properly.
  2. Cleavage, or lack thereof.
  3. Your bras being mistaken for child bras if someone else does your laundry, and sorts them into your little sister’s pile.
  4. Realising you could actually just wear child bras. Sexy.
  5. Lying down and your boobs disappear altogether.
  6. Sports bras just make you look like you have pecs.
  7. You know your boyfriend loves you just as you are… but also that he wouldn’t be averse to you miraculously waking up with C-cup pups tomorrow morning.
  8. Certain sexual endeavours are automatically ruled out.
  9. Bandeau tops are also automatically ruled out—because you haven’t got any way to hold them up.
  10. Watching the rest of your body get bigger and bigger (thanks, college), while your little ladies remain small and completely disproportionate.

*Still weirded out? It’s just how we roll in England.

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Check out Amy’s interview on HuffPo Live about this piece!

View Comments (56)
  • Amy I just love everything about this article, from watermelons to plums, the moral of the story are all boobs are a pain in the butt ;). – Katie

  • This is my life. I’m from the little itty club, and honestly, I used to really really hate it! Now, I don’t really care in most instances.. but I am so insecure when it comes to sexy times… no one can win..

  • don’t feel to bad im a 51 year old half male with good size boobs its kind of cool to me because if you need to hide them you can but what’s great is that if you wont to be sexy and put it out there you can and what I’ve seen from crossing over the female fence is that little or none females seem to feel a little insecure around the more lets say wow now that awesome . but over all me being a born male with some good size ta ta now I would never wont to go back.

  • “In fact, I’ve never had boob problems at all… because I don’t have any.” Wrong!! THIS is what it looks like to have no boobs! Be thankful for what you’ve got. Some of us are truly “flat.”

    • It’s unfortunate you refused to post this picture the first time I posted it. Women need to understand that this is what breast cancer can look like, not just a pink ribbon or International No-Bra Day.

  • Really? Your BREASTS make you feel like a woman? You need some self esteem classes then. I’m trying to be polite here, but BOOBS DO NOT MAKE A WOMAN ANY MORE THAN TESTICLES MAKE A MAN. I’ve survived breast cancer 2x. The first time, I tried mightily to buy into the hype and “save the tatas” by undergoing a very long and pain filled year of lumpectomies, chemo and radiation. Second time around (5 years later), I said I’m tired of this and had a double mastectomy (5 wks ago); thereby reducing my chances of dying from breast cancer down to less than 10%. I elected for NO reconstruction and I don’t wear my “fake boobs” or foobs as we flat an fabulous gals call ’em, 99% of the time. I don’t miss them, they were trying to kill me and I feel like a woman just fine. Enjoy your “plums” while you have them and pray you’re not one of the 1 in 8 women who develop breast cancer every year.

    • You make a very good point about how breasts don’t make the woman, but I think you and Amy are saying much the same thing. No she cannot speak from a breast cancer survivor’s perspective as fortunately she hasn’t experienced it. However as a young woman coming of age she can say that she’s felt insecure for being less endowed, and that’s absolutely within her rights to feel that way about her own body. That you don’t is incredible, nearly as amazing as recovering from breast cancer twice. It’s a helluva feat and the strength you exhibited in choosing to have a mastectomy is incredible. But as a site for young woman growing into adulthood and ourselves, I’m not sure that it’s fair to judge her for insecurities that hard life lessons haven’t washed us of yet.
      That said thank you for reading LD and for sharing your story. You’re right, we should all be a little more thankful for what we do have.

      • It is not a judgment, just a reality check. Being female truly has nothing to do with having cleavage. Once you realize that and internalize it, the lack of cleavage will cease to matter. I am pretty sure that Keira Knightley is considered all woamn and quite sexy by droves of men.

      • Point 1. You are more than your body, Amy. Do not buy into artificial socially reinforced standards. You are a woman, an entire, wonderful person. You are a young woman, but it’s never too early to own and take pride in who you are over how you look. (And aside from all that, there are plenty of men who like the smaller ones.

        Point 2. Not judging, but I will try to educate. Did you know that breast cancer is massively on the rise in young women? I hope you check her “small boobs” regularly, Amy. Just imagine how devastating it feels when they’re cut off to save your life!

        Actually? Not that devastating. Saving my life was far more important to me when I got breast cancer. If cutting off my nose would have helped, I’d have done it in a heartbeat. I am more than my breasts! I am a woman!

        Check those boobs every month, my love. (PS I am Israeli. This is an international issue, a woman’s issue; not an American one.)

        • Thanks so much for your comment – I absolutely agree with you.

          I think it’s fairly apparent in the text that my intention with this article was to give a light-hearted response to Katie and Kirstie’s ‘big boob problems’ piece – shouldn’t women of all body types be represented? – rather than to seriously suggest that I don’t feel feminine because I have small boobs.

          I absolutely agree that your boobs (heck, your entire body) has very little to do with your ‘femininity’. I have written so many articles on body image and my struggles with it; the point is, and always is, that women should not be judged or ‘valued’ on their appearance. It’s about finding your own innate value and appreciating it unreservedly. Which I do believe is the conclusion I came to in this article.

          A few years back, my godmother had a mastectomy to prevent her breast cancer from returning. Ultimately, she was lucky – she survived – but the struggle she had with the cancer was more difficult than I can comprehend. My godmother is a beautiful, kind, courageous woman, and her battle with cancer has given me a lifelong awareness that I will not only practise but preach, too. As we all should :)

          Thank you for your concern though, lovely. I wish you all the best for the future!

      • “But as a site for young woman growing into adulthood and ourselves, I’m not sure that it’s fair to judge her for insecurities that hard life lessons haven’t washed us of yet.”
        You say that as if young women don’t get cancer or have mastectomies. And to say it’s not fair to judge someone? How many people do you judge every day by refusing to post their comments?

  • probably not the best month (at least in the States) for this post – breast cancer awareness – lots of us lost them surgically – can’t say i miss em, but it IS a bit over the top – hopefully – and I mean that – you won’t ever totally lose yours. i can tell you though, if it happens, your womanliness has NOTHING whatsoever to do with your “boobs” – not their size, nor their absence.

    • My mom had a pre-cancerous condition and had her tits trimmed over 20 years ago. Doesn’t seem like any less of a woman to me, and she’s happier without the weight (I’m pretty certain she was a C-cup, not quite D). Dad doesn’t care. She’s got stuffies that she uses sometimes when she goes out, and sometimes she doesn’t. Breasts are a secondary sexual characteristic, not a definition of womanhood. They are definitely oversexualized. I dated women with big chests and one with raisins (who also had 3 kids). I married a chubby gal, so she has large breasts, but I didn’t marry her because of them. We met online and actually courted before sending pictures. Been married over 16 years now. This is an issue that still concerns me because of my 13 yr old daughter, who is having to face the world, and sees some of the people she liked on Disney who are supposedly adults now acting as if showing off their boobies proves they are grown up (*cough* Miley Cyrus *cough*).

  • You forgot to mention how easily your chest can be imitated or surpassed with the creative use of store-bought items on this fantastically funny list.
    Personal example: My four-year-old niece accidentally broke a plastic Easter egg, put it on her chest, and said, “Look! I’m already bigger than you!” before laughing uncontrollably with her mother, grandmother, and brother.

  • You know what’s awesome? Small tits that are far-set! No wonderbra in the world can narrow my crevice! I perpetually look like a 12 year old boy in the chest. I’m pretty lanky all over, so yeah… curves here.

  • i LOVE smaller breasts. it’s funny – i rule out woman who have large breasts. give me a cupcake breast any day of the week, month or year.

  • I used to have very small breasts and I really liked them. I also have to say that they never lacked attention, in the street and in my bedroom. It is all about attitude and sex appeal. Nobody has big tits in French girly shows, because small breasts are considered sexier. Anyway, now I have none, as in really none, thanks to a double mastectomy. All I can say is, enjoy your A-cup, because you can still do a whole lot of pleasant things with those that I can’t do with my scar.

  • The whole “guys are just polite” is so freaking untrue! There are legions of guys, myself among them who find nothing wrong with small breasts, even tiny breasts. They have their own very special charm, and can be an absolute, big time turn on!!

    And no, we are not going, “they’re nice, but bigger is still better…” It’s more like, “ohmygod!! I’m gonnahaveaheartattack!!” “Toomuchcuteness!!”

  • Amy, I had to have both of my breasts removed due to bilateral breast cancer. I would hate to think that anyone would view me as less of a woman because of the very flat nature of my chest -(failed recon). Breast cancer is more common in young women than many realize – and much more aggressive as a rule. I hope in any further talks or articles that you will promote self-advocacy in breast health. Self-exams, and then sticking to your guns if you find something or just feel there is a problem. To NOT let the medical community say things like “You’re too young for breast cancer”, “Breast cancer doesn’t hurt”, “Oh, it is only mastitis or because you are nursing” etc., etc., etc.! Losing my Boobs, melons, tatas, rack ……. saved my life and my life is worth far more than a couple of body parts!

  • A long time ago, when I was about 13, I heard from an authoritative source that women with small breasts were more sexually responsive than women with large breasts. Ever since, I’ve been attracted to small breasted women, finding them sexier–by and large (sorry!)–than “women with melons.” And fake breasts? Forget it!

  • I thought I left a comment yesterday, but I must have forgotten to hit submit. (so if this is a duplicatate, I apologize)
    This is a great article. I linked to it on my body-image blog. I recently wrote about the same subject of small breasts. It’s good to air out the vulnerabilities of being small breasted. It takes away some of it’s power by speaking it out loud and then allows room to find appreciation for the good things about small breasts.
    And I’m sure that there are men who have/will love exactly what you have!

  • You haven’t been with that many men – or at least the right men – if you think they all are unenthused by small breasts. My current and ex boyfriend both preferred small ones, and were turned off by big breasts. Both told me a C- cup was pushing it (So yeah, they actually wouldn’t have preferred you to wake up with C’s). Yes, there are men who only like big boobs. But people don’t mention that men have different preferences. Some like big, some like small, some like all sizes. Just like some men like small areolas, medium or large. This ignorance is what makes girls insecure enough to get boob jobs and areola surgeries. Society makes it seem like small boobs are something to be ashamed about. That it doesn’t make you a woman, and that men will not find you attractive. That’s bullshit. I just want to make it clear that not all men will just “tolerate” your small breasts. You know, some of them actually like it. (Why else would there be a “small boob” selection on porn sites? Just sayin’)

  • I just feel like the message of this article is a little mixed, with all due respect. You do somewhat preach self love, but to me it comes across as “Oh, well we don’t have Kate Upton breasts, so might as well settle with what we have”, rather than embracing that fact that our breasts are beautiful, and honestly not everyone’s ideal is Kate Upton breasts. I’d also like to mention that I think bandeau tops look great on small breasts, and I don’t think we have anymore trouble keeping them up than people with bigger breasts. Maybe you had too big a size or a cheap brand? I’ve never had this problem.

  • I can so relate, especially to #1 on the list. I gained over 40 lbs. with both pregnancies, and barely went up a cup size. I did have big boobs for maybe the first three months while I was breastfeeding, but my boobs quickly deflated, even as I continued nursing both kids for a total of 6 years. And during the first few months with those big milky boobs, I had leakage, and a roadmap of blue veins all over my chest, so I never dared flaunted the only times I ever had cleavage in my life. Yes, I also have friends with massive boobs, and I hear and understand their complaints. I just wish that our body image and femininity wasn’t so tied up in how big our “girls” are. As someone who nursed for years, I understand the function of boobs, but there is no doubt that in our (western) society, they are regarded as something more than what they were created for. I have no answers as to how to change society’s views on female boobs, although on a personal note, I do proudly tell my daughters that my tiny titties nursed them for years, and that’s what they were made for, and size has no bearing on functionality.

  • Yeah, nice job censoring my honest comment. Nice to see how this blog works, just filter out all the comments you don’t like. you suck.

    • Hi there! We go through a delayed process of approving all comments. No comments get deleted or “censored” unless they do not abide by our comment policy, which is featured on each page! We encourage our readers to respond and interact, and if you don’t see your comment after you’ve posted it, don’t worry, it just takes a little to be accepted! Thanks for the feedback.

      -LD Editorial Board

  • Eh. I happen to think small breasts are wonderful; my darling bride (B-cup) occasionally wishes for larger breasts, but I really don’t see the point. Over my life I’ve been romantically involved with women who sport <A to DD+ (I didn't marry until 35). If you're truly ugly (ie, selfish, borish, mean), changing yer boobs ain't gonna save ya. If you're lovely, it ain't your titties that made you that way.

  • Well, I’m 27 and I never made it past 34A.

    My stepmother didn’t let me wear a bra until the summer before 9th grade so getting changed in gym class was really embarrassing!

    Growing up I wished I looked like my best friend.

    My sister got married when I was 14 I had to wear a bathing suit top under the strapless dress since they didn’t make strapless bras in my size at that time.

    Recently on vacation my sister told me that my bra was the smallest she’d ever seen.

    I’ll never be able to buy a replica of J-lo’s 42 Emmy Awards dress without looking like a cross dressed male.

    No boy was interested in me until well into college when people mature and cared less about tits.

    My current boyfriend says this doesn’t bother him but for whatever reason I’m the first girl he’s dated with less than a C-cup.

    The only time you have cleavage is while lying on one side and it doesn’t even count because your other boob disappears. Half cleavage is not sexy.

    I still get under boob sweat after exercising or working hard but since there is no overlap it just goes directly onto my shirt, classy!

    I love my itty-bitties and I would never trade them as much as I thought I wanted to while I was growing up.

    • “The only time you have cleavage is while lying on one side and it doesn’t even count because your other boob disappears..’ So true!!

  • Hi Elise,
    We have a cancer survivor on the site, one who overcame it as a teenager, so we absolutely understand that it strikes everyone. But that by no means says that we aren’t insecure or haven’t grown out of our insecurities. Some of us might spend the rest of our lives feeling a little out of place. And it’s our right to do so. LD is about voicing our insecurities, stories, and struggles because other twenty-something women (and sometimes men and those outside our generation) might relate to them too. We also stick by our statement that it’s not fair to judge someone for how they feel about themselves. No one else has the right to tell you how you should feel about yourself, because they’re not you. As for our comments, we’ve had a backlog the past few days and are getting to approving them as quickly as we can. However we will never approve ad hominem attacks on our writers. We want to open dialogue and start conversations – not start Internet fights– so we reserve the right to delete hateful comments.

    Editor-in-Chief and Founder of LD

  • Great article. I think its great for people to see that lots of people share your experience. I really identified with most of your top ten problems. I’m 23 and if I couldn’t quite identify with some of your problems its because I actually never made it out of training-bra size. My mother didn’t either until she had me. When I need new bras (happens about every 4-5 years) the attendants sort of look at me and then tentatively ask: A? Nope, try AA. I do wear child/training bras. They’re really comfy, don’t have any hooks or clasps (or whatever it is that regular bras have), and double as sports bras if you need them to.

    I appreciate how much not having to deal with bra shopping and not worrying about bouncing when I work out. My life is easier in a number of ways that don’t occur to you until someone else points them out. For example, I’ve never not been able to lie comfortably flat on my stomach. It had never occurred to me that boobs could be an impediment to that.

    Alas, none of that makes me feel much better when I try to purchase alcohol or anything else with an age limit above 18, and the person checking my ID says something along the lines of: I would never have guessed you were that old! Thanks old lady at the grocery store, I appreciate knowing that since my boobs stopped growing when I was 13, I clearly never aged past 16/17 and never will! (I assume that in a decade or so I’ll really appreciate this, but it annoys the heck out of me now.)

    • small look better without bras a camisole looks great.and keeps her dignified in proper places, casual who cares if nips show slightly

  • It’s also upsetting to be so petite. I am only 4’11” and while I don’t mind having a small chest anymore, I do wish I could look my 20 instead of being asked if I’m still a freshman

  • Most of my body image issues with regards to my small breasts come from my mother. She used to tease me all the time about being flat chested because while I was the oldest, I was also the flattest. Both my yonger sisters are wearing sizes larger than D cups and I just fit into a 34B, and only because La Senza has their only totally abstract measuring system for bras. Only one of the guys I dated ever said anything negative about my bra size, and that’s because we were 15 and I had just broken up with him. The others all claimed that my breasts were perfect and beautiful just the way they were.

    Still it took me years to get over the self esteem issues my mother gave me, but I’ve finally stopped buying those bras that are 90% foam padding and I’m okay with how my breasts look.

    • My mother too teased me. She would do it infront of my friends and sisters and it made me feel so deformed. I remember running out of a La Senza in tears, when she was teasing me in front of an employee saying “do you have anything to make it look like she has boobs, because she doesn’t have any”. I remember trying on my prom dress for my friends and mother and feeling beautiful, until someone said “hopefully it doesn’t fall down” and my mom responded, “doesn’t matter, there is nothing there anyways”, followed by a sea of laughter.

      I’ve never had and boyfriends complain. But listening to there friends talk about what they find attractive in women, is almost always breast heavy, and almost always includes small boob jokes.

      Its so sad that we often feel the need to bring people down to make ourselves feel better

  • I’m 22, 30A size and i love my boobs, i have no issues whatsoever with them, no insecurities! no small boob problems. if something doesn’t fit right, i fix it and make it fit. it’s the garment that is wrong, not me ;) i rock em! ps. my bf loves them too

  • I have one:
    That day when all your push-up bras are in the wash and you’re stuck with your plain ol’ NON-push-up bra. Then you get to see all your guy friends just staring at your chest thinking, “Something’s different. . .”

  • I think this is a question of preference. I’m sure that compared to what, let’s say, image porn and general advertising might transmit this could definitely become a such an issue as the writer points out.

    As a male myself, I’ve never really cared for big boobs. I mean, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t get excited when I see a bigger pair. I think it’s built into men or something other stupid. But I really DO prefer a smaller pair. There’s something more delicate about them and usually the women with a smaller chest that I’ve been in interaction with are more sensitive in that region. That’s definitely a turn on.

    All in my 2 philosophies about this topic is 1) size doesn’t matter as long as she wears them proudly and 2) the bigger they are when young, the more they hang when old ;-)

  • She is a B cup… You BOTH SHOULD be happy; she COULD be an A cup, like some of us here. I’m sorry, I just feel no sympathy when someone talks about their B cup like it’s the worst size in the world. I’D love to be a B cup.

  • Woman breast, while for some man it is stimulating as for me I prefer a small breast. Why? First small ones more sensitive, second we can tell our partner should something wrong like tumor or cancer a lot earlier and the last but not the least this is the turn on for me that woman with small breast from cup A to B seems youthful. Women with bigger breast while they young always look stunning but as they are older they will sag. As for me personally there’s so much more important things that can be seen from a woman rather than just her breast or how she looks like. Those looks on the outside is just a bonus for me, what is the matter for me is her inner beauty,

  • My wife is a 34aa, she was so sick of not being able to find ‘grown up’ lingerie in her size she started Problem solved!!

  • I can’t stand it when women with boobs (A cup, or even AA is still boob!!!) say they “have no boobs”. As a person who really does have no boobs, its offending. Like if you have no boobs, then what do i have?? Two black holes on my chest?

  • Honestly, for all the women here feeling insecure.. STOP! Much alike how you are stressing over your boob size there are guys stressing over a size of a certain something as well (if you know what I mean), and I can say this from experience.. When you see the media and see models an image gets implanted in your brain that in order to be considered “hot or beautiful” you need large boobs and truth is, you don’t. I would never EVER dare to judge or tell a woman something degrading about their body since guys are sometimes on the small side too..

  • Big boobs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. My wife wears a 34DD but has a relatively thin body and lacks the lower back strength to hold those puppies up all day without pain. I think she looks great naked but she complains that they are already hanging too low for her age (36) and I do worry about what type of pain she will be in when we are older. We attached a photo to give you an idea of what women with naturally large breasts have to deal with as time goes by. I guess maybe the grass is always greener on the other side but it would be nice to be pain free. I do wish she had Bs or Cs instead and zero pain. Also, It is always very difficult to find her sexy cute bras to surprise her with. VC has limited stuff in her size so I end up having to go somewhere like Soma where the bras are kinda boring.

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