Woman's Hour: Breast Size and Self-Esteem

KD takes the mic...Henley worn underneath from Free People; fluffy sleeveless jumper from Top Shop; oversized glasses, Specsavers!

KD takes the mic...Henley worn underneath from Free People; fluffy sleeveless jumper from Top Shop; oversized glasses, Specsavers!

Recently the wonderful Woman's Hour has been doing a series of broadcasts on "Appearance". Having heard the one about mastectomy and reconstruction, and that they may be doing something on how breast size affects appearance, I emailed to see if I could contribute at all.

I got a call from a researcher, who asked me lots of personal questions, about cup size, what boyfriends said about my breasts when I was young, how I felt about my breasts then and now, and after racking my brains for her, I thought she may not call me back - I got the impression that had I felt more definitely inadequate due to having small breasts, or had more stories to tell about bullying or rejection, then I may have been a better candidate to listen to. Instead I kept saying things like "Well I feel very confident now of course. I think I'm sexy as I am. If someone finds me unattractive, that really isn't a problem, let alone MY problem", and other annoying things like that!

However, the next day the researcher rang me back to invite me on to the programme, saying she loved the idea of Loose Debra and was amazed that no-one else seemed to be addressing this market. We had a chat about the ridiculousness of missing free-spirited, braless, flatter-chested women on the marketing radar (was it so ridiculous when actually they are almost treated as invisible by a society which is forever representing women within strictly defined visual margins?) and I started to get very excited: I'd never been on the radio before!

So, on Wednesday morning I was on my own in a little studio in Radio Sussex Brighton, where I was told I'd be linked up to Jenni Murray the presenter, a larger- chested woman called Kathy, and a woman called Lindsey who'd had a breast augmentation op. I quickly realised that I was representing the Itty Bitty Clan! Of course, I was anxious, but I was also very keen to let people know about Loose Debra and raise a bit more awareness for women who are either completely flat, or small-breasted, and of course, about the choice not to wear a bra.

Here's a link to the recording. The piece starts at about 28 minutes in, and you can let me know what you think of it in the comments section.

Loose Debra On Woman's Hour

Now I must just get something off my chesticles. (Ahem). You see, there was more I wanted to say, but I didn't really get the chance due to time limitations, the style of interview and just maybe I didn't want to run the risk of being rude to anyone on air. Now that I'm writing, I can make sure I'm not disrespectful and still get the point across (I hope!).

Lindsey said two things that I thought were unfortunate.

The first was that her breasts had been "ruined" after breast-feeding. I'd like to have known more about what "ruined" actually meant, and by whose standards we were judging. I'd also like to have mentioned that my breasts were enhanced by breast-feeding, both times round, and, certainly stayed "pert" and much the same afterwards. That's just in case any breastfeeding or pregnant Mums are reading.

The second, and perhaps the most questionable, was the statement,

"I feel more like a woman with bigger breasts, it's part of our identity".

This made me fume a little on the inside. It's one thing to say that you personally feel more like a woman with big breasts: this I understand -  society is forever passing on that message, and I wouldn't blame anyone for swallowing it whole, so many of us do for a while. But to say "it's part of our identity", as if that were a truth universally acknowledged, as if all women considered large breasts to be part of their very womanhood, well, that got me cross. It might have been worth her considering that Jenni Murray, has had a unilateral mastectomy, that many women choose to live flat after double mastectomy (see Flat Friends or Flat and Fabulous) and are no less "women" for it, that many of us are happy to be smaller-breasted and feel that we're just as much women as our bigger-breasted sisters. Phew! Honestly, there is sooo much work to be done in raising the profile of flat and flatter-chested women, or maybe 'imperfectly-chested' women, who are nonetheless glamorous, stylish, cool, chic, sexy, gorgeous, graceful, fertile, and whatever else Lindsay may have meant when she used the word "woman".

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or get in touch with the contact page, and if anyone has any pictures of themselves looking gorgeous and bra-free, flat-chested (!)  or otherwise, SEND 'EM IN!! Let's get 'em out there and show the world that female beauty takes diverse forms.

Karen Dobres, Chief Freedom Fighter