My boobs have been ‘big’ ever since they’ve been my boobs. I was 11 when I started wearing bras and from that time onwards I had bigger breasts than other girls my age. Being able to buy bras at Topshop was a luxury that soon expired and I was about 15 when I discovered Bravissimo.
Bravissimo was founded in 1995 by Sarah Tremellen and Hannah Griffiths after the former encountered difficulties finding bras to fit her during pregnancy. The company has 21 stores around the UK and a mail order service on its website, all selling bras from D cup and above.
It was a revelation to me to shop somewhere that was exclusively designed for women like me. I have always found shopping for clothes rather dispiriting – things don’t fit me properly a lot of the time, and usually this is because of my boobs. Mainstream fashion designs don’t tend to be created with a figure like mine in mind, and this can make life difficult. Bravissimo is great because they sell sexy, brightly coloured lingerie for women whose other options tend to be black, white and beige, full-coverage and decidedly unsexy. Stalwart lingerie retailers like M and S rarely stock their more ‘fun’ bras in larger sizes.
As much as I love Bravissimo however, something has always irked me about their catalogue and advertisement photos. These images often feature captions with the model’s bra size, as if to say “they really do have big boobs”. I can see why they would feel the need to do this – their models are universally slim and toned, with smooth (generally white) skin, taut stomachs and barely no ‘wobbly bits’. Don’t get me wrong, these are beautiful women, but they represent a tiny proportion of what Bravissimo’s customers must look like.
There is a well-publicised discussion about the fashion industry and its narrow standards of female beauty. To be honest, a lot of it goes over my head – my figure is so far removed from that of most professional models that I don’t have the energy to be insulted by the constant barrage of images which suggest I should conform to that body type. But I would like to at least see myself represented by a brand which exists solely for big-breasted women. I am not, nor will I ever be, slim, and I imagine this is true of a large number of women who shop at Bravissimo. Why can they not find models who look like a range of their customers, rather than opting exclusively for models who most closely resemble the mainstream fashion industry’s idea of a nice body?
I feel it is worth noting that the issue here is one of size, and the pressure is always for women to be smaller, thinner – in other words, taking up less space. Compare this with the pressure some men may feel to take up more space – to be bigger, heavier and more solid – and you have a much deeper problem.
I recently bought a bikini from Bravissimo after reading this inspiring article . I’ve never worn one before because I’ve felt too self-conscious about my body, but in a few weeks I am visiting a friend in Brazil, and I’m going to wear my bikini on the beach and feel the sun on my body and the water on my skin, and it’s going to be glorious. I thank Bravissimo for providing a colourful, quality product that I will feel comfortable in. I just wish that they would think my body (and the bodies of thousands of their other customers) worthy. of their advertising.