Am I imagining or are women’s breasts getting bigger?

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Dear Cecil: Being a loyal son of the prairies, I never developed a fondness for the Grand Tetons. Perhaps that explains my fondness for the petit tetons, which I fear are swelling into oblivion. It seems to me that since I started taking notice of these things, there has been an upward shift in the range of brassiere sizes advertised. At one time the common range was from AA through B with occasional references to AAA and C. Rarely did one see D listed, and E only in periodicals aimed at older women. Now one commonly sees B and C with occasional listings of A and D, AA and AAA being a rarity. Has there been an increase in the size of women’s breasts, or is it that we are entering another period of big is better, causing the average woman untold grief because she isn’t? John F., Evanston, Illinois

Cecil replies:

Dear John:

I can’t claim to have made the detailed study of the fine print in bra ads that you have, but the folks at Playtex tell me that the best-selling bra sizes these days are 34B and 36B. The next best-selling sizes, in order, are 36C, 34C, 38B, and 38C. Cecil’s informants in the field confirm that women have been getting somewhat larger over the last 10 or 15 years; at one point 34B substantially outsold 36B.

However, students of female architecture will note that this doesn’t mean that breasts per se are getting larger. (Breast size, of course, is indicated by the letter, not the number.) Rather, women are getting somewhat, ahh, broader through the chest and back, if you follow me.

There are several possible explanations for this: either women are in better physical condition than ever, and thus have better developed (i.e., wider) backs, or women are in worse shape than ever, and have become corpulent slabs of lard. (Incidentally, some say that breasts per se have gotten larger over the last 15 years due to the use of The Pill, but this apparently hasn’t had much impact on bra sales.)

As for the disappearance of sizes like AAA, it’s not because there aren’t any small-breasted women around anymore, but because such women frequently don’t bother to wear bras these days.

Cecil Adams

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