My relationship with my breasts has changed a fair bit over the past seven or so years since I first noticed them, ie first needed a bra. I remember that first bra, it was a beige 36A from Berlei, and having it made me feel well, rather grown up. At the age of 10, I had developed faster than almost all the other girls in my year, and not just in terms of breast growth - I was also one of the tallest. I was proud of them then, and liked being "busty" for a 10 year old (that's how I thought I was anyway). But then for the next six years or so I never gave them any more consideration.
It was around about the age of 16 when my perception changed. At this time, I was in a 34B (which is the same volume as a 36A, just a smaller band), and I remember becoming rather unsatisfied with how my breasts looked. They seemed very small, too small for someone like me with my huge hips and big shoulders, although I guess they probably fit my little waist well. It started to seriously bother me to the point where I started dreaming of breast enhancement, or some kind of miraculous event would come along and give me a pair of DD's (the most amusing of these included genies and diseases involving rapid bursts of mitosis in my chest). I was convinced that I would be happy if I became a C cup.
Well, I did. And I was happy. But not for long. And so they cycle continued with the whole "I'll be happy once I'm a D cup" being a regular thought for me at the time. But when I started wearing 34D's, I still didn't feel good enough. It became an obsession, me mentally comparing my own apparent "flat chestedness" to other women I knew, especially my best friend who is very thin with a very sizeable chest. Part of me started to hate her purely based upon that fact - That she had (and hated with a passion) what I so desperately desired. I hated myself purely based upon this one gene, that was it.
In novels and movies, there is something called a "Catalyst". This often takes place in the form of a person, or an event, or an object of significance. For me, my Catalyst was finding a soft measuring tape in a draw one day. Being in the height of my "Self-Hating Breast Obsession", I figured that I should take my measurements and find out my bra size to see how much I needed to add to my breasts to get my DD's.
To my immense disappointment, the website I first tried said I was a 34C, a size smaller than what I was wearing at the time. It was a horribly crushing realisation. So I tried another site, which resulted in a 34D, which was what I was wearing. Then I remembered Victoria's Secret, who was apparently the god of the bra world, and tried their calculator. I came up as a 36A of all things, which seemed bizarre, especially from such a popular company. I realised that they were all using different methods of calculating the size, and figured that if I used the same measurements over a large number of bra size calculators, the most commonly occurring result would most likely be my correct size.
I visited around 50 different calculators found easily over the internet that night, with a huge range of scores. However, there were 5 or so out of the 50 which were bra sizes I'd never heard of before - 28G, 30F, 30FF, 32H and so on. Out of curiosity, I researched these sizes further and stumbled across a huge wealth of information, primarily in the forms of various bloggers, such as FullerFigureFullerBust, and Braless In Brazil (If you haven't checked these out, I recommend it!). They provided an alternative view of bra sizing than what was traditionally available.
You see, I've found that there are 3 main different ways that you can use to calculate your bra size. Firstly, there's the method that Victoria's Secret uses - you measure your bust, and your "overbust" (which is the measurement starting from your back where your bra sits, under your armpits to meet around your chest), and take the difference between them. The overbust is your band measurement in inches, the difference in inches determines your cup size, 1 inch difference being an A, 2 inches being a B and so on. Using my current measurements of a bust of 39 inches, and an overbust of 38, I come up as a 38A. But, the measurement under my breasts, where the band actually sits, is a good 10 inches smaller than my overbust measurement, and logically speaking, if you're going to have a bra band that matches your measurement around your torso, you should take the measurement from there. So this method I decided was rather useless.
Second method is the conventional "+4". In this, you take your underbust measurement (which is the parallel to the ground measurement directly below your breasts), and add 4" if its an even measurement, 5" if its odd. This is your band. Then you take your bust measurement, and the difference between bust and band in inches is your cup size. Using my current measurements again, of a 39" bust and a 28" underbust, my band is 32", and my cup size is a F. This is a huge difference compared to the previous method, however, this method still adds inches to your underbust measurement to get your band size, and while this may work for some people, I find that it isn't comfortable for me, and logically speaking, adding inches doesn't always make sense. This is because a bra band is made of elastic, which stretches and accommodates for the movement of the wearer. Now when the bra was first invented, the band wasn't made out of these materials, so inches had to be added in order to allow for everyday tasks such as breathing. But we don't have to do this anymore, so I prefer the final method.
In this method, you take your underbust as your band, and the difference between your underbust and your bust is your cup size. Inches may be added or subtracted in specific cases, such as having larger breasts, which require a tighter band for more support (as 80-90% of support for your breasts comes from the band, not the straps). With my measurements, I come up as a 28H.
So between those three sizes and their huge differences, I find the third method to give me the best comfort and boosted self confidence. Of course, accepting myself as my "modern" bra size as its often referred to meant throwing out all off the supposed "DD is huge" and "G stands for Get A Reduction" nonsense. This took a fair bit of time, but the more I read from the bloggers (there's a huge community out there with some very valuable discussion), the more it came to make sense. Of course there was a huge number of sizes - there's so many different breasts out there, we can't all possibly fit into 5 different sizes, or even 25 (taking A-DD cups and 32-40 bands into account). Rather, the size variation can be huge (there are bras that come in 96 different sizes for example), and a G does not automatically mean huge - a 28G and a 38G are very different sizes, as a bra with the same volume of a 38G in a 28 band is a 28JJ (38G > 36GG > 34H > 32HH > 30J > 28JJ).
Okay, back to my point. What I've been trying to highlight here is the fact that by simply changing your bra size, your entire perception of your breasts and therefore yourself can change. I've gone from being a 34D who thought of herself as flat chested and rather broad and fat compared to other girls, to a 28H who fits her breasts, her hips, her shoulders, and her whole body. Getting my head around the change in the way I viewed different cup sizes and band sizes took a good two months or so of reading all of these blogs and opinions and experiments in some cases, but in the end my perception has been altered, and a D really isn't that big anymore to me - I view it as an average size (provided you're using a modern fitting method of course!). Its changed my viewpoint so much that I no longer hate myself for how I am, and I don't have my beast friend for simply being herself, and for making me feel bad about myself. This whole bra size journey has been a pretty huge thing for me (which is probably why this post is so long - there's a lot I wanted to say, and a lot I could say still, but I should wrap this up).
So, if you feel unhappy with your breasts, perhaps just give some different sizing methods a try - you might find one that works well for you. Learn the signs of a bad fit, learn why they occur, do some research - the information is out there on the internet, and can be quite accessible. Assess it for yourself, and make your own decision - who knows, you might change your entire perception of your breasts like I did. And with this change, I've learned that I am fine, I am okay, and my body is wonderful, as is everybody else's.