Life's a balancing act when you've an uneven bosom
22:15 GMT, 16 May 2012
Get women talking about their bust area and one thing quickly becomes apparent. Hardly any of us are happy with what God’s given us. Some of us feel our chests are too big, some too small. So far, so normal. But what if, like me, your breasts are asymmetrical
A recent British survey suggested 99 per cent of us have different sized breasts to some degree, with a staggering 40 per cent of us sporting one boob a full one or two cup sizes bigger than the other.
It’s such a hot topic that there are hundreds of online forums and support groups for sufferers. And ladies, I sympathise. My left breast is a DD and one whole cup size bigger than my right one, which is a D.
Sarah Ivens: My left breast is a whole cup size bigger than my right one
It’s something I’ve been only too aware of since my early-20s, when I finished puberty and stopped growing, but I thought no one else had noticed, until — mortifyingly — a male colleague informed me five years ago at an office Christmas party that he enjoyed ogling my boobs, especially the left one, ‘because there was more to look at’.
I was horrified — not only at his lechery, but the fact that my uneven assets were so visible. Since then, I’ve done everything I can to disguise it.
On holiday when I’m more likely to have to wear a skimpy top or a bikini, I try to have a bottle of suncream or a cocktail in my left hand just to hide the fact it’s bigger, especially if someone gets the camera out.
Having a baby has been quite an effective disguise, too, as I can just carry him on my left side.
On a night out, I’ll sweep my hair to the right to make up for what is lacking. And at the gym, I’ll bind both breasts down so securely into a sports bra and athletic top that they merge into one.
“One boob feels so much heavier than the other that I’m surprised I don’t spin around on the spot like a rowing boat with only one oar.”
Being uneven up top is a difficult balancing act. One boob feels so much heavier than the other that I’m surprised I don’t spin around on the spot like a rowing boat with only one oar.
Thankfully, my husband isn’t dismayed by my imperfect set. ‘There’s a tiny, tiny difference,’ he’ll admit when pushed, then swiftly — and wisely — change the subject.
My one-year-old son is not quite as diplomatic as his father however, and showed a shocking preference for the bigger one the whole time I nursed him.
So is there anything I can do about it It seems not really. ‘Just live with it,’ my seen-it-all, heard-it-all midwife friend Laura advised when I confided in her. ‘Breast asymmetry is the rule rather than the exception. I’ve never seen a perfectly matching pair.’
She went on to tell me that some women have one breast placed significantly higher on their rib cage than the other, which is obviously a much harder mismatch to disguise.
So, why the wonkiness Well, no one really knows, although genetics are thought to play a part and going through pregnancy and menopause — both hormonal events — can lead to a change even in previously more matching breasts.
40 per cent of us sport one boob a full one or two cup sizes bigger than the other (posed by model)
Interestingly, it is the left breast that is the more common one to fill out in abundance. This is because it is placed near the heart, and there are more arteries, veins and a protective layer of fat surrounding the heart located beneath it.
We also all have a muscularly stronger side, too, normally the one which you write with. Being left-handed, this makes sense for me and on closer inspection I find my left thigh looks chunkier, too. At this point I decide to give up looking for other failings of symmetry.
‘Many women have one breast larger than the other and we tell them they should never feel embarrassed but that won’t stop them feeling it anyway,’ admits Dita Summerfield, of corsetieres Rigby & Peller, where I finally turn for help with my topsy-turvy chest issue.
‘The best way to overcome this is to not make a big issue of it.’ It’s a bit too late for that given that I’m writing about my lopsidedness here, so she gives me some other options.
‘We always fit a bra to the fuller side, then discuss what to do with the smaller side. We can take away the excess material — but if there is a big difference, the customer will notice through her clothing. Or we can sew pads into the smaller cup to make it look more even, which is a more popular alteration.'
‘The other alternative is that we can always make a bra specifically for the customer. To cater for the smaller side we prefer to line the cup with a bit of padding that we can cut it to shape to fit the exact style of bra requested.'
‘This works better on a lot of ladies, as sometimes you run the risk of the pads leaving slight indentations, which can be noticeable under t-shirts.’
There’s always surgery, of course, with cosmetic doctors across the land offering the option to make the small one bigger or the big one smaller, but I’m too much of a coward for that. Besides, it feels far too vain.
‘Do what I do,’ Nicola, my mismatched mate, told me over a glass of wine.
‘Make best friends with a “chicken fillet”. It’s a gel-based bra filler that looks not dissimilar to a bit of poultry.
‘They make them in all shapes and sizes and you’ll find one that becomes like a favourite companion. You’ll take it everywhere.’
Well, it’s certainly less lumpy than sticking a sock down my bra as I did in school. And apart from a close shave with a hungry husband, my fillet and the George Forman grill, I’m thrilled with the solution. My assets and I are finally back on a level playing field.