Retailers are reporting that the average bra size being bought is increasing – where it was once 34B, it is now 34DD or 36D, depending which research you read.
Although breast augmentation is an obvious cause of our growing busts, there are in fact many other reasons why women are getting curvier.
Experts immediately point to the obesity epidemic to explain why women’s breasts are getting bigger, they highlight the fact that the percentage of people who are overweight is increasing. So it stands to reason that breasts would be bigger too, as they are largely made up of fatty tissue, but some retailers report that growth is focussed on the cup size and the back size has not increased, so perhaps it’s not all down to a bad diet.
Of course, there is evolution to thank as well. As a species, we are generally getting stronger, taller and larger with each generation. This generational change is due to increased standards of living, greater access to a nutritious diet and improvements in healthcare. By the same note, the average age a girl starts menstruating is getting younger, having dropped from sixteen to twelve over the course of the last century. As breast tissue growth is prompted by the hormone oestrogen, the longer a woman menstruates the more oestrogen she produces, so the more her breasts will grow.
As well as starting periods earlier, women are having fewer children than in previous generations – having more periods throughout a lifetime produces more oestrogen, which could explain larger breasts. Since the introduction of the pill in 1961, women using this form of contraception have been exposed to additional artificial oestrogen. Hormone Replacement Therapy also tops up depleting oestrogen levels later in life, and women who start either course of medication tend to find they increase a bra size or two at first. There is also speculation around the manmade chemical xenoestrogen – found in everything from food preservatives to make-up – and there have been a lot of alarming stories linking it to increased breast size and the early onset of puberty, but as yet there is no conclusive proof.
Some 80% of women are believed to be wearing a badly fitting bra, so another reason for the increase in average bra size could be an enhanced awareness of how a bra should feel when it fits properly. With personalised bra-fitting services offered in many department stores and a range of specialist underwear shops opening up, women are slowly starting to understand their actual bust size rather than taking a wild guess. Perhaps we have always had bigger boobs, we’re only just realising it. Demand for larger sized bras has seen the G-KK cups become more common and the introduction of a new L-cup by Bravissimo.
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