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Culture, Dating Mating Sex and Reproduction, human nature

Let’s Talk about Breasts

I’m not normally big on popularity polls, but for once, I think they have a lot to tell us.  I was recently browsing through a site devoted to female body image, and came up with some very interesting information.

Before I get to the stats, I want to talk about popular conceptions of female beauty.  I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve heard attractive women complain about their breasts being too small.  Most of the time, they weren’t 32AAs, either.  More like 32B or 34C.  I’ve always thought that a bit strange for a variety of reasons, but I’ve basically come to accept that most women seem to think that A) most men like really big breasts and that B) most other women have bigger breasts than they do.

In a recent post, I lamented the fact that we do not teach our children the realities of sex before they are old enough to do themselves and society a disservice by practicing ignorant sex.  Today, I think I shall lament the fact that we don’t go out of our way to instruct women as to the true nature of women’s body shapes.

The website I linked to has (admittedly non-scientific) information, but for my purposes, I think it will be reliable.  First, they claim that the average cup size in America today is a 36C.  This is up from a 36B in 1982.*  The information is based on bra sales, so it is likely to be somewhat reliable, although I must stress that the manufacturers might have ulterior motives, and we cannot be sure of the accuracy of the figures.  In any case, I have noticed when accompanying lady friends into lingerie shops that most of the bras in the store are B or C cups, and that you have to dig for a while to find a D.

This is all very interesting, I suppose, but what was most telling to me was where we spend our money on celebrities.  If it’s true that both men and women value big breasts, we ought to expect that to be reflected in our movie watching habits.  Here’s a list of the ten sexiest celebrities according to FHM.

1. Jessica Alba – 34B
2. Keeley Hazell – 32E
3. Eva Longoria – 34A
4. Adriana Lima – 34C
5. Scarlett Johansson – 34C
6. Hayden Panettiere – 32B
7. Cheryl Tweedy – 36C
8. Angelina Jolie – 36C
9. Emily Scott – 34C

10. Elisha Cuthbert – 34C

Isn’t it interesting that the only one with larger than a C cup was also a 32?  Not exactly gargantuan.

The rest of the top ten list is dominated by women with decidedly average sized breasts.  This survey should be taken lightly, since FHM is a men’s magazine, and could certainly not be accused of impartiality.   However, considering that this is a magazine that blatantly panders to what men like, we ought to be quite surprised to learn that men apparently like average sized breasts.

Still, we shouldn’t hang our hats on this.  A better judge of what we like is where we spend our money.  Here is a list of the best paid actresses in America today:

Top Actress By Total Box Office Gross of all Movies
Bra Size
No. Films
Avg B.O. Gross
Child Actor
A or B
Based on movies in which actress played a starring role.

Interesting, isn’t it?  The only actress to break the C barrier is famous for American Pie, a movie spoofing American sensibilities.  In fact, we’ve collectively paid 103 million dollars to a woman with AAs.
Natalie Portman could never be accused of being bodacious, and yet, when the money talks, she comes out on top.
For those of you gentle readers who have read my full selection of articles, you realize that my main motivation as a writer is to help us as a society to lose our misconceptions about reality.  While I tend to focus primarily on religious misconceptions, I also spend a lot of time on our false beliefs about ourselves as animals.  Though this little tour of American sensibilities shouldn’t be used as a definitive argument for anything, it should certainly give us pause to reflect on our own self image, and more importantly, how we view those around us.

In my article on babies having babies, I suggested that it is too late to tell a child about sex after he’s had sex.  In this article, I’d like to suggest that it’s too late to tell a developing teenage girl what is normal, and what people really like.  Once the misconceptions have been fully ingrained, they are very difficult to lose.  One of the things that evolutionary psychology teaches us is that people really do like average.  One of the best proofs of this is the oft-repeated experiment wherein a computer generated composite of a hundred or so faces is “averaged,” and the result is considered attractive by nearly everyone — more attractive, in fact, than the vast majority of real people in the photos.  This effect is not limited to just faces.  If it’s true that the average breast is between a B and a C cup, we should be very surprised indeed if most people do not prefer to look at women with B and C cups.

At the very least, Hollywood, of all things, backs us up on this suspicion.

* It should be noted that the most common explanation for the rise in cup size is the rise in obesity since 1982.



14 thoughts on “Let’s Talk about Breasts

  1. A very informative post. As a guy, I prefer perky breasts to big ones. But big knockers ain’t all bad. My wife has 36C.

    Posted by Danny | February 24, 2009, 12:30 pm
  2. You mean men bother to look at what is below a woman’s face? They’re objectifying that young lady by the size of her mammalia. Which of course may be an indication that the bigger the boob, the better the mother this female is perceived to be. (The pun is intentional.)

    Posted by Stephen Willoughby | February 26, 2009, 10:50 am
  3. It is a known fact that a body appears larger or more ’rounded’ in film. I understand that a camera adds approximately five pounds in weight. would these females be quite so attractive without film or indeed cosmetic coverings etc .. to hide blemishes and so forth ? I have been much surprised by famous faces and bodies ‘ in the flesh ‘ so to speak. Often not being anything like they are portrayed in photos and films. I have a friend who is a DD cup size and when the new stock arrives she hotfoots it to her nearest lingerie store and buys them up as if there is going to be a world shortage. You see, her bra’s get far more wear and tear and therefore needs to replace them sooner perhaps than smaller ladies and all due to the fact that her cup runneth over. I may add too that this particular lady has never been short of admirers and dates !! Look Good Naked regularly star large breasted women and with the professional help lavished upon them(like the stars that are mentioned ) these unknowns often end up looking fabulously sexy. I doubt that fans of Katie Price, Dolly Parton and some ‘top shelf’ magazine models would agree with your article. Finally beauty and sexiness comes from the inner self as well as a persons eyes, lips .. voice and mannerisms, they can all evoke attractiveness !

    Posted by Linda Bayley-Brown | March 4, 2009, 5:30 pm
  4. I’m sure Katie Price, Dolly Parton and some top shelf models would not agree with my article. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, though.

    I do not say, and do not intend to say that only small breasted women are attractive to men. I mean to say that the myth is that big breasted women are the most desirable to men. Clearly, this is not the case. When some daytime talk show has lots of BBWs on the stage, and the audience is filled with men who love big women, they aren’t all lying. Some people do like obese mates. Some people like huge breasts. On average, however, most people like average.

    That may seem counterintuitive at first, Linda, but it’s not. In study after study, scientists find that when a computer “averages” a hundred or so faces, subjects find the computer average significantly more attractive than virtually all of the individuals. Psychologists have proven over and over that what we tend to like the most is that which is the most symmetrical and the closest to the average.

    Huge breasted women and men who prefer huge breasted women are on the outside of the bell curve. Sure, they exist, and when you have six and a half billion people, the edge of the bell curve is a LOT of people. I can understand why people are fooled into thinking the way they do.

    Here’s another thing. While we are typically attracted to average features, we are intrigued by abnormal features. That’s why you get the occasional Frederique (Isn’t that how you spell the Victoria’s secret model’s name?) with very masculine features, or Twiggy, or, more pruriently, John Holmes. Because they are different, we are quite interested in them — but interest is far different than base sexual attraction.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 4, 2009, 6:35 pm
  5. Interesting article.

    I would, however, like to point out one factual discrepancy. You point out that Keeley Hazell has a 32E bust, and say this isn’t gargantuan due to the 32. However, the 32 refers to the measurement of her ribcage under the bust. She’s still has an E cup. The fact that her ribcage is fairly small actually helps to accentuate her bust size. A 36E would actually seem smaller.

    I will also say that, while Ms. Hazell is very attractive, I do think that Natalie Portman is the most attractive celebrity I can think of. Partly this is because she’s very pretty, but she also has an air of refinement, and she’s very intelligent.

    Posted by Mike M. | July 9, 2009, 5:09 am
  6. You’re right, Mike. She is pretty tiny, so they look bigger than they would on a taller woman. Thanks for correcting me on that point.

    Personally, Keeley doesn’t do it for me. Natalie, though… she needs me. She doesn’t realize how empty her life has been without knowing me. She’s crazy smart and crazy beautiful. That’s a rare combination.

    Posted by hambydammit | July 9, 2009, 7:21 pm
  7. I dont know about you but I never thought of Angelina Jolie’s or Adriana Lima’s breasts being average. Is it “average” to have breasts that large on a frame that skinny?
    You also have to keep in mind that this average bra size is taken mostly from obese Americans whose breasts are in proportion to their overweight bodies. These womens’ breasts ARE in fact large because they are thin and their breasts are big in comparison to their bodies.

    Posted by robert | July 12, 2009, 6:07 am
  8. No, it’s not average to be ultra-thin and have breasts that large. That’s a solid point. I also mentioned that the increase in average breast size over the last 20 years was likely attributable to an increase in obesity.

    Even so, there’s an interesting question raised by your point. Are men’s preferences based mostly on the proportion of the woman or the size of the man? In other words, if I like a “handful,” will I like the same absolute breast size on a 5’2″ size 0 woman and a 5’7″ size 6? It will be a handful on both women, but will look substantially bigger on the smaller woman.

    I don’t know the answer to this. Reviewing my own dating past, it seems that I have a preference for an absolute size, not a proportion size, but I don’t know if I’m average in that respect.

    Posted by hambydammit | July 12, 2009, 5:47 pm
  9. I wonder where they got those measurements. I sincerely doubt that Keely is a 32E (or 32F, depending on which site you believe). Even with the tiny ribcage. In fact, without super-boosting, underwire garments, she looks downright average, say 32C or so. Perhaps they are taking her measurements with the wonderbra?

    And an A cup means only 1″ difference between the ribcage measurements and the full breast measurements. I double Eva Longoria fits into that category, but I doubt she’s bigger than a B. AA is effectively *no* breasts. Although Kiera Knightley at her skinniest, I’d agree with that assessment.

    Posted by Aldonza | January 27, 2010, 1:20 pm
  10. That’s what I thought about Keely as well. She really doesn’t look like an E to me. But then, if Keely is a B or C, and Kiera is an A or small B, then it seems to point even more towards men preferring average. After all, these are the two outliers on the chart!

    Posted by hambydammit | January 27, 2010, 1:40 pm
  11. Great article!
    The thing that everyone is failing to take into consideration is that cup sizes do change slightly based on the bandsize. The picture of the woman posted above does not look like a 32C at all! I would guess that she is a 32 DD/E. I am 32B/34B/32C depending on the bra and my chest looks much smaller (which could be do to other factors such as my height and broad shoulders). Bras have “sister” sizes, so a 32C has the equivalent amount of breast tissue as a 34B or a 36A. Thus a 32C and 36C are vastly different bra and breast sizes. Lots of people like to think that there is an objective thing as a “C” or a “B” cup, but cup size depends on the band size, and the larger the band size size, the larger the cup size.
    Thus, a woman with 32E bra size probably has larger looking breasts in comparison to her slim build, but no doubt about it, a 42E bra is larger breasts (even if it doesn’t look so on a larger girl).

    Posted by Molly | February 5, 2010, 3:35 pm
  12. Hi. I love Adriana Lima. She’s really georgeous and a fine role model. She’s really sexy yet she didn’t choose to have premarital sex. Do you guys know where I can find Adriana Lima posters?

    Posted by Anna Murray | March 9, 2010, 11:12 am
  13. Thanks for this…it’s stupid as hell, but I’ve always despised my 34A’s, and reading articles like this one sincerely helps me smack myself into perspective. The worst part has always been looking in the mirror and a part of me KNOWING that I’d find myself attractive if preconceptions from the media and modern society didn’t get in the way. In daily life, it’s always seemed as though large breasts and an average personality/face get chosen before someone with a pretty face/nice personality but smaller breasts, and I’m not even sure if that’s because men sincerely appreciate the former more or if they just tell themselves that they do or pursue that kind of woman because they think it will give them more social approval and kudos from their guy friends. Something that I hear often from my male friends is that larger boobs are great until you get the girl naked; this definitely adds to the case that society has warped the perception of beauty by making iconic attractiveness something that can only be captured with clothes on and not even in the natural, naked state of a human being.

    Posted by Clarisse | August 6, 2011, 10:42 pm


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