Large global study finds that majority of women are dissatisfied with their breast size

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I know this story is a no brainer, but I found it somewhat randomly and it hasn’t been picked up widely so I wanted to talk about it. A global study of over 18,000 women found that almost 50 percent wanted bigger boobs (raises hand) and 20 percent wanted smaller boobs (there’s Kaiser in the back there, you can see her because of her boobs). We realize no one is happy with their boobs, we all talk about it, but it’s still interesting to see it as a scientific study. This was reported in the journal Body Image and covered by Psychology Today, which is where I saw it.

As just reported in the journal Body Image, a new global study of women’s attitudes about their breasts suggests widespread dissatisfaction. Nearly half of all women surveyed said they wanted larger breasts; more than 20 percent said they wanted smaller breasts.

The Breast Size Satisfaction Survey (BSSS) bought together over 100 international experts to conduct surveys of 18,541 women in 40 countries, making it the largest study to date of women’s breast self-image. Using pictures, women indicated the size of their current breasts, and the size they would prefer them to be. The difference between the two was taken as a measure of their dissatisfaction.

Women who were dissatisfied with their breast size reported that they were less likely to practice breast self-examination and were less confident about detecting breast changes, both important self-care practices for early detection of breast cancer. This is concerning, as breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women worldwide.

[From Psychology Today]

They go on to report the study’s finding that women who don’t like their boobs are less likely to get cancer screening or do self exams. They’re also more likely to “report lower self-esteem and happiness” and this was true across all the 40 countries they studied. Also, the culturally ideal breast size has increased over time.

The main thing that surprises me is that more women want larger boobs than smaller boobs. Of my friends, the majority complain about having too-big boobs and tell me I’m lucky to be small-breasted. I’m an A cup though! My boobs seem non existent to me and I constantly wear padded bras. Sometimes I wear athletic bras though, and I could go without one I just don’t. I had bigger boobs when I was breastfeeding but that was short-lived and I couldn’t enjoy it. That said, I would not get implants due to the health risks but I might get some fat injections. I’m pretty sure Kate Hudson and Gwyneth Paltrow have done that as they both emerged, years ago, with slightly larger perkier boobs. (This is conjecture, just going on my memory. I did search our archives on it, but our evidence photos don’t come up anymore because they’re over 10 years old.) Still, I feel weird when I change my hair color, I don’t think I’d be able to get used to having actual cleavage. I also am too self conscious to even wear the chicken cutlet things I bought years ago which sit stagnant in my closet.

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68 Responses to “Large global study finds that majority of women are dissatisfied with their breast size”

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  1. BANANIE says:

    I envy the 30% that are happy with their girls, good for them though. But I’m willing to bet that segment of the population has larger breasts than the ones who wish their breasts were larger. I personally don’t know anyone who has smaller than a 36 B who is happy with their cup size, at least from complaints I’ve heard from my friends.

    • Gil says:

      I’m 34B and I’m happy with my girls but that is only because they are still perky :)

    • babsjohnson says:

      I’m on the small side and I’m happy with my boobs. They are soft, sit pretty, have cute pink nipples and they don’t get in the way of my physical activities. They can wear anything. I love them.

    • Slowsnow says:

      To be honest I am also small (don’t even know my size exaclty as I always pick up the smaller bras) and I have never given my boobs a second thought. Love them in action (ahem), so does my partner and I don’t have to think about them unless when I was pregnant. Then, I could not believe how women handle bigger boobs (sorry fellow queens! No disrespect but it even slightly depressed me althought they were just normal sized). It boggles my mind to see people undergoing breast augmentation.
      My daughter has bigger boobs and is a dancer: source of many conversations and deep dissatisfaction for her.

    • A says:

      I am currently pregnant and while my boobs have not gotten insane they are different from my small lemons I used to have. I hope I will get the back. I have other insecurities but I liked my small breasts.

    • Bailie says:

      A cup here and I LOVE it, I feel sexy and feminine.

      They are very, very perky, so I can wear a bra, if I feel like it or not wear a bra, if I don’t feel like it.

      It’s wonderful to be able to put on any kind of clothing.

      I’m very athletic, love doing sports, so it’s plus for me to not have a big chest.

      Also my back doesn’t hurt and my hubby is a a leg guy and I have reallllly long legs. ( and arms )

      • minx says:

        I’ve been an A cup my whole life, I’m in my sixties, and I’m very glad to have them at my age. My particular silhouette would look terrible with bigger breasts.

      • Trillian says:

        Exactly. A cups here, 44 years old, I breastfed two kids each over a year and my boobs look just fine. Symmetrical, perky, great looking if you find the right bikini top (just lining no padding!). I would never get anything done, I actually felt a bit awkward with the bigger boobs when breastfeeding. That just wasn‘t me.

    • A.Key says:

      I don’t know how size measurements differ across the world, but I’m a European 75 A and my boobs are the only thing I love about my body. They don’t get in the way of anything, and I would hate to have big boobs. I also have many friends with big boobs and they all complain constantly.
      Also it seems to me that women with naturally big boobs tend to store weight more in their upper body as well so when they gain weight they gain in their arms, boobs, face, stomach.
      Women who store their weight in the hips and butt usually have smaller boobs in comparison. I wouldn’t want to change that.
      But honestly, I’m no lesbian, yet I find all women’s breasts beautiful, I never understood the complaints unless they were medically related.
      I get complaining about too much fat or a big nose or whatever but boobs???
      Why?? There’s no perfect size or shape anyway, we all got them different and if you ask men they like them all really. Also it’s not something that’s exposed the majority of your life, so why bother about it so much??

    • Dani says:

      I’m a 36B and wish I was bigger.

  2. Monette says:

    I adored my boobs, before pregnancy. Always had a big butt and thunder thighs, but my boobs were glorious. C cup, perky and beautiful. They gave me a lot of confidence.
    Fast forward 2.5 years of breastfeeding I now have two deflated B cups somehow both too small and always in the way because of how low they hang.
    I reject the idea of a boo job, I had the perfect boobs, no surgeon can replicate that.
    Sigh. Motherhood.

    • janey says:

      I hear ya. I also had perky little puppies.
      I was just complaining to a colleague about my acid reflux which I also never had before pregnancy.

    • aang says:

      Yep. Four years of continuous breastfeeding killed mine. I can’t abide the thought of plastic implanted in my body so it is what it is. When I look at my kids I know it was worth it. No regrets.

    • Cee says:

      You can always get them lifted. I did that, post big weight drop. My C cups were smaller than a B and so low it was a bit depressing to behold.

      • Isabelle says:

        So seriously how do they do an uplifting? My friend had an uplift and it still involved small implants to get them back up and out. i don’t have pregnancy boobs but I have big boobs that have dropped a bit from aging. Weightlifting has actually helped them a lot. building muscle underneath has “pulled” them up some.

    • Isabelle says:

      Yes!!!! It isn’t about the size as much as the shape women are dissatisfied with their boobs.

      • margie says:

        Amen to this- I have always been dissatisfied with shape, moreso after nursing. I’m a DD, but I definitely have to load them in my bra. I feel like just a lift would take away so much size though, right?

      • JanetDR says:

        Agreed! Basically everything Margie said.

  3. Aims says:

    I have always been in the C range, as soon as 3rd grade. I was the first to get a bra in my grade, which meant I got unwanted attention. I have always been self conscious about my breasts, I layer my clothes, even now. But, since watching my mother go through breast cancer, I am diligent about my health. Nobody wants to stick out, especially as a kid. But it’s what it is.

  4. boredblond says:

    Watch some films from the 60s and 70s…skinny women are flat chested. A lot of men and women now see a good body as thin with big implants..this ‘ideal’has been marketed to us like any other product.

    • Pinetree13 says:

      Exactly! It used to be you could be bigger and curvy or thin but now you need an ideal that is being reed thin but with the the lips, butt and boobs of the curvier girl….but the tiny waist and long thin limbs of the thin girl. The expectations put on women are ridiculous! It’s a body designed by a surgeon and mainstream porn that says thin with Bolt-ons and injections is the sexiest

  5. Audrey says:

    I was up to a 36 H and I had enough (started developing in 4th grade). I had a reduction a couple of years ago and I’m happy I did. For the first time in my life my mind isn’t focused on my breasts or feeling like a “freak” when I go out. I’m one of those 30% now. :)

  6. OriginalLala says:

    I had huge ass knockers – 36H! They were causing me all kinds of chronic pain. I have denser breasts due to my age (early 30s) so losing fat didnt make them much smaller. Finally took the leap and had a bilateral reduction last year. BEST.DECISION.EVER. My boobs are now so much more proportionally to my body, they are so perky I only wear a bra when I work out. I feel liberated! even though I have scars I’m happier now than I ever was with big boobs.

    • Audrey says:

      Ditto! ;) It’s weird because the last couple of years before my reduction, I would look in the mirror and deeply think, “this is not my body.” I felt like my breasts were not really mine – I felt a complete disconnect. Almost (?) like a trans person before surgery. Now, they are mine (and still a D cup, so that’s nice too.). :)

    • Coji says:

      Skin varies of course but for me the scarring was virtually invisible after 2ish years. You may find that yours goes away as well. Unfortunately, I had a second reduction 20 years after the first and my nipple graft failed. I now have freak boobs and not in a good way.

  7. Jess says:

    I have small 36 A boobs and absolutely love them. I spent my teens and 20’s wanting bigger boobs but at some point I stopped caring and learned to enjoy what I have. I rarely wear bras and don’t have to worry about getting too saggy. When I wear white I’ll put a courtesy bralette on but I hate those too, I get hot and irritated with anything restricting on. I had full C’s when I breastfed and they were fun for awhile but I realized I didn’t like the attention they brought me, and they hurt, so I’ll gladly keep my skeeter bites!

  8. clomo says:

    I am guilty, first they were too small but then I had my daughter and now they are too big. The grass is always greener on the other side. I wish they were small again (my back hurts).

    • Isabelle says:

      Oh don’t worry after having kids you will wake up one morning for them to be smaller and deflated. I’ve seen it a lot as a nurse who worked in obstetrics. They can be larger for a few years, months, weeks it can depend but….. the deflate gate will happen eventually.

  9. Veronica S. says:

    Breast size is one thing, but I’d expect the numbers would be even more skewed if you asked whether they like the look and shape of them. There’s a very narrow concept of a what an attractive breast looks like. I suspect a lot of the issue is that it’s a part of a woman’s body that should be a non-thought, but there’s so much emphasis on women’s sexual looks and subsequent focus on what breasts ‘should be” that we’re constantly aware of a body part that’s otherwise negligible in most cases. (Not to mention breast size can also affect your body proportions – i.e. a thin woman with 32E breasts can look top heavy compared to, say, a larger woman with very small breasts who feels bottom heavy.)

  10. Astrid says:

    I’d get a breast reduction in a heart beat if I had the money. Big and floppy and in the way.

    • Katie says:

      Do you have insurance? Different companies/polices make it more or less complicated, but I basically a) had to go to a bunch of appointments where I said I had generalized back pain and b) meet some target where I went from 32 large H to 32 small C. Since I am on a high deductible plan, it definitely still required budgeting/saving but made it much more manageable.

  11. Vava says:

    I’m an A, and now later in life am OK with it. As a teenager though, I always thought they might develop into more since my mom wasn’t flat-chested like me. By the time I reached mid-twenties though, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. LOL. So now, I really don’t care.

  12. Cidy says:

    Honesty moment – I cried in the fitting room at kohl’s when I learned I was a DD. I had been a C my whole life and honestly I just felt fat. Because I didnt have the slender waist or flat tummy that you see in the media when someone has a “good” DD.

    I feel like society has created a “good” and “bad” large breasts. It’s good when you are skinny everywhere else but bad when you have big breasts and are not socially acceptable thin.

  13. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Breastfeeding three male baby pigs left my perky B’s looking like deflated balloons that have been lying around for months. As of right now, size doesn’t matter, I need a bewb fairy to reposition and fill ‘em up.

  14. JemimaLeopard says:

    I’m a 32D and pretty happy with mine tbh. I was quite flat chested until I was about 16 and they sprung up out of nowhere (for reference i started menstruating at 11). Went up at a G when I was pregnant and H when I was breastfeeding so I really feel for women with much larger breasts – that sh!t is hard!!

  15. Bettyrose says:

    I just don’t see why boobs can’t be like accessories. Small ones for the gym, medium for cute sweaters, plump cleavage for evening wear.

  16. Deniz says:

    I’ve always been dissatisfied with my breasts ever since I went through puberty. Was a 32A for a long time, and was just so miserable. I hated shopping for bikinis, bras, even clothing. Nothing fit right…I just didn’t feel like myself. At age 28 I got small breast implants (I’m 34 now), making me a 32D. I know it sounds bad…but it made me feel normal. I didn’t want them to be noticeable at all, just natural looking. So now when I go shopping I don’t have that anxiety anymore. I feel calm, and actually look forward to bikini and bra shopping! But I think small breasts are beautiful too. It all depends on your perspective I suppose and what makes you feel comfortable. All you ladies are beautiful, inside and out! <3

  17. Kate says:

    I think we all just have unrealistic expectations of what breasts look like. The only ones I’ve ever seen on tv or movies are perfect 20-year old tits. Then we all sag over time and feel like ours don’t “look right” anymore when literally every tit sags over time.

  18. Sharonk says:

    After having breast cancer I’m glad I still have mine. 36d.
    Women should not fixate on size but the health of their breasts.

  19. AmyB says:

    I was always a 36B (except during my anorexic phase) and then when I got pregnant with my daughter they got much bigger C/D and I never seemed to lose them. I did gain some weight as I hit 40 b/c of some medication I am on and they are like DD now, but I don’t know, I have just gotten to the point of embracing my curves and enjoying my body much more than I ever did when I was younger! I know the grass is always greener on the other side, but I think it is best to enjoy what you have!!!

  20. Boo says:

    Size I don’t care about, my saggy sacks I find disheartening.

  21. margedebarge says:

    It’s not necessarily that I wish my boobs were smaller, I’m a 34DDD in Victoria’s Secret sizing or a 28G in action sizes (go to r/abrathatfits for real bra sizing, switching to a 28G changed my life and made my back stop hurting). I don’t usually wish they were smaller but I do wish properly fitted bras were easier to come by. If you’re a more extreme size whether it’s a small frame and large breasts like me or on the other end, a plus size, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to find bras that a. fit and b. are affordable. I do get a little jealous of my friends who can buy a cute bralette without even trying it on.

    • Lila says:

      r/abrathatfits is AMAZING! It took having the right size to realize how uncomfortable the old bras were.

  22. Cee says:

    I got a lift and boob job almost 2 years ago. I lost 27 kilos in a very short time and I was left with saggy boobs at the grand age of 22. I had deflated C cups with very big aureolas and I just didn’t like them when naked (they looked so good with push up bras) and even though I never got any kind of negative remarks from bed partners, I wasn’t happy with them so I had a lift and added some volume. I regret the size I chose (I’m a D) and should have gone for a size 400 cc instead of 450 cc, but I had the back for it, so why not? They look fantastic and feel great and I had zero complications but I wish they were a bit smaller.

  23. Leah says:

    I’m part of that 20%. I’m tired of shopping for a different size for my upper half and another for my lower half. I would love to be a B. It would be so easy to shop for a bra. I’m a DDD which I think translates as an F.

    Women who want big breasts, just think about it before you do it. Think about gravity first (what goes up must come down, age and perky are not buddies I’ve discovered), the strain on your back and the possibility of bra straps digging into your shoulders (painful, you develop a groove on your shoulders from the straps). Also the unwanted attention because some people have no shame (gotten it from both men and women, some men forget that you are a human being with feelings).

    My advice is: don’t go too big. It gets harder to find bras once you get past DD.

  24. WendyWoo says:

    Technically a lot of big-boobed women wear padded bras, too. TO SOAK UP ALL THE SWEAT!

  25. Emily says:

    I’m a 34B and quite happy to stay there. I really don’t understand women who want bigger boobs for self esteem issues. When I was a teen I wondered if I wanted bigger boobs but it was a fleeting phase. I can wear low cut shirts without it being considered obscene or having people stare at my chest. Guys never mention my boobs or leer at them and as an anxious person I am perfectly happy to not have that kind of attention on me. I never bought into the “bigger boobs are better and more beautiful” standard of beauty. And I don’t need to worry about finding bras that fit or back issues. It’s a relief to not obsess over my boobs because I have OCD, trichitillomania, and anxiety and trust me I do not need another thing to obsess over! I know having bigger boobs would make my anxiety worse so very happy they are on the smaller side.

  26. Kateeee says:

    Weird, it’s almost like decades of being constantly barraged by images of what breasts *should* look like have taken their toll on us as a gender. How unexpected!

    I used to lament my tiny ski slopes when I was young, and then I had kids and sprouted c cups and I hated everything about it. Between the sweating, general heaviness, and unwanted gawking… no thank you. And that was only as a C! I cant imagine how the D+es handle it.

  27. Andrea says:

    I am a 34DD or 36D and I love them! Always have been happy with them and so have my partners.

  28. Livethelifeaquatic says:

    I got a breast lift last spring. I was only 31 years old. Only had one child and I did breast-feed and pump a lot. My boobs are always been saggy from a young age. But it didn’t really bother me until after a couple of weight gains and losses and then after becoming a mother. Then they REALLY started sagging. The few people that I showed them to were absolutely shocked that they looked like they did without a bra. I am so much more comfortable now and my breasts are actually smaller. My surgeon told me i would realistically need two surgeries to fix my severe sagging. I just told him as long as I could get back into a triangle bikini top I would be happy. And I am! I didn’t have an implant, because that’s just not for me. I am very happy and I wish I would have had the surgery years ago.

  29. JanetDR says:

    Let’s all practice telling our bodies how much we love and appreciate them just as we are.

  30. Naddie says:

    It’s a tiring conversation. You wanna feel good about yourself and all, the media tells you this, just to have an hourglass actress/ model/ infleuencer branded as “the perfect body”. I once had a guy telling me that “it’s alright to have small tits if your butt can compensate”. I wasn’t self conscious about my breasts ( that honestly have no problem) but I eventually took the pressure.

  31. K says:

    I like my boob size. I struggle with body image in other ways. I’d like to change my belly size haha!

  32. Bookworm1858 says:

    I’m a 34B and during puberty, I hoped I’d stay pretty flat. Didn’t quite happen but I’m pretty content. I have never wanted bigger breasts, which was only reinforced when I had two friends go through breast reduction surgery because their size hurt their back.

  33. margedebarge says:

    I’ll never get implants or a reduction (no shame on those who do) but when I’m done having babies and breastfeeding you’d better believe I’m getting these things hiked up nice and high.

  34. Charfromdarock says:

    For me it isn’t about the size but the fact they are asymmetrical and relaxed.

    I’m the only woman in my family with smaller (b/c) breasts. Everyone else is a G cup or above and gets a reduction.

  35. Angie says:

    Yeah, I’d definitely trade my 34JJ for a smaller pair – but I’m not willing to get surgery unless it’s for a life-saving reason. Keep on keepin’ on, girls…!

  36. Clara says:

    I am from the uk and I am a 36 back and a F cup and I love mine. They do get in the way sometimes, like when doing yoga and hands to chest pose and when I go running they can be a little painful but you know they look damn good in a v neck.

  37. lil-icequeen says:

    When I was a grade-schooler I wanted *really* big ones because in my mind, that’s what visually made a woman “a woman.” That was mostly due to really bad body insecurity and dysmorphia – I was freakishly short for much of my elementary years because my body did not naturally produce enough human growth hormone so I barely grew. I think I weighed 50 lbs as a 10/11 year old when the average is 70/80 lbs and wore a girls 7 in clothes. It was awful. I was teased relentlessly and it really did a lifelong number on my self-confidence which later manifested in a binge/purge/extreme caloric restriction/orthorexia eating disorder that went on for YEARS. I was very much a “kid” at 12/13 even as other girls were getting into clothes, hair, makeup, boys, dating, fooling around, etc. Total ugly duckling syndrome. My parents saw how miserable I was and thank god, talked to my pediatrician who referred me to an endocrinologist. Endocrinologist confirmed a diagnosis of insufficient HGH after a slew of MRIs and other testing (to make sure a brain tumor wasn’t pressing on my pituitary gland, among other things!) and I had to go on daily injections of synthetic HGH until my growth plates fused. The sticker price was something like $40k a year c. 1995 but insurance picked it up since it was deemed medically necessary which is an absolute miracle — not sure that would happen today. It made a huge, life-changing difference in my life almost immediately — I’m only 5’2” today which is still short but in a “normal” range. Back to boobs, today I’m a 32D, nice teardrop shape and still perky enough at 34 (no kids) and I’m so happy to have more than nothing but not so much to cause back problems. I’m glad my childhood wish didn’t come true! I also kicked the eating disorder and am more confident at 34 than I ever was at 18. TL;DR I’m a late bloomer and ok with what I’ve got. XD

  38. Jaded says:

    I grew from a flat-chested 13 year-old to a D-cup in a very few short years. By the time I was in my early twenties I felt embarrassed by my boobs because they got all the attention, not me. And so I dressed in rather frumpy, covered-up clothing and tried to deflect all the male attention I got from my chest to my face. As the years went by they grew, and grew….and by the time I hit my early fifties I was an E-cup on a relatively slender frame. My back hurt, my shoulders hurt, I couldn’t find clothes to fit, and I was still being identified by my boobs by most men. So in 2007 I had breast reduction surgery and it was utterly freeing. To go from an E-cup to a C was lightening in so many ways. Clothes fit, pain was gone, I didn’t have men staring at my chest while trying to have a conversation. No more “accidentally on purpose” brushing up against my boobs. Smartest thing I ever did.

  39. Lindsey says:

    I was a C at age 9 and a size 0/DD (probably larger if it was a real bra company) by 9th grade and was harassed constantly by boys and men. The back/neck pain and shoulder grooves are ridiculous. I’m just used to it because I’ve lived with it for so long. I just got insurance approval for a reduction and it is scheduled for April! I’ve wanted one for 20+ years so I had decided to do it whether it was covered or not. I’m so excited and think it’ll be completely life-changing.

  40. Dorky says:

    “Large” and “global”, you say? 🤣 would that be a study on “large globes”?

  41. Mew says:

    I hate my boobs and they’re completely useless for me. They’re nothing but problems. I wish I could just have them removed completely without any questions asked.

  42. Marigold says:

    Most women on television and in magazines are a very slim body type with very small breasts. I have naturally HUGE breasts. I have been carrying around DD boobs on a 5’2″ body since I was 17, and when I put on weight, they get bigger before any other part of my body gains inches. I hate them. I hate them every day. They are physically uncomfortable in many ways. They limit my wardrobe choices in significant ways. They are not globes. They are heavy and point downward (only implants are perky at this size). And…they are societally considered less desirable.

    The trope that men prefer huge boobs is a lie. In general, both men and women only like the novelty of huge breasts in pornography or comedic scenarios. They like them in a titillating “freak show” sort of way. They don’t prefer them in their ideals of beauty.

    I feel sympathy for women who are dissatisfied with smaller breasts because they’ve been told that they look “like boys” or suffered those kinds of indignities. They do get teased, and I know they do. I, however, have spent my entire life with huge boobs, and I have been accused of being sexually loose or “shoving my cleavage in people’s faces” simply for having them attached to my body.

    I didn’t buy them. I didn’t want them. They are a constant hindrance. They are the first thing people see when they look at me. I’d have them lopped off in a heartbeat at the first indicator of a medical reason to do so. I don’t have the money, and I’m too afraid of the pain and risk. If they ever find a lump or cervical spine problems, however, I’ll have them cut off or reduced down to a B-cup so fast it’ll make heads spin.

    Every woman is trained to believe she is inadequate for one reason or other, and breasts are part of that. Having said that, however, if you have small boobs….try to love them. Trust me, they are a gift.

  43. megs283 says:

    I’m not going to read the study, but I gotta wonder. If someone asked me what size (or appearance) I’d want my boobs to be, I would point to…not what I have. But that doesn’t necessarily indicate dissatisfaction. For example, if I’m eating a great chicken dinner and someone asks me if I would eat steak (and I say yes), it doesn’t mean that I was dissatisfied with my chicken.

    BTW, my current “chicken” would probably go back to the “steak” of my 20s. I didn’t realize how good I had it. Oh well. :-)

  44. Dina says:

    My boobs are one of the few features I’m completely ok with. I’m about a 36D and usually go without a bra/wear sports bras to work when I do.