Asian-chested is not an oxymoron

Archive for the tag “Bra-fitting”

Discovery: Spokesperson

I’ve written about George Takei before, and he’s back again with a less jokey bit of outreach. Recently, he’s reposted a video highlighting the struggles that large-busted women face. His page reaches a really big audience, so I’m hopeful that it will inspire more people to check out bra-fitting and having empathy for those of us who have to wear bras!

What I’ve Learned from a Proper Bra

1. It’s important (to have a proper bra), and American (and most other countries’) bra companies have generally terrible ranges of bra sizes.

2. It’s a really difficult topic to bring up. It originally was, but now that I’ve learned to spot bad bra-wearing, it’s become a topic that I know how to discuss. I can’t go up to someone, whether a stranger or a good friend, and say “your bra is all wrong”. !! What do I do?

3. Despite the potential for ultra-awkwardness, it’s still an area where almost everyone needs a re-education. See the my first Perspectives post for my story about my aunt. (This incident is what pushed me off the decision/procrastination fence.)

4. Lots of people have said I lost weight.
i. Reasons why I might look like I’ve lost weight:
a. Most of the people who’ve said this haven’t seen me in a long long time and have no point of comparison besides a vague impression of a short chubby Asian girl;
b. my good bras lift my chest away from my stomach and hold my bust up properly;
c. my migrated breast tissue is re-migrating to its proper places;
d. for the last few years, I’ve been preferring more form-fitting clothes because they feel like they’re actually on my body as opposed to around it;
e. I probably smile more than I used to; not that I was perpetually grumpy before.
ii. I actually don’t really want to lose weight… I’m very comfortable where I am, thank you. I already get blown around by heavy NY winter winds; I prefer being sturdy on my feet than being less fatty.

5. Despite not having lost weight, I fit into (and look better in) clothes that I thought I’d outgrown. There’s this top and skirt set that I’d bought in Thailand- it’s gorgeous but I’ve never been able to wear it. Although it was in my size, my bra band would ride up to my armpits (kind of sad that didn’t tip me off that anything was wrong with my bra…) and it is not the kind of top that a traveling bra band can pull off. Now that I can wear it, the dyes have bled and shifted so while it’s still beautiful, there are some pretty noticeable flaws 😦

6. I have been playing some Kinect games that required heavy jumping and scampering around the room; NO PAIN! It was glorious. I might even be comfortable running! More elaboration in a later post on how support-less bras made my PE experience throughout school even more horrible than it had to be (but a note that I must clarify first: I loved playing most sports, it was just that my lungs don’t agree, so it was not a distaste for physical movement that turned me off of that class.)

Why the Bilingualism? / Parts of a Bra 胸圍的結構

Why am I putting Chinese posts in an English-language blog that only proficient English-speakers/readers will easily navigate?

One of my goals in maintaining a multilingual environment is to facilitate exchanges and conversation between people of different languages. For example, I am much more comfortable in English than in Chinese in most topics of conversation, but Mom is in the opposite situation. If I want to talk to her about bras, I need some basis in Chinese terminology and customs, but my Chinese isn’t at the level where I can google (or baidu; is that a verb yet?) in Chinese and navigate without aspirin (as such, anyone notices any humiliating Chinese language-y mistakes, please do let me know!).

With CurvyHK, however, I’m hoping to provide an English-language path to information in Chinese, so that readers can pass on and distribute information to other people who are more comfortable in another language. This aspect of the site is for people in my type of linguistic situation:
“Mom! You should check this out!”
“(in a different language) Hon, I have no idea what this means.

I also realized that I’ve been making up Chinese terms for bra (and breast) parts when there is definitely an established vocabulary out there. Subsequent to that realization, I decided to brave Chinese Google and find out what Chinese communities and companies have to say about bra construction! (…and I’ll go back to the published Chinese post and edit in the proper terms)

Below is an English/Chinese bilingual breakdown of the different names of the structural parts of a bra.

Parts of a Bra 胸圍的結構

A. cup 罩杯/胸杯
B. center gore 胸心
C. underwire 金屬托
D. wing/side panel (refers to the fabric that makes up this section) 側翼
E. band 背帶
F. strap 肩帶
G. clip 調節扣
H. closure/hook 勾扣

How to Determine an Ill-fitting Bra

(The final group of pictures are from around the internet. All photos of bras, as well as the bra-related product, are taken from JCPenney’s online catalog; I figured that they probably allocate less money for Photoshopping compared to what Victoria’s Secret has in their budget. Plus, Victoria’s Secret has been torn apart pretty well by bra bloggers already, and we do need to help keep up their reputation for providing bags that become popular HS textbook covers!)


1. The bra band gets pulled up by the bra straps and rides up your back. (The band is too big.)

Left is ill-fitting (bad), right is quite good.

2. The center gore (the part of the bra between the cups) does not lie flat against your body–often described by bra bloggers as “flush against your sternum”. (The band is too big.)

3. The underwire (for wired bras) does not lie firmly against your body. (The band is too big.)

4. Breast tissue escapes to the side, creating an impression of “underarm fat” or “armpit fat”. (The band is too big, the cup is too small, you haven’t scooped your flesh into your bra cups, or any combination of the above.)

5. The cups can’t contain your breast tissue; flesh spills out of the top, sides, or bottom, which might result in a “quadraboob effect” if the top of the cup divides each boob into two :(. (The cups are too small.)

6. You have pain in your shoulders and/or back. (The band is too big; since the band isn’t supporting your breasts as it should, the weight hangs onto your shoulders and back.)
(It’s a little hard to find a picture of this, but if you need to use the below products because of your bra then you probably have this problem.)

Okay, I might be getting a little silly with these last ones.

Notice that most of these problems are that the band is too loose; this is the case for most women. The fitter who helped me at Journelle said this: “Since you’re used to wearing a band that’s much too loose, a proper-size band might feel really tight. As long as you can hook it and breathe, though, it’s not too tight.” has this advice: “If the band is leaving an imprint the way socks and underwear do, that’s fine. If the band is leaving bruises, it’s too small.”

Review: Kaori’s Closet

Review: Kaori’s Closet
(their website; their facebook; yelp)
Kaori’s Closet is a small bra boutique in Manhattan, just on the edge of Soho; not hard to spot if you have the intersection. It might have felt like my older sister’s room, if I had an older sister who was a super feminine girl obsessed with underwear. It’s prettily designed and very comfortable. I was the only one there at first, but a few other customers wandered in when I was finishing up.

When I marched in, the salesperson cheerily asked if I needed help. (She was one of two on the floor; the other worked in the back and around the floor with other customers while I was in the store.)

This was my first time buying a bra on my own (yeah… I actually never really went shopping for anything before college. Even in college my purchases were mainly food and books and more food.) so I wanted to go “I’m totally lost in here, save meee” but was able to keep my cool and say “Yeah, that would be great.”

They have one small fitting room in the store. The doorway is covered with a long two-layered curtain and secured with velcro; the doorways face the windows/street, but the salesperson will ask for permission to come in and carefully maneuver so that the outer curtain keeps you safely concealed from Houston. There’s a poster on the wall, next to the mirror, with diagrams and directions on how to bend and scoop and adjust your bra correctly. The salesperson did explain how to go in a hook farther as the elastic wore out from washing.

I told her what I needed–a bra for this purple shirt–and she measured me with a tape (in the fitting room, shirt on but jacket off (yes I wear jackets in NY summer; I like to be warm)). She informed me that I was 32DD or 32DDD (depending on bra design, size fluctuates; it was good that she understood that); I’m no longer 32, so either I was 32 at that point when she measured me, she had an accurate measurement with no ridiculous adding of inches, and then I just had a good healthy re-migration of tissue, or she measured me incorrectly (but since the bras she gave me to try were all pretty tight, I doubt it?), or she didn’t have sub-32s in stock (again, the 32s I tried were pretty secure).

The objective was a bra that did not show under a dark purple shirt that had armholes that went below where most bra bands begin to show, so she brought me lots (lots!) of black, dark, and nude bras in a good variety of sizes. For some designs, she brought me the identical bra in two sizes; a good sign indicating a knowledgeable and considerate bra-fitter. They (the bras) were all gorgeous and, uh, all pricey.

As far as I recall, the bras ranged from around $50s to $90s, mostly at the higher end of that. This was a specialty retail store, products  at retail price, so I was armed with expectations of that range from Yelp.

I ended up with a 32DDD (32E) bra, nude with elaborate black netting and lace, and removable padding (which I opted to removed right away… I still don’t hesitate about some of these things).  Arguably my favorite so far; it’s a Japanese brand narue. The salesperson suggested the matching underwear but didn’t push.



Incidentally, I was there during their 4th anniversary celebration and got a flowery hairpin gift. I’m clumsy with hair ornaments so it wasn’t particularly useful (the pricetag indicated that the thing was $12, though o_o) but it was really sweet.

Two implications of the bra being Japanese: a, there is hope for Asian brands, particularly Japanese because this that I have is Japanese and Japan has always been pretty ahead in merchandising and products, but b, opportunities to explore the brand or similar brands are much diminished since I can’t read or access many Japanese resources, and Japanese products are mostly very very expensive (although high quality!).

While looking for pictures (I took pictures with my own camera but at this point am hesitating to post pictures of my underwear online) I found narue on Yahoo!Japan marketplace. Maybe someday I’ll ask a friend to help me figure that out? Because seriously, this is a awesomely beautiful and comfortable bra.

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