Sexy Small Breasts Explained

(Editor’s Note: Google apparently has difficulty telling the difference between content that is actually lewd, and content designed to have a helpful/healthy discussion on body image. Because of a warning we received for this post, we’ve gone through and edited a word repeatedly used that I’m sure you’ll still recognize.)

I love this question from a reader, and decided to turn it into a post:

“Hi Mara, I would love to hear the WHY and HOW behind your decision to not care about having the extra “help” (with your br–sts). I’m small busted and of course feel the pressure not to be. It seems it is only acceptable to be small if you’re a six-foot runway model or a twelve-year-old (yes, I live in LA). This mindset has affected me to varying degrees throughout my life. When I worry about it, I feel like I don’t really qualify as a woman and intimacy becomes a psychological trial. When I can forget about the pressure, of course I feel great and life (and sex) is so much better.

The problem is how often the pressure and worry resurface. A boob job is so not me. It feels like a betrayal of myself, something I’d never want my own daughter to feel like she needed. But I completely understand why women do it. And I find myself thinking about it a lot.

Basically, I want someone to talk me out of it; some support (no pun intended. ha!) from the small chested crowd; some advice as to how you learned to drown out the relentless “expectations” and still feel like a real, acceptable, complete woman. Thanks.”

Thanks for asking this and putting yourself out there like this. I am sure there are MANY that feel just the way you do. It’s so awful to feel pressure regarding your appearance and I’m so sorry you’ve been going through this. Your questions definitely made me think and ponder about how I’ve been cured of worrying or thinking negatively about my smaller br–st size. OK, here goes…

HOW I’m OK with Smaller Br–sts.


I learned this the very hard way, but I learned that I AM IN CHARGE OF THE SCRIPT IN MY HEAD. I do not need to adopt the script that another person or my spouse or a culture might have for me (whether it be the culture of family, religion, neighborhood, marriage, region, workplace, school, city, country, etc.) I KNOW THAT I GET TO DECIDE FOR MYSELF WHAT I WANT TO TELL MYSELF OR BELIEVE. And I do my best to live by that. To me, this is perhaps the most important/hardest thing we need to learn in life! At times in my adulthood, living by my own script has been easier to do just because I’m quite independent by nature and don’t worry what people think most of the time. BUT, in my former marriage, somehow I became a victim to my husband’s script related to my appearance. At the time I did not have enough self worth to resist it. And eventually it was as though I had to learn FROM SCRATCH how to create my own script again and think of myself in a more positive way. And let me tell you, I had to hold onto that script for dear life. But it worked. Changing my script changed my life and helped me to take back my own worth, confidence and light again. If you’d like to start down this path, I recommend watching the film, “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay.


Deep down, I certainly know that physical beauty – or just our body parts – don’t define us. And so I DO MY BEST TO ACT LIKE ITSo yes, I practice, practice, and practice. And in this case regarding the size of my br–sts, I PRACTICE FEELING GOOD IN MY OWN SKIN. So instead of being embarrassed of myself or ashamed or hating myself or comparing myself to others or wishing I looked different, it’s more like, “I am so thankful for this healthy/functioning body. And not only that, I think I look pretty dang good!” It’s also no secret that a woman’s br–sts play an important role in intimacy and sensuality. And certainly those intimate moments could be tainted by negative thoughts and self criticism. So instead I often think to myself, “I’m so dang lucky that I enjoy that part of myself, and that my husband does, too!” And because it can be an important expression of a healthy sexual connection, I think, “How nice that there is just one very thin piece of fabric between us instead of a bunch of padding.” 🙂 Haha. There you have it (yes, all of it. haha). I share this to show that your thoughts change things, trust me. They change the way you feel. They change the way you act. So, put into practice feeling beautiful and enough as you are.

Not Waiting for People or Circumstances to Change.

It helps that I don’t have a husband who oogles and gawks at large br–sted women or makes it clear that he prefers women of a certain size. He’s extremely respectful that way. This gives me the space to practice feeling like I’m ENOUGH because I don’t have his expectations breathing down my back. HOWEVER, I’d say that a pressure-free environment like this is NOT a requirement for you tapping into your own power. I know that from experience. I didn’t learn how to do this with Danny. And I can say it’s possible to change your script and learn to feel like enough on the inside, no matter what circumstance you are in, no matter what expectations people or your spouse have for you, no matter what cultural pressure you feel, no matter if your husband is addicted to porn or is unkind enough to let you know that he is especially attracted to women who don’t look like you. As women, we cannot rely on others for our worth. We MUST cultivate it ourselves. Even if we have a loving environment, it is not enough. We must still do the work for ourselves. For loads of my posts about self worth, please see the side bar.

WHY I’m OK with smaller br–sts.


For me, I’m guessing culture is a big reason. While many may feel cultural pressure to get a surgery, I would say I feel zero cultural pressure to do so. Like I mentioned, after 14 years, I don’t know one single woman on the east coast that has had br–st surgery. Not one! In my experience, it just doesn’t seem like people really care. AND I LOVE THAT. (In my experiences abroad in Europe and South America, I also haven’t encountered an overall feeling that people really value large br–sted women – enough that women are getting br–st enlargements in droves. Though I’d love for other readers to chime in here, too, as I know there are different pockets of sub cultures pretty much every where you go.)

It is worth noting that while there may be less pressure in Brooklyn to get br–st surgery, certainly there are other unique expectations which have the potential to cause just as much comparison, self doubt, and anxiety as anything else (for example, uniqueness is valued, independent thinking is valued, creativity is valued, accomplishments and professions are valued.) And giving into those expectations can be just as expensive and just as superficial and shortsighted of a solution to the quest for personal worth as anything else.

One cultural type of pressure is not inherently better or worse than any other kind. All of them represent an external influence suggesting to you how you should judge yourself and others, or what parts of your body or personality or intellect are acceptable or not. In the end, I say we have to rise above that and choose for ourselves what we want to value- whatever it may be.


So why do I think small br–sts can be sexy and beautiful? Because br–st size is not a determinant of beauty or sex appeal for me. I value women spending their time and thoughts DOING smart, creative, innovative, charitable things – it doesn’t matter to me how one looks or how big their br–sts are or how “attractive” they are as they do them.

In my book, Smart is beautiful. Natural is beautiful. Creativity is beautiful. Confidence is beautiful. Hard work is beautiful. Healthy living is beautiful. Happiness is beautiful. Caring for others is beautiful. Wisdom is beautiful. Function is beautiful. Being a mother is beautiful. Minimalism is beautiful. Ambition is beautiful. Changing the world is beautiful. And perhaps most importantly, Owning Your Inherent Worth is beautiful.

I think the key is to just find out what truly feels beautiful to you and embrace it. And if your culture tells you something different, tell them to pound sand (this was Danny’s suggestion for nicer language. 🙂

With lots of love to all of you – no matter what shape or size you are -with real or fake br–sts. You are all amazing women with SO MUCH BEAUTY to offer the world. And it is a great hope of mine that we as women can tap into our greatest power and gifts and worth- regardless of what we look like.


P.S. In case it might seem I am perfect at this at all times, I am not.

These photos were taken while Danny and I backpacked Europe. I took one pair of tennis shoes for 5 weeks. They were so, so ugly. I had no hair products or make up at all. We brought very few clothes and I was so sick of wearing them. I specifically remember not feeling so cute while Danny took these photos there on the Champ de Mars. I clearly needed this post on that day.

As always, please chime in with your thoughts! Your comments and discussions here are what make this blog. Any other advice for someone feeling cultural pressure to get a br–st enlargement (when she prefers not to)? 

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  1. EM January 22, 2015 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    "In my book, Smart is beautiful. Natural is beautiful. Creativity is beautiful. Confidence is beautiful. Hard work is beautiful. Healthy living is beautiful. Happiness is beautiful. Caring for others is beautiful. Wisdom is beautiful. Function is beautiful. Being a mother is beautiful. Minimalism is beautiful. Ambition is beautiful. Changing the world is beautiful. And perhaps most importantly, Owning Your Inherent Worth is beautiful."
    YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE this so very much.

    • mara January 22, 2015 at 3:14 pm - Reply

      Love you, Em!! I couldn't help but smile big with this one.

  2. SarahElizabethH January 22, 2015 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    Mara, your words are so encouraging. Since I was a very young teenager I have been wearing padded push up bras in an effort to look "right". This post ties right in with a podcast I recently heard about the power we have over our thoughts (and the power they can have over us) on NPR's Invisibilia. Your point about about practicing changing the mental constructs with which we define ourselves is so important. Thank you for speaking about this. You touched my heart.

    • mara January 22, 2015 at 3:16 pm - Reply

      So glad this meant something to you. It's a very tricky subject and it was a tricky post to write. So I'm glad that whatever came out resonated with you.

  3. Kaelyn January 22, 2015 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    I love this post and truly believe that beauty comes from the inside and no matter your shape, size, boob size, etc – you can have/BE this!

    On the flip side, I find it interesting that people are sometimes quick to judge why someone gets boob job. Honestly, I am planning on having one done here in the next few years. We do not always know why people do it – yes, many are for material reasons, but others are not. My family history of breast cancer is crazy! Seriously, EVERY woman. And young. I am in my 30's now and have always said that at some point, I would have a double mastectomy as prevention. My boobs are not small or large, just average but I sometimes wonder what people will think once I have the surgery and have technically had a "boob job." I am super confident and love my body and have no hesitancies going thru the procedure or caring what others will think, but I think it is interesting at times how many reactions I get when I mention it to others. Thanks for this post and reminding all woman just how beautiful they are no matter the size! 🙂

    • mara January 22, 2015 at 6:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your story here. And yes, I do agree that there are many varied reasons why people get breast surgery and I'm guessing most of those reasons are probably deeply complicated and personal in nature. I don't think getting a boob job should open the door for judgement or unkindness. Every woman – with real or fake breasts – has incredible worth that should be valued. We're all in this together trying to find ways to feel good about ourselves.
      And, sending you peace for your upcoming surgeries. May you have loved ones attending to you while you heal.

  4. Anonymous January 22, 2015 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    I struggled with this as well… In the past year and a half I have dropped about 25 lbs and in doing so went from a 36DD to a 34B/A. I felt so naked without my boobs! …and had/still have no idea how to buy clothes that fit. My boyfriend loves the new size and has helped me see that I am even more beautiful and HEALTHY now which makes me even more proud in my own skin. Small breasts are SEXY! As is being proud of who you are inside and out and strutting whatever you have. Who cares what society says as long as you are comfortable and proud of yourself in your own skin 🙂

    • mara January 22, 2015 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      Love it, love it, love it… and high five to your awesome boyfriend!!!

  5. Anonymous January 22, 2015 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    Dear Mara, you touched my heart. Thank you very much for writing this post. It felt so good to read it. I appreciate your openness and vulnerability in this wild beautiful intimidating crazy funny and everthing else space called the internet. Thank you for being brave. Sometimes i find my worth so easily and other times it gets really tough in general. I realize how much power there is in the sentence: you are beautiful and you are enough. And i realize that instead of being frustrated myself in times life becomes hard i want to try instead to remind myself and others :hey beautiful, you are enough. And you are loved deeply. Like a surprise in all things no matter how the circumstances may look. IThank you so much for the reminder how powerful this can be. Love from vienna, uma

    • mara January 22, 2015 at 6:17 pm - Reply

      This was so heartfelt…
      So nice to connect with so many real women from around the world.
      To you and me and everyone else, let's hold our heads high and our shoulders back and let the world know that we are enough just as we are.

      (And…Vienna!! We have good memories from visiting there. I want your bike lanes in the worst way. And Holstatt – we got to visit there, too, by train and by boat. One of our most favorite, charming European experiences.)

    • Anonymous January 23, 2015 at 12:50 am - Reply

      🙂 you are lovely and i am also totally fascinated by Hallstatt. So many special places on this beautiful earth. All the best to you and danny !uma

  6. Anonymous January 22, 2015 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    Oh, my gosh! I loved this, Mara. Thank you for being so vulnerable and, well, wise. I have large breasts that I love, actually, so that's not my issue, but what I appreciate about your post is that it can apply to our body image more generally. Like the size of our breasts (or feet!) our body size is largely determined by genetics, and I have beat myself up for years over not being able to achieve and maintain a much smaller sized body over time. This post crystallized all of the tools I already use to love myself as I am. Despite what the culture tells me, I believe that I have inherent worth and beauty, even though I'm not thin. We really can change how we see others and ourselves. And it's worth the work!

    • mara January 24, 2015 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      Yes – this post applies to any and all issue that we might have with our bodies or appearance. So glad that you could find it useful!!

  7. Anonymous January 22, 2015 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    I want to add that your post resonated with me because i felt that for me its not specifically about the size of our breasts ( i personally never cared about that) although i would like to hug you in case you suffer. lets trust our feelings and decisions no matter how different they may seem. Love to all, you beautiful people! uma

  8. Valerie January 22, 2015 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara,
    I think you're right about the influence of culture in this. I have lived in the US for 10 years now and did not initially get what the big deal was about breast, their size and shape. I am French and maybe part of some sort of French subculture but most of my friends, family did not care much about breast. Seeing topless women on the beach was a rather normal sight growing up, not my thing personally but still nothing shocking in my eyes. most bras are not padded, not even for 'modesty' sake and I never realized before coming to the US that nipple shape under a shirt and a bra could be a problem. I am more self conscious in my choice of bras and swim wears when in the US. When I go back to France, I don't care so much, because nobody else cares, which is rather freeing.

    • mara January 24, 2015 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      SO fascinating to read your perspective. I must say, I prefer the way the French do it. Old ladies going topless on the beach and all – with no one blinking an eye. I think it's great to just be free from so much pressure regarding our bodies.

  9. Roybn January 22, 2015 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    I received a breast augmentation in 2005. Before anyone judges too harshly, hear me out. I birthed, breastfed, and raised 4 babies in 9 years, concluding with my last child, whom I breastfed until he was 22 months old. Yay for breastfeeding! Boo for what it does to your breasts. I was never much more than a B cup in my prime, and after I weaned my youngest son, I was basically down to two long dog ears flapping sadly on my chest. My bras didn't fit anymore, clothing didn't look right, swimsuits threatened to slip down to my navel with nothing to cling to, and I was not pleased. Don't get me wrong, I love my body, my chest had just become something I didn't recognize anymore. We all have a healthy dose of vanity, sooo. I went out and bought me a pair. Nothing ostentatious, just enough to hang a bra on. So there! Love ya, Mara!

    • Natalie B. January 23, 2015 at 6:42 am - Reply

      Robyn, I hear you! I have not had breast augmentation, but I really get why you would make that choice! I love small boobs. I love when I lose all my baby weight, and I get in shape and I feel so free and like I don't have anything "in my way." I think it looks great with many shirt styles that I can't get away with wearing when my breast are larger. Wishing I could have augmentation is not so much about the size for me. It is about wanting to look my age, and not look like a 40 year old with the chest of a 90 year old. After nursing six kids (the last three for 2 years each) I have the breast "skin" of a size D, yet I am now a AA. I am grateful that my husband loves this chest of mine-scars, stretch marks and all-and that I don't feel pressure from him about it. However, honestly, it just doesn't feel sexy when the lights are shining on your drooping girls. Most days it doesn't really even bother me. I consider them "battle scars" and I think there is something to being ok with our bodies changing and getting older. But just when I think I am okay with it, swimsuit season hits. On a PRACTICAL level, shopping with these boobies is impossible. Finding swim suits and bras that work with this post-nursing situation is not easy. When summertime hits, I find myself dreaming of drive-through plastic surgery. I seriously think that ONE of the factors in areas with large amounts of breast augmentation is there are many women that tend to have children younger and afterwards, they just want to feel their age! When your breast tissue is all gone, and you are left with stretched out skin, it doesn't feel sexy. I am way too big of a wimp to get surgery right now, but I COMPLETELY understand why people do it!

    • mara January 24, 2015 at 5:35 pm - Reply

      So nice to have you two write in as there are so many perspectives on this – and I'm glad that people could read from many. I had also never considered the age factor and the idea that younger women having babies might make them more prone to wanting a boob job. Sounds like a good possibility. Also, I do greatly feel for women who just don't feel themselves anymore. I have had a HINT of that with my recent hair thinning. It's like -what the crap? My hair has been thicker than thick my whole life – and now I am doing all I can to get that thick hair back. (The Evening Primrose seems to be working, by the way.) Anyway, I agree that it is a very tricky thing to lose something that you once had – and it seems only natural that you would want to get it back.

  10. Alissa January 22, 2015 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    I agree with most everything you said. But as an (almost!) 'nearly A' woman, my issue is finding clothes that work well. Almost all clothes are made to fit a B cup. So I end up wearing layers and layers to hide my undergarments. The irony is that I am now nursing and it is so much easier to be modest with larger breasts, because scoops don't scoop so low when there is something holding them up. I am seriously considering implants to keep this 'nearly B' shape once I'm done nursing, just to simplify my wardrobe.

    • mara January 24, 2015 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      Good luck, Alissa, as you navigate it all!!!

  11. Miggy January 22, 2015 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    I love that you talked about making and living by our own script (although the devils advocate in me says that's not always wise–if we're prideful, in the wrong and unwilling to listen to those around us… anyway…) because for me I have always liked having smaller breasts! I liked the way they looked in clothes and with my style of dress. Of course I've doubted myself about this at times–like when I'm breastfeeding and my breasts are bigger I've thought, "Well that's fun! Hmmm…." or even when a friends has had a boob job it's made me question myself, how I look etc… but overall I come back to liking my chest just the way it is. For some reason I had never thought about this idea of following my script and not letting others change it (for the worse) for us. Good thoughts.

    • mara January 24, 2015 at 5:53 pm - Reply

      So glad to hear this!! Glad someone else is happy with a small chest. And yes, it seems to fit my style of dress just fine, too. So I guess I just need to consider myself lucky on this one and focus on other things in my life that I don't feel so lucky on. 🙂 Thanks for your comments, as always! XOXO

  12. M January 22, 2015 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    This was your best essay yet. FANTASTIC information. Thank you so much for sharing all this. I have never in my life heard a read a discussion on this topic. Thank you! And I loved your P.S. Because before I read it I was going to comment how beautiful your hair looked in those first several pictures. And then I read that you felt ugly?! No way-stunning!

    • mara January 24, 2015 at 5:47 pm - Reply

      Why thank you!! And yes, the P.S. killed me. Such a silly thing to be worried about in that moment with the sunlight shining through my curls and sitting on the lawn with a loving husband. Pictures can really teach us a lot sometimes. And right now I'm applying all these same lessons to a degree as my hair has lost it's curl. 🙂 Gah. Life is GOOD around every corner and full of opportunities to become wiser, better, and more whole.

  13. Anonymous January 22, 2015 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    This was beautiful. I felt your strength. I've breast fed all my kids. My size A cup does not fill an AA now. I feel like if I was stick skinny, this wouldn't matter. I find myself wanting a boob job because it might balance out my momish belly. Can you be flat chested and not stick skinny? These are things I need to work on in my personal script. I've got work ahead, whatever it may be. I love you Mara!

    • mara January 24, 2015 at 5:43 pm - Reply

      Love you right back. GOOD LUCK. You are 100% woman and 100% capable of beauty and radiance. 🙂 🙂

  14. Brooke Reynolds January 22, 2015 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    I didn't think about it until I read this, but this really changes depending on where you live. On the East Coast I never heard or knew of anyone in my circle who had gotten implants, but now that I live on the West Coast.. it's pretty common here. I think it's that so much of our lives are spent in a swimsuit. People really care about what they look like here, where in Brooklyn and NYC, it was more about what you had done career wise, or where you went to school. Something to keep in mind now that we've decided to raise our family here..

    • mara January 24, 2015 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      I know, right?? I had a part in the post that I deleted, but it basically said that in NYC it's more like – I'm on my way, I've got work to do, big things to accomplish, high rent to pay – and I don't give a @%# if my boobs are enlarged or my lips are plumped. I don't mean to say that in other places people aren't working or accomplishing things. But somehow it's just different in NYC. And perhaps you have to have lived there to get it. 🙂 XO

  15. Annie January 23, 2015 at 4:51 am - Reply

    Thank you, Mara!

  16. WeeHermione January 26, 2015 at 1:18 am - Reply

    I'm small-breasted, and I love the way I look. I think my slight androgyny is hot. Honestly, if they were even smaller, I'd be ok with it!

    • mara January 28, 2015 at 7:57 pm - Reply

      Love it. 🙂 🙂 And I agree. It's pretty awesome that hotness comes in all shapes!

  17. Lisa January 31, 2015 at 5:18 am - Reply

    I love this post! I live in a place where implants for cosmetic purposes are fairly common and a lot of women I know who don't have them, just can't afford them. It shocks me every time. I feel like we shouldn't conform to society's pressure to look a certain way. I am so content with my 32B chest that doesn't get in the way of anything. 🙂

    I have a friend whose mother had implants 20 years ago and her younger sister got them a few years ago while she was in her early 20s. The mother commented that the sister's new chest looked really nice. The comment really hurt my friend who has a small chest and was self-conscious about it already. She tearfully told me she didn't feel good enough for her mom.

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