One of the best things about having an older sister is listening to her life advice, right? Bras, boys, big life decisions like whether or not you should try unicorn hair or Topshop’s see-through jeans. Well, betty has a VIP pass to a group of girls that are sharing their words of wisdom, too. Because there’s always room for more embarrassing stories we can learn from. Awkward sex chats, fashion mistakes, first kisses… ex Made In Chelsea star and My Flash Trash founder Amber reveals *everything* about growing up. And you’ve got a front row seat.

The greatest thing about having boobs is being able to touch them whenever you like. Feeling a bit down? Just grab your boobs. Feeling needy? Grab your boobs. Bored? Grab your boobs.

But grabbing your boobs isn’t quite the same as feeling your boobs to check all is in order. You’ve probably seen all the adverts and viral posts on Twitter and Facebook detailing how to properly check your boobs for anything that might seem a bit off. Really good for adults who are at risk of breast cancer, right? Give it a quick RT or share so your Auntie Val in Scotland is aware of the signs then keep scrolling…

DING DING DING. RED ALERT. SIRENS WAIL. LOCKDOWN COMMENCES.

Wrong. No. EVERYONE should check their boobs, whether they’re 44, 74, or 14 – because you never know when something might appear, just like it did for me.

Yes, my name is Louise and I found a lump in my boob.

I was barely out of my teens when I ran to my mum’s bedroom wide-eyed, toothbrush dangling from my mouth, and both hands clutched on my left tit. I have a habit of flashing my boobs or bum to people (I blame my Nan, she loves showing people – namely my boyfriend – the scars on her hips from her many operations, she isn’t shy) but this time was different.

“Ere’s a fing in ma oob,” I said.

“Excuse me?” Mum replied, taking the toothbrush from my mouth.

“There’s a thing in my boob.”

I grabbed her hand and pressed her fingers on my nipple, moving them around a bit. She frowned. “Definitely something there. I’ll get you an appointment for tomorrow.” And that was that.

My mum’s a secretary to a breast surgeon, which was incredibly handy. She doesn’t fluster. She knows that symptoms can mean anything – unlike Google, which screams ‘DEATH!’ any time you search ‘my toe hurts’ or ‘my bum’s itchy’.

Regardless, I Googled ‘types of boob lumps’, which Mum specifically told me not to do. I knew that breast cancer would come up first. I knew that breast cancer charities, support groups, and frickin’ funeral planners would be thrown in my face, but I kept my eyes firmly on the NHS website.

There were so many things this lump right under my nipple could be. A breast abscess, a breast cyst, benign lumps or, of course, breast cancer. All of these I’d heard of but another diagnosis sounded more fancy than the others: Fibroadenoma.

Fibroadenomas were described on the NHS website as, “smooth, well-rounded solid lumps of tissue that sometimes develop outside the milk ducts. They are particularly common in young women.”

Bingo. That must have been me.

(Sidenote: I do not recommend Googling symptoms – it’s much better going to see your GP!)

The next day, Mum and I saw her surgeon for a proper examination. He was a small, old guy who I’d known for years and the thought of him touching my tits seemed a bit… weird. But I told myself that this is his literal job. He does this all the time. I just wish his hands weren’t so cold.

He confirmed the lump and instantly told me that there was nothing to worry about. HOW DID HE KNOW? JUST FROM FEELING IT? IS HE A WIZARD? But he told me the lump, which was very likely a fibroadenoma (smug Lou here felt so smug indeed), was quite large so may have to be surgically removed.

“How many times do you check your breasts?” he asked.

“Mmmm, when you say check…”

“So, never.”

“…”

He was bemused as to how I hadn’t noticed this lump before as it was QUITE LARGE, but I quoted the NHS website back to him and said fibroadenomas are sometimes referred to as ‘breast mice’ because they easily move around so it was probably hidden. He gave me a (well deserved) lecture on how to check my boobs anyway.

After an ultrasound and biopsy to solidify diagnosis, I had the operation and, during it, the surgeon found two lumps. A smaller was hiding behind the bigger. Peekaboob.

They both had to be removed, tested for malignancy (cancer) for protocol then destroyed, so I couldn’t keep them in a jar. Boo. I had a six-month then yearly check up and was signed off. Done and dusted. Who knew finding a breast lump could be so normal, so simple?

I’ve got a crackin’ scar now around my left nipple. I don’t tell people I was bitten by a shark, I tell them I had lumps in my boob. That shocks them more because “YOU’RE SO YOUNG???”  – and maybe, just maybe, hopefully, it’ll encourage them to check their own boobs more often.

@louisejonesetc

Check out the Coppafeel site for more tips and advice on getting to grips with your boobs.

Image: Katie Edmunds

Ah, boobs – one of life’s biggest ironies. Some people have them, and wish they didn’t. Others don’t and wish they did.

Just like people with straight hair often dream of having curly hair, and people with curly hair want straight hair, and tall people often wish they were shorter and short people often wish they were taller. Haven’t you heard? The grass is always greener.

You just have to trust us when we say everything is pretty damn green on your side of the fence too.

Boobs, boobs, boobs

Puberty is a process. Like photosynthesis. Or methodically stalking your crush on social media.

At the beginning of your boob development, you might notice a small, raised bumps behind your nipples. These are breast buds. They’re pretty friendly, but sometimes they might get sore and tender from the effort of growing. A little while later, you might notice your nipple and the skin around it (the areola) get bigger and darker.

Some time after that, your breasts will begin to grow. For some people, it might feel like your boobs sprouted overnight. For other people, it might feel like you bought a ticket to the main event, and no one showed up. People’s boobs develop at different speeds and grow to different sizes. Whether you end up an A cup or a J cup, we promise, your breasts are awesome.

Sure, but when do I need a bra? #shopping

The good but confusing news is: there’s no right time!

Comfort is the best reason that anyone decides to wear a bra – whether it’s physical, or emotional. It could be to stop them bouncing up and down like a five year old on a trampoline while you’re trying to do PE. It could be because you don’t want people to see your nipples through your t-shirt. Or it could be because other girls in your class are wearing them and you want to too. We’ve all been there.

But either way, your comfort is the most important thing. The biggie. Numero uno.

So I can put it off?

It’s totally up to you! But most people find that their boobs are quite tender when they’re growing, so a bit of support can make things in your chestal region more comfortable.

TL;DR? Do I need a bra - the important stuff:
  • Most people find that once their boobs have started growing, they’re more comfortable with a bit of support – especially for playing sport or running around.
  • It’s always a good idea to get properly fitted. Maybe start with a crop top and move onto a soft cup bra once you need something sturdier. And save underwires for later, once your boobs are more developed.
  • There is no magical ‘right’ time. Comfort is the main reason that anyone wears a bra, and it’s important that you do what makes you feel great – even if that means not wearing one at all.

For your first bra, it’s a good idea to get properly fitted. We know the idea of a lady in a department store with a tape measure round your norks is beyond awkward, but trust us: if you’ve ever tried to wear shoes that are a size too small, you’ll know it’s really not worth the pain.

You might want to start with a crop top in the early days, and move onto a soft cup bra when your boobs get bigger. And unless your boobs grow very quickly, you probably won’t need an underwired bra at first – just keep things soft and comfy.

Got that? Comfort is Queen.

So there’s no ‘right’ time?

Nope. Working out when (or if) you want to wear a bra is totally up to you. We recommend wearing one for sport to keep the bouncing at bay, but whether or not you want to wear one day-to-day is something you can decide as you go.

As you venture into the weird, wonderful world of underwear, you’ll meet bras that can make your boobs look bigger or smaller, rounder or pointier, closer together or further apart – but while it’s fun to try all the different styles, remember your boobs are totally fine just as they are.

So are your hair and your height, while we’re at it.

We talk about boobs a lot here at betty, but we haven’t actually spoken about how to do one of the most important things: fondle your tits. (The more scientific phrase is obviously: how to examine your breasts, but that doesn’t sound as exciting.)

So, here’s the lowdown on how to check your boobs and why you need to do it. By the end of this, you’ll have monthly reminders on your phone. We bet you 50p.

I’m only a teenager, why do I need to check my boobs?!

Right?! We hear you. If you’re still a teenager, or even young adult, then what’s the point of checking your boobs for anything nasty?

The facts state that developing breast cancer in your teenage years is ‘extremely rare’ and it’s still even ‘uncommon’ when you’re in your 20s and 30s. The NHS doesn’t start sending ‘COME AND GET YOUR BOOBS CHECKED’ letters until you’re 50, which is the age (and above) at which most breast cancers are diagnosed.

BUT, nevertheless, it’s good to get the practice in. It’s easy, quick, and free, so why not start a routine of checking?

Also, you might not find anything cancer-related but you might just find something else. There are many different types of breast lumps and most of them aren’t malignant (cancer). Benign breast lumps are non-cancerous and come in many shapes and sizes, and many different ages.

One example is a fibroadenoma. They’re lumps that can grow thanks to your hormones (surprise surprise), can be quite common to find during puberty/as a young woman, and aren’t dangerous, but can hurt if they’re sizeable and can be removed. (Spoiler: I had two when I was 20!)

how to check your boobs

How do I check them properly?

Both the NHS and boob charity CoppaFeel say that there’s no one right way to check your boobs, so don’t feel nervous that you’re doing it wrong. Just bloody do it.

Some basic pointers are:

  • Check them in the shower! While you’re naked, get touchy feely too. Two birds (blue tits, obvs), one stone.
  • But if you do check in the shower then make sure you actually use your hands and not a scrunchie thing. You need those fingers to properly prod about.
  • For checking not-in-the-shower, you can start by standing front of a mirror with your hands on your hips, looking like a strong, empowering badass. Have a good ol’ gander at your boobs to see if anything’s changed since the last time you checked.
  •  Then, THROW YOUR ARMS IN THE AIR LIKE YOU JUST DON’T CARE and have another look. This is basically the natural way of grabbing your boobs and lifting them up to check from a different angle.
  • Have a nice lie down. Your boobs will flop like pancakes down on your chest. This is one of the best ways to check for actual lumps. Just give your boobs a gentle prod around using a couple of fingers.

Don’t panic if you DO feel some lumps and bumps. All boobs are lumpy (or ‘nodular’ to be scientific) with milk-making bits and fatty bits, but you’re looking for any differences, either between your two boobs or from the last time you checked. Keep a tit diary!

A #valentinesday message* from the Boob Team 💘

A post shared by CoppaFeel! (@coppafeelpeople) on

What am I actually looking for when I’m checking?

You’re not checking for just lumps and bumps. Other signs of mischief can be:

  • Changes in texture. Look for any dimples, where the skin goes in a bit like a mini-crater.
  • Swelling. There might not be any actual lumps, but check for any general swelling or redness.
  • Pain. Some pain is normal, especially in the week of your period, but if you’re in pain all the damn time, or it’s getting worse, then there could be an issue.
  • Discharge. Are your nipples leaking? They shouldn’t be, so have a check.
  • Changes in shape and size. Not everyone’s boobs are identical and that’s totally fine, but if one boob has suddenly changed in shape or size so the other one is like ‘u ok hun’ then there could be something up.
  • Changes in nipples (inversion or direction). The same goes for your nipples. If one has suddenly dived headfirst into your boob then definitely question that.
  • Rashes or crusting. It sounds gross but please don’t ignore wild rashes or crusty nipples! Be brave and flop that boob out to your GP.

Remember, you’re always looking for differences. Checking your boobs from now on will make you more aware of what your normal boobage is, so you notice any differences better in the future.

I think I’ve found something weird, what do I do now?!

DO NOT GOOGLE. Ya hear? Don’t do it. Step away. Put the phone down. It’s not worth it.

The best thing to do is to see your doctor. No shockers there. Don’t be worried about what they might say – remember that in all likelihood, it’s fine. The stats are on your side. There are a load of reasons why your tits are titting about. Grab a family member or good friend and make that appointment.

You can always read our article on how to talk to your doctor about embarrassing stuff if you’re flapping!

Do you owe us 50p now?

 

The annoying answer? “Sooner or later”.

The real answer is that breasts (or boobs, baps, chesticles, ta-tas, mammaries, gazongas) come in endless varieties – even more than there are ridiculous names for them*.

Some arrive early, others prefer to take their sweet time. Your boobs will usually grow between the ages of 10-13, but it’s totally ok for them to come as early as eight or as late as 16.

What if they never grow?

Chill. They will. It can be stressful when you feel like you’re at the back of the boob queue, but remember that there’s no right or wrong time for them to develop – or a wrong size for them to be when they do. Little and perky or large and luscious, every breast is #blessed.

TL;DR? The important stuff:
  • Boobs usually grow between the ages of 10-13, but it’s totally ok for them to come any time between eight and 16.
  • Nature and genetics are in control, so there’s nothing you can do to make them grow quicker – soz.
  • Some will be small, some bigger, some will grow slowly and some might feel like they’ve appeared overnight. Every body and every boob is different.

Growing later doesn’t necessarily mean they will be smaller than other people’s, though. They could grow slowly and gradually, or feel as though they’ve suddenly sprouted overnight. BOOM! Happy boobday.

Try talking to female relatives about when their breasts grew, as there is often a family pattern. Or if you’re feeling really worried about it, a visit to your GP might help to reassure you.  

Can I help them grow faster?

Nope, sorry! You can bench-press all you like, but we’re here to tell you today that the old “I must increase my bust” routine won’t achieve anything – because your boobs are made from glands and soft tissue, not muscle.

Just stay patient, and let nature do its thing. Try to focus on the other great stuff you have RIGHT NOW. Like Netflix.  

When will they STOP growing?

You might think they’re ENORMOUS, but chances are they won’t always feel so big. It’s amazing what a difference a great bra can make.  

Breasts have usually grown to their adult size by the time you’re 18, though they could stop earlier or continue growing into your early 20s – and as you’ll find out, there are plenty of reasons they might change their size, shape or appearance throughout your adult life too.

The top line? Your body is an artwork that’s always in progress, so you may as well stop waiting for it to be finished and start appreciating it now.

*Norks! We forgot norks.

Image: Kate Borrill

Summer is the greatest time of year, but there’s something about the rising temperatures and shedding of layers that can make even the most confident of ladies feel a bit, well, wobbly about their bodies.

If you thought celebs were immune to these feelings, you thought wrong, as nine celeb ladies talk body confidence – how to get it, keep it and what to do when you’re not quite there yet.

“I feel very empowered and confident and comfortable with where I am. And I think it took me a long while to get there because, you know, the past year was so interesting because I’ve never been body-shamed before. I did gain weight, but I don’t care. It wasn’t about how I gained weight, it was about how I embraced it. And that’s just kind of my approach.”

Selena Gomez shuts down her body-shamers and gives everyone a lesson in the art of not caring. Take note.

“This confidence is not something that happens overnight. I have been working on it for a long time. I look in the mirror and do affirmations: ‘You are bold. You are brilliant. You are beautiful.’ If my lower pooch is really popping out that day, I look at it and say, ‘Pooch, you are cute!’”

Model Ashley Graham knows that building your body confidence can take time and that’s OK.

“Sometimes when I’m having bad body image issue days, I remind myself that I’d rather live in freedom from my eating disorder than worry about what people think about my body… I am more than a number and a jean size.”

Demi Lovato faces her eating disorder head-on.

“I represent a body image that wasn’t accepted in high-fashion before… Yes, I have abs, I have a butt, I have thighs, but I’m not asking for special treatment. I’m fitting into my sample sizes. Your mean comments don’t make me want to change my body.”

Gigi Hadid’s open letter to her Instagram trolls is an inspiration to us all.

“We do not value ourselves enough. Especially young people, [who] don’t really appreciate, how brilliant our bodies are. I’ve always been very, very specific, and very choosy – very choosy ­– about what I do with my body, and who I want to share that with.”

Beyoncé knows her worth and isn’t afraid to let everyone else know, too.

“If anybody even tries to whisper the word ‘diet,’ I’m like, ‘You can go f**k yourself.’ “

Jennifer Lawrence won’t be told how to look or eat by anyone, and for that we salute her.

“I know because I’m honest about my insecurities that people think I’m 100% positive about my body all the time, but I’m not. I get really uncomfortable, too. But I just remind myself that this is the body I was given. This is who I am.”

Ariel Winter practises the art of self-acceptance.

“I was actually just taking a picture of the bruises and then I saw the stretchmarks in there. I have those apps, the Facetune and Photoshopping ones, and I just didn’t feel like doing it anymore — and I’m never doing it again, because I think we forgot what normal people look like now.”

Chrissy Teigen explains her stretchmark selfie and why she won’t be editing them out of her Insta pics from now on.

“Stop trying to make people feel badly about their bodies. It’s okay to be different… to be curvy or to be thin… How about we respect people’s body boundaries and encourage each other to feel like a babe no matter how they are? That would be nice.”

Ariana Grande has nothing but love for ALL body shapes.

Amen, sisters!

Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds

Oh hey there. Can you just do something real quick? Put your hands together. Are they exactly the same size? What about your feet? Your earlobes? Your nostrils?

Thought not.

Fact fans: it’s actually super rare for people to have identically symmetrical features. Instead, it’s much more likely that your DNA will have looked at its handiwork, said, “I mean, that’s probably close enough,” and gone out for lunch.

Boobs too?

Yep. In fact, it’s actually more common for women to have one boob that’s bigger than the other than to have two identical ta-tas on their chest.

During puberty, as breasts buds turn into actual breasts, it’s likely that one will come out of the starting gate first. It could be Righty-McRightson or it could be Queen Lefty VI. Either way, throughout your teenage years while your boobs are still developing, it’s likely that they’ll grow at different rates.

So this is a temporary thing?

Well, no. Even when they’re fully developed, most women’s breasts are still different sizes. Just like their feet. Or their earlobes. Or their nostrils.

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • Breathe, it’s actually super common. It's actually more common than perfectly symmetrical breasts.
  • During puberty, it’s likely that one will develop faster than the other. They’ll probably continue to grow at different speeds throughout your teenage years, and most adult women still have one that is bigger than the other.
  • This shouldn’t affect your life in any way other than making bras shopping a bit more of a puzzle. But always buy the size that fits your bigger side, as a general rule of thumb. Or boob.

What can I do about this terrible tragedy?

There are lots of things you need to think about right now. Homework. The difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’. Whether or not you ever want to do a bungee jump.

This is NOT one of those things. We promise. Just like the great eyebrow mantra, your boobs are sisters, not twins. Having one a little bigger is totally normal and the chances of anyone else noticing, or caring, are basically nada – so cross it off your list right now.

Seriously, cross it off.

But wait, what size bra do I buy?

Relax, no need to start sewing two bras together into a mutant franken-bra (although hey, it’s a project). The general rule is always buy a bra to fit your bigger boob. It’s sizest, we know, but it’s better to have a little extra room than a nipple that keeps escaping every five minutes.

If you find you’re still really worried about how different your breasts are, go and have a chat to your doctor. They should be able to put your mind at ease, or suggest some other options.

And remember: in real life, the only things that are properly symmetrical are the Taj Mahal, Kit Kats and Gigi Hadid’s face.

Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds

Have you ever been really excited for Christmas or a birthday because you think you’re getting a particular present… but then you get something totally different, or (even worse) nothing at all?

Well, that’s how it can feel when all your friends and the girls in your class have big boobs and you don’t. Emotionally, as well as literally, flat.

It’s completely natural to feel a bit disappointed and left out when you hit your mid-teens and have small boobs when everyone else seems to be buying new bras, talking in cup-size code and wearing low cut tops. It can feel like they’re all part of a secret club, and you didn’t get invited.

Gretchen Weiners

But it’s easy to forget that we all come in different shapes and sizes. And every one of those shapes and sizes is perfectly natural and fine.

Sure, there are things about having big boobs that small-boobed sisters like you and me don’t get to talk about. Like how much we can store in our cleavage. Which celebrity has the same cup size as them. Um. The fact that big boobs can cause back pain. Wait – maybe it’s not all hunky-dory for those with big boobs either?

Glee relieved face

Truth is, there are just as many awesome things about being smaller up top too. (Shh, just don’t tell your big-boobed friends.)

Here are some of the reasons that having small boobs really isn’t a big deal. Like, at all.

1. You can go trampolining and running with ease

Jennifer Lawrence running on chat show

Bouncing up and down, running, dancing… in fact, most kinds of exercise can be easier when you have small boobs. That doesn’t mean you should skip buying a good sports bra, but you don’t need to find one with loads of rock-solid support or wear two at once like – yep – some other girls do.

2. You’ll never experience under-boob sweat.

Too hot gif

Because armpit sweat is annoying enough.

3. You have lots of small-boobed role models.

Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani, Kate Moss, Natalie Portman, Zoe Saldana, Kate Hudson – all proof you don’t need big boobs to be famous and awesome.

4. Shopping is (mostly) easier.

I'll take everything

Ok, so tops might not always fit perfectly and strapless dresses might not always look exactly like you thought they would in your head (although nine times out of ten, they’ll look great). But there are so many styles that look good, and you don’t have to worry about buttoning them up, falling out of them or buying an impossible secret invisible bra. Spree time!

5. You won’t get boob-related pain

HoneyBooBoo awesome gif

That’s right, you don’t have to worry about back pain. Not from boobs, anyway. In fact you might even have better posture over time, as nothing is weighing you down.

6. Things fit better (without any awkwardness)

Bette Davis seatbelts comment

Seatbelts, cross body bags, guitars and being strapped into, well, anything really.

7. You can sleep on your stomach

sleeping

You don’t have to position yourself so your boobs don’t get in the way, which means way more nighttime poses to choose from – and maybe fewer sleepless nights too.

8. They might change over time.

Joey sand boobs

Loads of women find that their boobs change as they get older. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn to love them just as they are, though – you totally should. But they might get bigger. They might change shape.

And they might not, but that’s where learning to love them comes in.

9. Bra shopping is (mostly) easier…

Lauren Conrad too easy

Yes it can be daunting to buy bras when you feel like your boobs are too small. But hear me out. Having small boobs means you can choose lovely dainty bralets, rather than bras built for support with lots of underwiring.

Think lacy and pretty. Simple and sporty. You can fake boobs with padding now and again if you want to try something new – or just embrace your A-cup realness. So much choice!

10. …And you can go braless whenever you want

New Girl boob unemployed

Sure you can wear a whole universe of different bras when you have small boobs… but you can go totally braless whenever you like too. In fact, we all can if we want to. Freedom!

@BeccaCaddy

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Because finding a swimsuit that loves your bazoomas can be a bit of a costume drama…

You will put it off for as long as humanly possible

And then you will put it off some more

When you finally decide to go, there are actually loads of things you like!

“Hey,” you think to yourself, “Maybe this won’t be so bad.”

You try the first one on. Oh, no wait, that must be backwards. You turn it around. Oh, wait, that’s worse.

You try and wrestle your boobs into place, but they put up a good fight.

They. Are. Everywhere.

Who even invented string bikinis? They are so weak a tiny dog could overpower them.

And my boobs are the size and weight of a tiny dog. Each.

You keep thinking about that film where Kate Upton ran along the beach with, like, *NO* support…

So that must have hurt like a b***h.

Remember five minutes ago, when you were all excited and optimistic? Ha.


Now, here you are trying to keep control of your boobs as they spill out over this piece of dental floss in every direction known to man.

You decide to try on a plunging neckline. You are almost certain it will look awful, but there’s that thought in the back of your head:

“What if I actually look smoking hot?”

Where is… where is all the material?

DID THEY FORGET TO SEW ENTIRE BITS OF THIS TOGETHER?

Wait, maybe this is ‘the look’? Maybe everyone is meant to be able to see your nipples?

Maybe it’s a feminist statement!

This is not the look. You are not meant to be able to see your nipples. This is not a feminist statement.

The shop assistant yells, “How’s it going in there?”

It’s probably best not to tell her you’re having an existential crisis in the change rooms.

You start giving yourself a pep talk. You will not be defeated by a swimming costume.

You try on another one and look at yourself in the mirror.

Why don’t people understand that your boobs need support?

They need to be taken care of. They need a buddy to lift them up and help them out.

Right, this one has underwire. Underwire is key. Underwire is your friend. Underwire is life.

Ok it literally looks like I’m just wearing a bra.

Why can’t I just wear one of those cute triangle bikinis like other girls? Why must every bikini that fits me be designed to look like a 1950s pin up girl? I do. Not. Want. Polka. Dots.

And it is so uncomfortable. I want to be able to relax, I don’t want bits of wire sticking into my ribcage while I’m lying by the pool!

You wiggle out of the cozzies and heap them into a pile to give back to the shop assistant.

You are Julia Roberts, except you have nothing but anxiety and mild neck strain to show for your efforts.

Screw this. Go and take your knockers out for cake.

This is what ASOS was invented for.

@LilyPesch

Image: Amber Griffin

One of the best things about having an older sister is listening to her life advice, right? Bras, boys, big life decisions like whether or not you should buy a watermelon cozzie or book a flight and go travelling once school is out. Well, betty has a VIP pass to a group of girls that are sharing their words of wisdom, too. Because there’s always room for more embarrassing stories we can learn from. Awkward sex chats, fashion mistakes, first kisses, her celebrity crush…TV and radio presenter Olivia reveals *everything* about growing up. And you’ve got a front row seat.

Do you remember the joy you felt in primary school when you learnt that you could spell boobs on a calculator if you just typed in 80085? It was a joyous time, filled with giggling and this idea that you’re in on a secret. But how many secrets are your boobs still hiding? Take this quiz to find out.

Men have nipples and breasts because all fetuses are female at first.

Giphy

Women with inverted nipples are more likely to have twins.

Giphy

Sleeping facedown can change the shape of your breasts over time.

Giphy

If you massage your breasts continuously for four hours, you’ll be able to lactate.

Giphy

When breasts are fully developed, they should be exactly identical.

Giphy

Some women can have an orgasm through nipple stimulation alone.

Giphy

Humans are the only primates that permanently have breasts. Everyone else just grows them when they’re breastfeeding.

Giphy

The average cup size in the UK is a 36DD.

Giphy

The pinky/brownish skin around your nipple is called a Nipular Halo.

Giphy

On average, women own eight different bras.

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Breasts got the nickname ‘boobs’ from Edith Boob, who was the first woman to have a breast enlargement.

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Tenderness in your boobies pre-period is caused by the surge of estrogen and progesterone in your body.

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Ahh, boobs. You fickle funbags. While some of us might spend our teen years feeling like we’re perpetually at the back of the boob queue, others wish they hadn’t been given double helpings. Some people like Liz.

“It seems most girls are thrilled when puberty arrives and the bee stings on their chest blossom into lovely lady lumps,” says Liz. “I was the same. Age 14-15, I went from being basically inverted to a full B cup over the summer. I had been in high school for a year and was jealous of the older girls walking around in all their booby glory so now, life was good.

“But then my full B cups were spilling over my bra by autumn, and my new C cups soon turned into D cups and finally settled at G cups. Suddenly, I had humungo boobs; huge, big, giant, obnoxious breasts at the ripe age of 16.”

elderly women

“One weekend, I went into the brand new Victoria’s Secret that had just opened up. Heading inside with all intentions of finding a beautiful bra to make myself feel better about the boulders on my chest, I asked to be measured to find my perfect fit. The sales girl looked at my chest then looked at me and smirked, “we don’t carry your size here”. I ended up going to a specialist bra shop and getting two beige bras with thick straps. I felt 50 years old.”

Breast friends forever?

When even wearing three bras at once didn’t kill the jiggle, Liz found herself slowly quitting the sports she’d loved when she was younger. “I struggled shopping at all the cool stores with my friends as none of the tops fit. Soon enough I was dreading nights out. I could no longer count on my fingers and toes how many times I had been asked if my boobs were real (as if that’s a question that you can ask a stranger on the street!). Every conversation I had was being directed at my boobs, as if they had the ability to answer back – my face didn’t matter, the only thing that existed was my boobs.”

After enduring pack pain, bad posture and dents in both her shoulders and her self-esteem, at 19 Liz decided to take action – and it was bye-bye boobs. After several doctor’s appointments, some awkward paper nightgown action and a year of waiting, she had a breast reduction operation and went from an (OM)G cup down to a more manageable DD.

Joey boobs

“All and all, my breast reduction was a huge decision, I did not take it lightly,” says Liz. “I researched, I asked questions, I weighed pros and cons and came to the conclusion it was the right call for me. The process was scary, it wasn’t easy and it does hurt, but for me it was the best decision I could have made and I don’t regret it. Not for one second.”

The bare facts on boob reductions
  • It’s usually day surgery – you can be in and out in under 8 hours.
  • If the size of your boobs is affecting your health, you might be able to have a free breast reduction on the NHS.
  • The way your boobs look fresh out of surgery is not always how they'll stay – they might still grow, shrink and change shape.
  • As with any surgery, there are risks – so do your research, talk to your doctor and know every detail. Even the gross ones.

The biggest perks… according to Liz

1. Shopping

I can shop in regular shops and get shirts and dresses that fit!” says Liz. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many styles that just were not meant for bigger boobs but it’s a million times better than it was pre-op.”

2. Getting active

I can go to the gym, play sport and run around with my nephew so much more easily. I still double-bra but that’s for my own comfort and even some of my friends sporting the B and C cups double bra so it’s not that bad.”

3. Body confidence

“I’m happy with how I look topless. Not thrilled – I haven’t made it there yet – but I don’t feel like an 80-year-old lady when my top is off anymore.”

4. Less pain

“Yeah, back pain is a part of getting older… but if I hadn’t done something about it when I did, I might be a hunchback by now. Or at least in more pain than a young woman should have to deal with.”

5. Bras

“I can buy cute ones that don’t cost £200 and only come in boring old-lady white and old-lady beige. There is no massive indent on my shoulder and my bras last a year before giving up on life, as opposed to before my reduction, when I had a three-month window before the weight of the boobies took over…”

6. Social life

“People still stare, make obnoxious comments and oggle at my boobs; but because I’m more confident in myself and know that they’re not as giant as they were, it means I can stand proud, be less self-conscious and not feel like I’m a giant walking boob.”

7. Sleeping

“Sleeping with big boobs is ridiculous. When you lie on your back you feel like they’re suffocating you as they either roll up to you chin, or flop onto your sides like the parting of the sea. Side-sleeping isn’t much better as your cleavage goes up to your neck and gets hot and sweaty… and let’s not even talk about lying on your tum. Smoosh central. So with a smaller chest, sleep isn’t as difficult.”

8. Comfort

“I’m not saying I’m a prancing ball of comfort or anything, but straight up, I don’t struggle with my bra and clothes, I don’t lose crisps and crumbs into the deep abyss that was my cleavage, people stare less, hit them accidentally while hand-talking less, and seat belts fit comfortably between them now. Which is nice.”

9. My parents

“I think the worst thing for a parent is to see your child in pain. Both of my parents felt helpless, but did whatever they could to make me feel better about what I looked like and how I felt (thanks guys). Your fam and friends go through rough times with you and we are so lucky to have these people in our lives. Mine saw me gain confidence and be a happier person because of this ordeal.”

10. Helping others

“The best thing I did for myself was following my gut and getting my boob reduction. Other girls struggling with the decision shouldn’t go through it alone. This is a major decision that should not be taken lightly as this surgery is not for everyone. If I can give just one girl some comfort by sharing my own personal experience then that is definitely one of the best things about getting one.”

If you want to find out more about boob reductions, take a look at the NHS website.

Illustration: Katie Edmunds