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.

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

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.

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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

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.

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Women with inverted nipples are more likely to have twins.

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

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

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

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Some women can have an orgasm through nipple stimulation alone.

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

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

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

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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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If there’s one thing we love (apart from chatting about periods and girl power, obvs) it’s a girls’ night with our favourite crew. This month, vlogger @JustJodes hosted our mega-sleepover, inviting along her squad for face scrubs, movies and popcorn. Here, the YouTube star talks to betty about puberty, fashion and growing up – plus, you get a sneaky look at all the BTS fun!

A lot of teens worry about the fact that they don’t have boobs yet.

I spent many a PE class reassuring one of my friends that just because she had a chest like an ironing board, it didn’t mean that it’d stay that way forever – and that even if it did, it didn’t matter, because Sian Hughes from the year above didn’t have big boobs either and she was the living embodiment of the heart-eyes emoji. AA-cup anxiety affected a fair chunk of the girls in my year, and I was always sympathetic. It’s no fun having a body that won’t behave the way you want it to.

But that being said, I found it hard to really empathise with the flat-chested girls… because boobs exploded out of my chest at 11 like a puberty bomb had gone off inside me, and nothing has been the same since.

I’m not exaggerating. It happened overnight. My auntie went away for a week during boobageddon and her first words when she came through the door were “Where did those come from?!”. The training bra I’d been wearing for a month or so was a little loose on the Tuesday but wouldn’t do up on the Wednesday. I had to wear one of my mum’s blouses to school because my school shirt didn’t do up over my newly boobalicious body.

Not having a bra to control my brand new bosoms, I spent the rest of the week walking around with my arms crossed so that they didn’t bounce away from me and take out a passing cyclist. First thing on Saturday, my mum and I went to Debenhams to get me fitted for a proper bra; I’d gone from an AA to a B cup in five days.

Initially, I was delighted. I bought the prettiest bras I could find and spent ages dancing around in front of the mirror in them. I had a sleepover with my friends and let them try them on, stuffing the empty cups with loo roll. I doled out sage advice to schoolmates because, as I now had breasts, I was clearly a more mature and worldly person. It was wonderful.

Until it wasn’t. Not only did my boobs arrive in a spectacular and sudden fashion, they also decided that they quite liked it out in the great wide world – and so they kept growing. And growing. And growing.

By the time I was 15, I was an F Cup. I had been taken aside by a PE teacher and quietly told I might want to buy a sports bra. My friends who had smaller boobs were able to wear strappy or bandeau tops because they didn’t need to worry about a bra, whereas if I went braless I felt like my boobs had a mind of their own, energetically swing-dancing away with each other as I walked down the street.

amy-boobs

My boobs also made me a target for bullies. I once overheard a girl in a geography lesson telling a boy I fancied that the only reason I had big boobs was because I was so chubby – that they weren’t real boobs, they were “just extra fat”. I wish I could go back to that lesson and ask her two things – firstly, what did it matter if I was chubby? Secondly, what the hell did she think boobs were? Newsflash: they’re made of fat! Not special glamorous rainbow fat – the same stuff we have on our thighs and our tummies and all over our bodies. Ridiculous.

But there were good points about having big boobs, too. My mum took me to the grown-up shops to find clothes that fit my new body, so I ended up in adult fashion that my friends wouldn’t get their hands on for years. And some of those clothes looked great on me – true, I avoided boob tubes, but no-one in my year could fill out a vintage 50s dress like I did.

These days I’m a size GG, although I’ve been as big as a J cup. My bra size goes up and down depending on my weight, where in my menstrual cycle I am, and sometimes just because they feel like it. I spent years worrying about my boobs when I was a teenager, but as an adult we’ve become friends. I treat them to expensive, well-fitting bras and in return get to look amazing in a V-neck shirt.

Also, there’s no denying that boobs are kind of nice. They’re squishy and soft and warm, and the weight of them on my chest has been oddly comforting when doing scary new things, like starting a new school or going on my first date. They’re an excellent place to store your keys/lipbalm/phone, and occasionally I drop my lunch down there and it becomes a delicious surprise afternoon snack.

My breast size doesn’t make me more or less attractive than anyone else and I’d have a whole host of different challenges and perks (lol) if I was flat chested. Whether your boobs are big or small doesn’t make you better or worse, it just makes you different.

Now, I love my boobs. I love the way they jiggle when I’m dancing with my friends, and I give the cuddliest hugs because I have what is essentially two enormous pillows strapped to my front. They keep me warm in winter and act as handy flotation devices when I’m swimming in summer.

And I still think no-one looks better in a 50s-style dress than me.

@jimsyjampots

Image: Katie Edmunds

I find most women’s clothes uncomfortable. Skinny jeans leave me with angry red marks where the seams have practically grafted to my body. High waisted shorts give me tummy ache. My favourite clogs inevitably give me enormous blisters.

But it’s bras that are my real nemesis.

I have had bras that my nipple constantly escaped from like an overly enthusiastic jack-in-the-box. Bras that have given me blisters. Bras that have cut into my skin until I bled. Bras that felt more like torture devices from the 1800s than support vehicles for my chest.

Which is why the new breed of underwire-free bralettes are a dream. They’re comfy and soft and oh-so-pretty, and make a great compromise between going braless and strapping yourself into a serious Bra with a capital B.

I have enormous boobs, so for those of you out there who are thinking they are too ample of bosom to wear bralettes, I am living proof that there is no such thing. Sure, they don’t always give me enough support while I’m out and about, but the moment I get home the first thing I do is substitute my sturdy bra for a bralette as soft as the hair behind a unicorn’s ear.

Whether you want to wear them all day or just around the house, here our top picks for bralettes at the moment.

Bloomin’ brilliant

Spring is a long time away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still wear florals, right?

bralette H&M

Mesh triangle bra, H&M, £12.99

Flower power

Not only is this bralette beautiful at the front, look at the back! It’s stunning from every angle.

VS bralette

Floral racerback, Victoria’s Secret, £20.86

Bringin’ racer back

This bralette has the option to make it a racer back, so if you’ve got a *fuller* chest, this one might offer you some more support.

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Navy Daisy, Next, £15

Em-bra-dery 

This is the bralette that dreams are made of. It’s like an artwork without underwire, the dream.

TOPSHOP BRALETTE

Christina Floral, Topshop, £22

Dotty for bralettes

Polka dots are always adorable. This bralette is no exception.

MONKI BRA

Mesh bra, Monki, £15

S-meshing

If you’re wanting a hint of lace without being a full-on lace assault, this bralette is the one for you.

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Daisy, Next, £12

Soft, like velvet 

This one legitimately does feel like the hair behind a unicorn’s ear. It’s that soft.

 NEW LOOK BRALETTE

Navy, New Look, £9.99

See? Just like your headphones and your internet connection, maybe all the best things are wireless.