Direction

A lot of people have written asking if I will ever update again, and I don’t want to leave you hanging.

The answer is that I am not sure where this blog is going. When I began this blog I was still working out what bras fit me and worked best for my shape. I was also several cup sizes smaller than I am now.

My breasts have grown a lot since I began this blog. When I started here, I was approximately a smallish 34GG in UK sizes. I was trying all sorts of bras and brands: Fantasie, Freya, Panache, Ewa Michalak, Empreinte, Curvy Kate, Kris Line, Cleo, etc. I was excited about new bra collections from most brands.

These days my boobs are much larger and the only UK brand which reliably fits me is Panache. I don’t get excited about new collections from other brands anymore, because I know they won’t fit me. Why bother? Fantasie of England was once my absolute favorite brand in terms of design aesthetic, but their fit is terrible for someone with a full on top bust, so I don’t even look at their new offerings anymore.

On top of that, Panache made some changes to my formerly-favorite bra, the Andorra. Starting in 2013 they changed the fabric and cut of the bra slightly, and as a result it is no longer a great fit for me. I’ve seen some indications that they have reverted to the old cut in fall 2014 bras, but it’s still really depressing to have your most reliable bra suddenly stop fitting.

I don’t love Panache bras, because I think their materials and especially straps do not justify their price point. Although they are slowly improving, they are weak on prints and fabrics in general. I wear Panache bras because (with a lot of tweaking) they are the best fit for me at this time. (I might possibly be able to wear Cleo bras, but I do not buy them because I hate their narrow bands and flimsy straps.)

So, I am just not sure I will be writing many more bra reviews. (I might write one more, a capsule review of a brand, not of a bra.) I don’t feel excited about them anymore. I have tried on SO MANY bras and more of them haven’t fit me than have. (It is when I realized this trend that my reviews started to fall off, because who wants a blog full of almost only negative reviews? I don’t know if people want to read that, but I find the idea of writing it depressing.) Now I just buy the same 3-4 bras when they come out in new colorways I like, and hope for the best.

As my breasts have grown, it has become more and more difficult for me to find a good fit. I have a relatively small torso and my breasts basically cover it from armpit to armpit and from collarbone almost to elbow. My boobs are very deep, and my tissue is more toward the top than the bottom of the breast. This just isn’t the boob that most bra makers are designing for. At this point in my life there is no bra available to me that really fits me well and is what I like (I’m not willing or able to spend the money and time figuring out if Comexim bras will fit me, especially since most of their bras are padded.)

Al of my old reviews are for bras that aren’t being made anymore, so I might actually take them down. Or maybe I will find the time and passion to finish the series on bra construction and engineering that has been in my queue, as that’s much more interesting to my nerdy brain than are bra reviews.

I just, in general, lack the commitment and sustained interest in being a regular, every-day or even every-week blogger. So we will see where this goes.

So, what’s new?

The gap between this post and my last one has been much longer than intended. I meant to write a follow up the following week, but life got in the way. In the months since my last post, I’ve dealt with major health struggles of my own, multiple major illnesses in my family, and a devastating sudden death in my immediate family that still has me reeling. Right now I am trying to deal with my health, start a business, and preparing to move across the country in two weeks. It’s all very overwhelming.

As I feared and half-expected, my last post stirred up some controversy. People do not like to have their privilege pointed out to them, or to be called on their bad behavior, however indirectly or obliquely. So I did experience some backlash: some people attempted to assassinate my character, using the same tired old derailing claim that pointing out, objecting to, or talking about racism, body-hatred, misogyny, etc is “the same” as espousing racism, body-hate, misogyny, etc. I am pleased to say though that their comments, though, were a minority.

What I also experienced, was an enormous outpouring of support in the comments here, on Twitter, and in emails and IMs on social media. For that support I am intensely grateful. Thank you, to all of you who commented, who reached out, who messaged me. It’s nice to know that I am not shouting into a void, that I am not the only one who thinks that racism, body-hatred, misogyny, and just plain meanness are not okay. That means a lot! Not just that you feel that way, but that you took the time to reach out: you made an effort to connect with another person and be supportive and that’s awesome.

So what’s next for Rock The Curves? Well, I hope to get back to posting, but the format of posts will be different. Not every bra needs its own post. I am also more interested in reviewing other things besides bras, and in curves-oriented writing that isn’t about reviews at all. But, this blog is really taking a back seat to my many other projects. I want you, though, to keep in touch! Don’t be afraid to nudge me on social media like Facebook.

The Negative Parts of Blogging

I have been very slack in my bra blogging, and there’s a reason.

One reason I started this blog was to be a part of the community of bra bloggers. Most of them seemed like nice folks. But since then, I’ve seen a dark side of these blogs, and honestly, it depresses the hell out of me. It makes me tired.

I’m tired, for example, of the blatant, unapologetic racism that I see on so many blogs and even from retailers in this community. I’m tired of being shouted down and called a troll when I ask questions about this, or when I very gently point out that actually, racism isn’t cool or okay.

I’m tired of seeing bloggers refer to certain shapes, either of bodies, or of body parts, as “bad” or “ugly” or even “hideous”. News flash: somewhere out there, a woman shaped like that sees your blog and feels bad about herself or her body. Is it necessary to insult someone to express a personal preference? Of course not.

I’m tired of the nasty stereotyping that I encounter: stereotyping of people based on their ethnicity, their region of origin, their appearance, their size.

I’m tired of people snarking other people’s bodies, insulting them, speculating about their lives, their psychological state, and their lifestyles. You actually can’t tell anything about someone’s life from how they look.

I am tired of interacting with people who believe that they are entitled to make comments about other people’s bodies, that bodies are somehow common property, and that I, or others, are obligated to provide for them a platform to make these comments.

Incidentally, and this is the least of my worries, I am tired of people misinforming others. If you plan to advise people and educate them, take the trouble to know your stuff first. Other wise, you’re not helping, you are part of the problem.

I encounter all of this, and more, in the bra and lingerie blogging community. I seem to be one of the few people bothered by it! I’m not the only one, of course: Brittany at Thin and Curvy and Cora at The Lingerie Addict have both blogged about some of these issues. But, it seems that most bloggers, retailers, and manufacturers think racism and body snark are perfectly fine and dandy.

Dealing with all of these things depresses me. In the beginning, I tried responding to the incredibly rude comments I would sometimes receive here with politeness and compassion. I just don’t have that same patience anymore. Maybe it’s because the dew is off the rose, and rude comments aren’t just a fluke, they seem to have become part and parcel of this genre.

When I get rude or nasty comments here, I don’t publish them. But I still see them, and they still wear me down. Like the recent comments I got giving me “diet tips”, or the comments claiming that “all women in Texas have enormous implants.” Or the comment raging at me because the commenter disagreed with my assessment of a particular bra. None of this shit is acceptable, but people are still doing it. It gets me down. It makes me feel overwhelmingly negative about this whole thing.

Bands, Underwires, and Depth

I’ve been dealing with a fitting problem I haven’t really seen addressed anywhere. Over the last couple of years, my breasts have continued growing. They went from a 34G, to a 34GG, to a 34H. The growth is mainly happening at the top of my breasts: basically, the boobs have grown toward my collarbone. There has been no decrease in tissue elsewhere, it’s all volume growth.

However, my breasts are still pretty narrow, and I need narrow underwires and deep cups. Unfortunately, I have found that when I wear my 34 bands as tight as I need them to be for best support, the underwires on my bras  are pulled too far open, causing the cup to distort. This distortion makes the cups more shallow in fit, so I get quad-boob. The shallowness also starts pushing my boobs out of the top of the cup, so the quad-boob gets worse and worse as the day goes on.

I have tried going up a band size, which doesn’t help. All of my daytime bras right now are by Panache (because they are the best fit I can find for my heavy, very top-full boobs. Fantasie has weak underwires and is cut for FOB, and Freya also has weak wires.) A 36GG in Panache is actually more shallow than a 34H cup; the cup is taller, but it has less volume overall. So it’s too small and I get quad-boob. I tried going to a 36H, and ended up with cup that is a little too big: it’s too wide, too tall, and digs into my armpit. A 34HH is also too wide and tall.

So, for the moment I am wearing my 34H bras very loose. It means I get good projection and narrow cups, but it also means that the straps often sit right in my shoulder joint (very painful) and though my bands don’t ride up in back, sometimes the cups do slide down a little in front, which in turn gives me some quad-boob.

I really don’t know of any other options for me right now, in terms of getting a good fit. When I was a 34GG, I had a much easier time getting a good, narrow fit in a bra. Once I went above a GG, things got a lot harder.

Mini-Review: Elomi Betty

Photo by Eveden

While I was hunting for a plunge bra a few weeks back (the trip where I ended up buying a Deco) one of the bras I tried on was the Elomi Betty. This is a really cute bra, but I had never gone looking for it, for a few reasons: the pictures I had seen on models didn’t look as though it would fit me, and also, Elomi bras often come up too wide for me.

The fitter, however, brought me the Betty in black and pink, (and I think in 34GG) and I decided to give it a try-on.

Photo by Eveden

Photo by Eveden

First impressions: wow, this bra is very pretty! Photos do not do it justice. The pink dots on black fabric look classy and elegant, but also cute. The fabric is very lightweight and sheer. The rose details are feminine and kind of retro, and I love the pink bows, which are a little bigger than on most bras.

Elomi Betty is a 4-part cup, with side support, and a plunging neckline. The plunge style means it isn’t full-coverage, but it still has more coverage than, say, a Deco. The coverage reminded me of the Fantasie Savannah. It’s a plunge, but not a cleavage-booster.

Once I got it on, I continued to be impressed: the Betty seems to have narrower wires than other Elomi bras. The wires don’t go back behind my armpits, but end around halfway into them. It is about on par with a wider Fantasie style like the Lynsey. That means it is a little wider than necessary for me, but not too wide for me to wear. The cups are also quite deep, which is a necessity for me.

Most of the photos I’ve seen of other women wearing Betty looked really wide from the front, but on me, Betty gave me a surprisingly narrow look. My breasts were mostly inside my frame. (I did a little more research while writing this, and based on photos, it seems to get wider as sizes go up.)

I’ve heard that Elomi bras don’t give much lift. At least in Betty’s case, this wasn’t true. Betty gave me an uplifted look with a nice, natural profile, neither too round nor too pointy. It just looked very feminine and good.

And, Betty is comfortable! The fabric is very soft and lightweight, the band is wide, the whole thing conspires to make a very comfortable bra. The band is also very firm, which I always like in a bra.

Unfortunately, there was one major downer to the Betty: once I gathered my breasts into the bra, the top edge of the cup dug into my flesh slightly. Oh, so sad! (Interestingly, the top edge of the Betty actually has a piece of slightly stretchy elastic sewn in, unlike other Eveden bras I have worn.) Sizing up in the cup would have given me a too-wide cup.

So, I didn’t buy the Betty. But I’ve been thinking about that bra a lot! You know how it is, with some bras, you can start out with a little quad-boob, and it goes away after they settle in a bit. But sometimes, it can get worse. I have also been wondering if I could take that elastic off and solve the digging problem, because it was very specifically the elastic that was the problem, not the lace section of the cup.

I am thinking of grabbing a Betty off of eBay to see if I can make it work. It’s just too cute!

Check out The Full Figured Chest’s review of the Elomi Betty, including a beautiful photo.

Review: My First Deco

The Freya Deco Plunge (4234) is pretty famous in the bra world. It is, as far as I know, the best-known and best-selling plunge bra on the full-busted market. That’s actually ironic, because it only goes up to a GG cup! Within its size range, though, the Deco has a lot of fans.

I never had any intention of buying a Deco, to be honest. I’m not a big fan of contour cups, or any molded cups really. However, I recently had an evening event to attend, and the dress I ended up buying was very low-cut. My main, everyday bra right now is the Panache Andorra, and the dress was cut a few inches below the gore. I needed a plunge bra and I needed it in a hurry.

I was in Sacramento, CA for the event, and the local indie bra shop told me that they had NO plunges in my size. I called the local Nordstrom, and they told me that they had Andorra plunge in my size. When I got there, though, this turned out to be untrue: they had only Andorra full cups. However, they did have some Deco plunges (even though on the phone, the associate had told me that all their plunges were unpadded.)

I tried a Deco plunge in 34GG. I’ve heard from a lot of people that the Deco runs large in band and in cup, but to my surprise, this was not true of those I tried, both black. The band and the cup were too small on this bra. I asked for a 36GG, but the SA brought me a 36G and said it was all they had. (I found that the cup on the 36G was exactly the same as the cup on the 34GG, which is good info for those into sister sizing.)

At this point, I had no other options: I had to get back to the conference, I needed a plunge bra and the local bra shop had nothing for me. So, I bought the 36G. The fit was not ideal: I spilled out in the center, causing quad-boob, and I had to adjust the cups often because of this. I think in a 36GG, I would have been more secure.

Regardless of size, though, I don’t think Deco is very supportive; it’s just too open in the front, and without seams, it doesn’t manage my heavy breasts very well. I just didn’t get a lot of lift from it, not as much as I get from bras like the Panache Andorra, or Jasmine, or the Cleo Sasha/Alexa. It is more like a platform that moves my breasts forward and inward. It’s a special occasion bra, not an everyday bra. I am not sure if this situation would be improved by the right size.

The Deco also did not actually give me much cleavage; that is, I didn’t have more cleavage than I do with the Panache Andorra. What the Deco did, though, was get out of the way so my natural cleavage could shine: the low-cut center exposed a lot of my breast tissue, especially in the center. I don’t think I’ve ever actually worn something so low-cut before.

deco-cleavage

Go ahead, get lost in my fabulous cleavage. I’ll wait.

What you can’t really see in these close-up pics is another great feature of the Deco: it largely places my breasts inside my frame. I like my breasts to be in front of me, not sticking out to the side, and Deco totally delivers. I mean, I know I am running out of room on the front of my torso, so I don’t expect miracles, but for the most part, the boobs are inside my frame.

I was surprised to find that the Deco has only two hooks in the back, even in GG sizes. The bra wasn’t terribly uncomfortable, but I prefer a wider band. I was pleased, though, with straps, which were very comfortable. They are far superior to the straps on the Andorra: Deco’s straps have almost no stretch, which is awesome.

I was impressed with how comfortable the Deco was overall. It was comfy for several hours. I also think that the fit is pretty good: it is narrow and deep. I’ve realized now that I really do need to have a plunge bra in my collection, so while this one isn’t a good fit, I’m going to be looking out for this fall’s Deco Charm, a gorgeous silver-and-black confection.

DECO-CHARM-SILVER-UNDERWIRED-MOULDED-PLUNGE-BRA-1471

Misogyny At Ewa Michalak

I have something to be annoyed about today: the idea that there is something wrong with breasts which do not suit the conventional ideal of beauty or attractiveness. Ok, so really, that idea is annoying every day, right? But it’s especially annoying when propagated by a lingerie company.

Today’s offender is Ewa Michalak, the notoriously overrated Polish bra company which took the blog world by storm a few years ago. Ewa Michalak introduced a new style of bra, called “S”. It is supposedly a kind of cross between a plunge and a half-cup: like a plunge, but with a higher center gore.

I am annoyed today because of a conversation I saw on Facebook: apparently Ewa Michalak markets the “S” style bra this way: “The bra is suitable for every kind of bust, however it was specially designed for ‘difficult’ breasts as well as those in poor condition.” A Facebook user asked what EM means by “poor condition”, and they received this response:

Poor condition means the breasts are no longer firm, they resemble jelly (sorry for the comparison:) or simply are saggy.

My immediate response to this opinion isn’t fit for all audiences. Suffice to say that obscenities were involved. This attitude- that breasts which are not “firm”, or which are “saggy” are “in poor condition”, has no basis at all in fact. It is an inherently misogynist opinion.

You might be surprised by that last sentence, or may not understand why the comment is misogynist. So, let’s unpack that.

First, what does “condition” mean, when it comes to bodies and body parts? It means the general health of the body or part in question. A breast is therefore in good condition if it is healthy: if it is not diseased, not injured, and if it is able to perform its function (in the case of breasts, their function is to produce milk to feed babies.) Size, firmness, and degree of ptosis (aka “droop”) have no bearing whatsoever on the health of a breast. They are therefore irrelevant to its condition. Soft breasts are no less healthy than firm breasts; breasts with a lot of ptosis are no less healthy than breasts which have little or no ptosis.

By what measure, then, are soft or saggy breasts “in poor condition”? That measure is the one which says that breasts exist to be looked upon, and that a breast which does not conform to the dominant ideal of attractiveness has something wrong with it. That measure is inherently misogynist! It is based on the idea that women and our breasts exist for men’s sexual pleasure, not for our own purposes. That is the idea which is inherently misogynist. Women, and their bodies, do not exist for the purpose of men’s pleasure, or for any pleasure except our own.

My breasts happen to have a lot of ptosis. They are also quite firm! And according to my gynecologist, who examined them just the other day, they are also in great condition. And again, breast condition is not a matter of breast appearance.

It’s possible that EM is not the only lingerie company to make such a deeply misogynist statement about women’s bodies. However, I haven’t seen any such remarks from another lingerie company, and I would be very surprised if I saw a remark like this from a UK company.

For a very long time, companies have marketed things to us by trying to make us feel bad about ourselves. I reject this. I personally don’t buy things from any company whose marketing strategy is to insult women’s bodies, so I definitely won’t be buying anything from Ewa Michalak.

Since some people will ask, here is what I would like to see from EM; here is how they can correct this issue:

  • Change the language marketing the “S” style. Instead of saying this style is for breasts in “poor condition”, they could say that the S Style is for soft breasts or breasts with a lot of ptosis (to be honest, I think this is a bogus marketing claim, but at least it wouldn’t be misogynist.)
  • Issue an apology for the body-policing and misogynist language that is currently on the site.
  • Make a real commitment to avoiding such language in the future.

I think these are reasonable, very easy ways to address this issue. Do you think they are suitable? If not, what solutions would you like to see?

The Search For Face Powder

I’ve recently been in the market for a new face powder, and the process of finding one is so stressful!

Part of the problem is that I have very, very pale, neutral skin, and you would be surprised how hard it is to find a powder that matches me. My paleness means that if it’s too yellow or too pink, that shows up in a big way. Drugstore powders tend to be limited in color, so I have to go higher-end.

I used MAC Studio Fix for years. I love it, it looked flawless and matched me pretty well. The coverage was light (when applied with a brush) and smoothed out my skin without looking like a mask: it looked dewy but not shiny, and it lasted all day. But my esthetician friend convinced me that it was clogging my pores. (My only major skin problem is congested pores.) So, I switched to MAC Studio Tech, which settled in my pores and every tiny line on my face, yuck.

So, I stopped using MAC and switched to Stila Illuminating Powder Foundation. The Stila foundation did nothing for my pores (a combination of keratolytics did that) and it also didn’t have much coverage or do much illuminating.

So, I need a new powder. I’m willing to go back to Studio Fix, but thought I would try a few other things first. I did some research and wanted to try LORAC Porefection Baked powder, and also LORAC powder foundation. I went to Sephora and the first MUA I talked to said that a)she hates Studio Fix and b) Sephora doesn’t carry LORAC in stores anymore and won’t ever again. She told me Macy’s carried LORAC. I trotted over to Macy’s, where the SA had never heard of LORAC. She talked me into trying Smashbox Photo Set powder foundation. It was okay, but not great: it seemed to cling to my pores, was a bit chalky, and also, there’s not a lot of product in the pan for $30.

Today I was at JCPenney shopping for a cocktail dress, and lo and behold, they had an in-store Sephora. I went in and was treated to a very knowledgeable MUA helping me out. We did try the LORAC powders; the powder foundation turned out to not match me very well; the baked powder had a good match but was a little greasy-looking. She MUA also tried some Make Up For Ever Pro Finish powder foundation on me, and while the shade wasn’t as good a match as the LORAC, the MUFA had a great texture and finish.

So, I bought the MUFA. When I got home an hour or so later, though, it had settled into my pores and wasn’t looking so hot. So, the question now is: do I stick with this and give it a shot, or do I just throw in the towel and go back to MAC?

I am not convinced that MAC was breaking me out, at all, but I’m not convinced it wasn’t, either. I do know that switching to Stila didn’t fix my pores; it was a combination of keratolytic cleansers and creams that did that.

Charlotte, Oh Charlotte

charlottepeach

I was really excited to hear, earlier this summer, that Parfait by Affinitas is expanding their size range. I’ve always wanted to try their bras, but since they only went up to a G cup, I was out of luck, seeing as how I need a 34H in most bras these days. Now they are extending sizes up to J, and I am thrilled!

One bra I’ve been coveting for years now is the Charlotte padded “plunge”. I put “plunge” in quotes because although Parfait calls this a plunge, it really looks more like a balconette. I’m not a big fan of padded bras, but I do want to have a few to wear when clubbing, and the Charlotte’s retro look really draws me in. It also gives a really uplifted shape, as you can see in Sophia Jenner’s review.

I’ve never really been impressed with the original red and black colorway, but when Parfait released the peach-and-black Charlotte, I fell in love. It just looks so feminine, and the peach color is in my opinion very elegant.

charlottepeachI am so looking forward to trying on this bra and some other Parfait by Affinitas offerings in the new size range. I’ve heard that some lucky bloggers will be receiving a few to review, and I’m envious!

Gathering In The Breast: Why Do We “Swoop and Scoop”?

Through a recent online conversation, I discovered that some people new to bra fitting have the wrong idea about “gathering in” the breast, also known as the “swoop and scoop” move. They thought that the purpose of gathering in was to address tissue migration or make the breasts bigger. This is absolutely not the case!

A little background, for those readers who might also be new to bra fitting: there is a method to properly putting on a bra, especially an underwire bra. You don’t just put it on your body and leave it. You put it on, but then you have to make sure that all your breast tissue is in the cup, and that the bra is sitting in the right place on your body: the band should be horizontal below your breasts, the wires should not be sitting on top of any breast tissue. The wires should also not be sitting too low, or too high: they should not come right into the crease of your breast, but sit right below. There should also be a little space between breast and underwire on your sides, but not a lot. And of course, this is an average: most breasts are not actually shaped like an underwire, so you might have a little more space around the breast in one area and a little less in another. It all evens out.

Part of putting on a bra is gathering your breast tissue into the cup. The method of doing this, some people call “swoop and scoop.”  You lean forward a little bit, and then with your hand, you reach into your bra and move all your breast tissue forward into the cup. Once you stand up straight, you can then distribute the tissue as needed in the cup: for example, if when gathering-in, your tissue fell forward and is bulging a little at the top of the cup, you can use your finger tips to smooth that down, and settle the tissue into the cup. In some contour bras, you need to grab the bra and drag it up a little to settle your tissue into the bottom of the cup.

The reason for gathering in is simple: when you just set a bra on your body, all of your breast tissue will not automatically be inside the cup. Remember, a bra band should not be loose, at all: it should be under tension around your body. That tension means that the bra can actually be sitting on top of your breasts instead of the breasts being inside the bra cups. You have to manipulate the bra into the correct position.

Gathering in also helps with determining proper fit. In a properly-fitted bra, just putting the bra on the body (without situating it) will leave the cups somewhat empty, with breast tissue bulging all around it. Gathering-in fills the cup. In a too-small cup (regardless of band) gathering-in will cause overflow of the cup.

Most women, large-breasted or small, have some breast tissue in the armpit. Some women have more, and some women have less; some  have tissue extending further into the armpit, and some have tissue extending far into the armpit. No matter how much or how far, improper technique or fit can result in underwire or band sitting on that breast tissue, which is painful and damaging to the breasts. When you gather in the tissue, you are putting the wires in their right place, encircling the breast tissue and supporting it, instead of sitting on it. This is why we gather the tissue into the cup.

 It is not in order to make breasts bigger, and it isn’t in order to address tissue migration. It is a properly-fitted bra that addresses tissue migration; a badly-fitted bra will not, even if you gather in. And tissue migration itself is not a huge volume, it is a slight shifting of volume from one part of the breast to another, most of which is fluid (as our bodies are mostly made of fluid.) A bra-related large change in shape or volume is often assumed to be tissue migration, when in fact it is remodeling of the breast. A properly-fitted bra also aids in remodeling.

Gathering in does not move glandular breast tissue from under the arm, to the front of the chest. Nor does it make the breasts bigger.

I know that without illustrations, this entry might not be entirely clear. So if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them. If you want to submit photos of what the above situations look like, feel free to do that too!

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