Why Telling a Woman She’s in the Wrong Bra Size May be Harmful

by Avigayil

Bravangelising is not a real word, but it is a term used in the lingerie community to describe a certain set of behaviours. The term combines the words ‘bra’ and ‘evangelising’ to represent an aggressive, outreach method of ‘preaching the truth’ about bra fit to convert women over to their ‘real/actual/proper’ size.

Bravangelising occurs through many mediums. On the internet, bravangelisers will comment on random pictures, articles, threads, and more to tell the person they cannot possibly be [insert bra size here], that they are really [insert new bra size here]. Bravangelising also occurs in families, in workplaces, and occasionally on the streets to complete strangers.

Some people may say there is little harm in letting someone know they might be wearing the wrong bra size. In fact, bravangalists usually think of their outreach as doing good: they believe that 80 to 90% of women wear the wrong bra size and that wearing the right bra size is a life-changing experience. For some women, this is true. However, there are myriad issues with this type of bra fit outreach that I am going to tackle today.


Breasts are enigmatic, changing things

Breasts come in lots of varieties: tall roots, short roots, wide, narrow, projected, shallow, bottom heavy, top heavy, side heavy, and the list goes on. Two women who have the same underbust and bust measurements can have extraordinarily different breasts. A simple set of measurements cannot dictate a woman’s ‘real size’ because measurements like these do not take into account shape and distribution variations.

For example, at a 36” underbust and 43” bust I should wear a 36F UK (+1 cup size for each inch using a +0 band method). However, my breasts are so shallow on top that I often have trouble filling out 36E bras and positively swim in 99% of 36F bras. Breasts are not a bra size.

Breasts also change. Women can gain an entire cup size over their monthly cycle due to hormone fluctuations. Weight fluxes of only a few pounds can also drop you out of one bra size and into another. A woman’s body is not stagnant and thus her bra size is not stagnant either.

Bras are not an exact science

There is no true bra size – a mythical combination of band size and cup size that is your chosen lot in life. You may be bra-fitted at a 34G but that size will change depending on both the brand and style of each bra. Bras of the same size may differ in projection, shape, width, height, and even volume.

For example, I was fitted at a 36E but I wear 36DD, 36E, 36F bras all in one same brand. I also wear 36D, 38D, and 38DD. In total, I wear six different bra sizes that fit my breasts. This is not congruent with bravangalising, which assigns you your ‘correct’ bra size: one size (and maybe sister sizes) to rule them all.


Bras are not necessary

I said it: bras are not necessary. Bras do not prevent sagging. In fact, according to a 15-year study by Jean-Denis Rouillon, bras might actually have the opposite effect. Rouillion told French Info, “Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity. On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra.”

While the study has its limitations, there has been no study (not sponsored by a bra company) that shows bras as necessary for breasts. Therefore, bras are more about style, preference, and social convention. How many women know that?

Bravangelising is all about women wearing their ‘correct’ bra size: it is built on an assumed foundation that bras are necessary. Bravangelists are not saying “bras aren’t really necessary, but if you are going to wear one, then you might as well make sure you wear one that fits well”. The necessity is assumed and results in a dogged pursuit of some assumed ideal size that will save the wearer from a lifetime of ill-fitting bras. Do you know another way not to wear the wrong bra size? It is to not wear a bra.



Bravangelising reinforces social norms and utilises body shaming

Bravangalising reinforces a multitude of harmful social norms. Social norms stipulate that women should wear bras to hide their nipples, prevent bouncing, and present their (covered) breasts to the world in certain acceptable ways: primarily a rounded ‘two cakes on a plate’ appearance that does not mirror the natural shape of most women’s breasts. Women are told they should not go out of the house au naturel as their boobs may move, their nipples may get hard, and they are not being professional when their boobs are not under control.

There is an underlying message that boobs are not fine just the way they are. They need to be hoisted up, rounded, pulled forward, and projected to look good or ‘right’. When you see bra size interventions, one of the main messages is how much better her boobs look in the properly-fitting bra than the old, poor-fitting bra. I recently saw one headline on the Daily Mail on bra fit that said: “Are YOU wearing the wrong bra? Woman with ’36C’ chest learns she’s been wearing unflattering cups SIX sizes too small”. Note the word “unflattering” – as if women’s breasts exist to look nice for other people. Body shaming messages like this can be an implicit or explicit tactic used in bravangelising.

In addition, telling women that their breasts will sag if they do not wear the right bra not only reinforces an opinion that has no scientific evidence, it also tells women that sagging breasts are not okay. Breasts sag naturally. It is part of ageing and even young women can have sagging breasts. Let me reiterate: breast sagging is natural and okay. Sagging should never be used as a negative or insult to motivate women into wearing their ‘proper’ bra size.


Bra fit isn’t everything

Comfort is a completely valid reason for wearing a bra in whatever size pleases you. While traditional bra fit stipulates a firm band, many women prefer a looser band based on what is comfortable to them. There is nothing inherently wrong with wearing a loose band or having your boobs overflow the cup of your bra. The important thing is that you are aware of your options (i.e. you are aware there is something different) and you are happy with your choice.

Women also wear bras for support. Bras can reduce pain from heavy breasts by redistributing the weight to the bra’s band (80%) and straps (20%). In this instance, the only fit that matters is which bras feel like they give the most support. If that is wearing a band size or two smaller than your underbust measurement or wearing a smaller cup size, it is the support that matters. Indeed, all that matters is the way the person wearing the bra feels, not some idea bra size.

Bras are also worn as a style piece where fit is certainly not a priority. They can be used to express an identity such as goth, a lifestyle such as BDSM, or personal style such as retro or historical garb. Therein, it is the appearance or style of the garment that is most important, whereas fit can be approximate.


Bravangelising reduces personal agency and creates an imbalance of power

Let’s talk about the psychological effects of bravangelising. First of all, bravangelising is telling another woman – a random stranger, family member, or close friend – that you know more about the her boobs than she does. Through this process, bravangelists delegitimise the woman’s voice, her knowledge, and her personal experience. In doing so, they position themselves as an authority over another person’s body parts – therefore over another person – and use this position to assert their own narrow view of what is right.

Most women are sensitive about their breast size, breast shape, and bra size. Bra size can be tied to identity, group affiliation, and feelings of self-worth. Yet these connotations and the resulting feelings from having them challenged are largely ignored by the bravangelist community. Enthusiasm for the proper bra size or a bravangelist’s personal discomfort with someone wearing the wrong size becomes more important than people’s feelings.


Through this process, an unhealthy power dynamic is cultivated wherein the individual’s personal agency is removed. Personal agency is the ability of an individual to act and to make choices within a given environment. You can cultivate personal agency by giving people options but not forcing information or decisions upon them. For instance, check out these two scenarios:

Scenario #1:

Person 1: “Ugh, my bra wires are always cutting into me… it is so annoying”
Person 2: “There is no way you are a 36C, I can tell just by looking at you. I wear a 34F and your boobs are way bigger than mine. I bet you are more like a 32H so no wonder your bra wires cut in, you are wearing a bra that is many sizes too small. You need to get properly fitted.”

Scenario #2:

Person 1: “Ugh, my bra wires are always cutting into me… it is so annoying”
Person 2: “Aww, I know how that feels. Hey, I have done a lot of research on bra fit so if you ever want some bra advice or a bra fitting, let me know.”

Scenario #2 is healthier. The first person maintains personal agency, power, and responsibility. They now know that there is another option and they can choose to learn more or to not learn more, and they maintain personal responsibility for taking care of their own body.

In the end, the downside of bravangelising is not that you – as the advice giver – will be rejected or marginalised for ‘trying to do the right thing’. It is that you impose yourself on other women without invitation or consent, tell them that they are wrong about their own breasts, and position yourself as an authority over them under the guise of ‘saving’ them from their poor-fitting bras.

Have you ever been told you were in the wrong bra size, or discovered the world of bra fitting and wanted to share the knowledge? Share your stories below.


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lia June 16, 2001 - 11:49 pm

Great article! You made a bunch of great points and it’s a fantastic read. I think that many people who find themselves a better fitting size struggle with the issues most new “converts” do-excessive enthusiasm and excitement about sharing this knowledge that helped them so much. Because a technically fitting bra is important, or maybe even necessary for them, they struggle with realizing that\92s not the case for everyone. They run into trouble when they zealously try to help, especially when the receiver doesn’t want it or care. Everybody has different requirements of their undergarments and that may mean the best bra for them isn\92t necessarily the best technical fit. It\92s okay to share knowledge and to help with permission, but it\92s not right to try and tell someone what they should prioritize and value. Don\92t prescribe your values to someone else.

To answer your questions, I got into lingerie as a hobby and troubleshot my bra fit a few years before my mother and sister. I\92m very happy to have done so and that it alleviated the issues plaguing me. I generally wear 28E or 30DD, and 32D when the other options aren\92t available. At the time, I *shared* with my mom and sister that I\92d found better fitting sizes for myself and that I was able to order bras outside of the 32-40 A-DD range. And that was that- they weren\92t interested in pursuing different sizes for themselves. I helped my sister find more technically fitting bras later on when she was having issues and *wanted* help. My mother doesn\92t care that there might be more technically fitting bras out there and that\92s okay! She\92s happy with them, so they\92re right.

I just wish people would cool their jets and offer help/knowledge if someone wants it, not rudely, blindly prescribe it unasked.

Sian June 16, 2002 - 12:17 pm

Great post! When I first got refit into a better size, I wanted to tell EVERYONE to go get it done because it was so much more awesome than how I felt previously. But I discovered some people (like my sister) were a little less receptive to it than I’d expected. Nowadays, I only “bravangelise” people if they’ve commented to me that they find a bra painful or uncomfortable, if they say specifically that what they’re currently wearing doesn’t fit, or if they ask me if it fits. If someone is comfortable in the size they’re wearing, even if it doesn’t fit “right”, there’s no reason for them to stop wearing it. And I’ve discovered over time that while I used to stick only to “my” size, I’ll now try things in a range of sizes around my own and even sizes I know won’t fit because they’re super awesome bras and I want them 😀

Avigayil June 16, 2002 - 4:58 pm

Thank you for your comment! You have a wonderful attitude and approach to offering help and sharing your knowledge. I love that you said “I just wish people would cool their jets and offer help/knowledge if someone wants it, not rudely, blindly prescribe it unasked.” &amp,lt,– this is everything! It is exactly what I wish for too.

Estelle June 16, 2002 - 7:38 pm

I found the same with my sister – I’d always worn 32 bands until I realised 30s existed and that they fit me better. My sister’s a different cup size but we’re otherwise more or less identically sized, so I made her try on a 30 in Boux Avenue. I thought she’d love the fit but she said it was too tight and that was the end of that!

Kristen June 16, 2018 - 2:49 pm

I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!

Denise June 16, 2018 - 6:32 pm

I have been wearing the “correct bra” (34G) after going for a fitting, which has left me with “bra burn” on my shoulders where the straps sit and under my arms to my back where the band goes 😥 . I have gone back to wearing my comfy sports bra which is a few sizes smaller in the cup and has a larger band!

Wen June 16, 2020 - 8:18 am

This is a very interesting post and I love your writting! In fact, I feel you about some people attitude when it comes to bras sizes. I have to say that I bravangelised my mom who was not into lingerie because she always had troubles finding the right bra size and also didn’t have enough patience for spending time trying different bras. Also because, just like me before I found my bra size(s) lingerie stores were a traumatizing and disappointed experience for her. But as I am really stubborn, and also because I am made just like her, I thought she could wear almost the same bra size as me and I offer her some bras that I ordered for she can try them without pressure in a store. Fortunately I was right about her size, and now I manage to offer her lingerie when I come back home for holidays and sometimes she accepts to go in a lingerie store because she feels more comfortable now that she knows that something can work for her. I also had a similar experience with a friend that was self conscious about her A cup but who told me that she always wore bras at the tightest hooks. She was super happy to realized that she was actually a B or C cup but needed a tighter band. (I don’t think there is something bad in wearing a A cup but in this case buying a bra with a different letter helped her.)

I think sometimes bravangelizing can help, then. With my mom and my friend I had to be “patient” because when people don’t feel good in their body they are more likely to give up thinking nothing could help them. But at the end I am happy that I insisted a little bit because now they feel better. Nevertheless I have friends that really don’t want to change the size of their bras and feel absolutely sexy and comfortable this way. I told them about what I learnt about bra fitting but I didn’t insist because it is weird to bother someone that actually feels good the way he/she is. But it’s true that when I discovered bra fitting I started realizing that a lot of girls were wearing bras that didn’t fit the way bra fitters teach you that they are supposed to fit and that made me uncomfortable for a while because they reminded me of my former situation and I was so sure that they must feel uncomfortable. But then I realized that I was wrong and that my vision was biased by my own experience of my breasts.

I just wanted to forget all those years when I was selfconscious about my body and the way my boobs looked in bras (too small and not supportive bras) and I felt like that was not something I wanted to see anymore. Sometimes the issue comes from us and our personal story more than the fact that we want to help people. Now I feel better in my body and mind. I even wear bralettes when I found one that can contain my 30GG! 😀 Having round breasts under clothes is not always what makes me feel sexy or comfortable. Sometimes I just want to go braless. I don’t go outside like that because I feel naked in front of people but I don’t think anymore that a bra is an obligation.

Tori June 16, 2021 - 12:09 pm

What bralette do you have that fits a 30GG?! I’m a similar size and I’ve been looking for ages! Any tips where to find one happily received haha!

Wen June 16, 2021 - 8:54 pm

Hello Tori !
My bralette has been made-to-measurements by Toru &amp,amp, Naoko. It is the Kumiko bralette (now on sale in white). I’ve reviewed it on my blog if you need more information !


Skye Rose June 16, 2022 - 8:23 am

What about breastfeeding mothers where wearing the wrong size of bra can cause mastitis and blocked ducts?
Also measurements can be used initially to determine a starting bra, I would assume you’re not filling the top of the cup and have gaping material there as a result so would need to look for a plunge or balcony style bra.

Alternatively, you may be trying moulded cups which most women’s breasts don’t fill because they have to be the exact same shape.

Finally, finding a bra that is the correct fit rather than the old +4 band method etc. Is life changing, I know it changed mine I had a lot of back pain and it was due to wearing completely the wrong size. 2 band sizes smaller and a few cups larger and hey presto no back pain!

I agree about the way people should approach others, but I also think that as some women do need to wear bras for comfort, exercise, and endurance I would think it’s great to be properly fitted.

Estelle June 16, 2022 - 7:35 pm

Ouch! Bras definitely shouldn’t be causing that much pain! It might be that it wasn’t really your size, or it might just be a poorly-made bra (I had one made from a sratchy mesh that almost gave me blisters where it rubbed against the skin, despite being a pretty good fit). Either way, it’s totally okay to keep wearing the bra you find comfortable. If you’re happy in that one, why not! 🙂

Estelle June 16, 2022 - 7:49 pm

Hi Skye! 🙂 I can’t speak for Avigayil who wrote this article, but I very much doubt she’s advocating poorly-fitting bras for everyone.

A well-fitting bra can definitely be life-changing for some and I think educating people about bra fit is important, but the problem this article focusses on is the way some people go about that ‘education’. Commenting on strangers’ photos online to tell them their bra doesn’t fit, when they’re not asking for bra fit advice, for example (it happens!) isn’t helping anyone.

Better to ensure there are great resources available, and point people to them *if* they express a desire to learn / a problem with their current bra, and then let them make their own mind up about whether to follow the advice they get there or not.

Avigayil June 16, 2023 - 4:08 pm

Thanks Kristen. 🙂

Avigayil June 16, 2023 - 4:10 pm

Thanks for sharing your story Wen. 🙂 I also worked with my mother as her bras were hurting her shoulders. I got her perfectly fitted but she prefers to NOT even wear bras unless she is going out for a special occasion! Ah well!

Avigayil June 16, 2023 - 4:23 pm

Hi Skye Rose,
Thanks for your comment. I will willingly admit that I have no experience with breastfeeding bras and I will willingly leave that niche up to those who do. As such, I did not mention breast feeding bras in this post. 🙂
Also, forgive me for saying, but I did not ask for bra fit advice! Thus your comment is a good example of bravangelizing. I actually do know my own breasts really well and I know that balcony style bra straps are too widely placed for my frame, that plunge bras wrinkle at the top of the cup, and that I rarely ever wear molded – all information that I would know about my body, breasts, and bras that someone randomly offering bra fit advice does not know – nor should they.
I do agree that being properly fitted can be a life-changing experience for some women. However, unsolicited advice can also be a negative experience for many women as I mention in this article. 🙂