Trigger Warning: Discussions of weight gain and loss and fatphobia.
When I was 30, I got dumped. After an 11-year relationship I found myself single, and, thanks to the overall stress, I dropped a ton of weight. Once the fog started to clear a little and I got into the post-breakup “f*ck this, I’m gonna focus on ME” phase, I realised I needed to buy a whole new wardrobe to fit my new frame – and that included bras.
I’ve always had big boobs; what I haven’t always had, is money. I had previously avoided Bravissimo purely because I couldn’t afford their underwear, but after the break-up I was fortunate enough to be able to afford to shop there, and I did so, regularly. Aged 30, a size 14, with 34HH boobs, I was slap-bang in the centre of their demographic. Since then, however, I’ve gained weight again and am now a solid size 18. I still shop at Bravissimo out of habit, but as I’ve gotten older, wiser, and fatter, something really stood out to me. Not a single one of Bravissimo’s catalogue models is anything other than thin.
“If countless other brands can include plus-sized models in their photography, what’s holding Bravissimo back?”
A quick browse through their website shows this quite clearly. I would say that not a single one of their models is anything bigger than a size 10. I’ve challenged them on Twitter about this a few times, with varying responses from “We are limited to who Model Agencies hire” to “All our models are Bravissimo sizes”. I’m sure the latter statement is true because the range caters to back sizes from a 28, but the former rings hollow when brands like ASOS are capable of not only hiring plus-size models, but also a wide range of “Othered” bodies are represented, and none of their models are airbrushed. If ASOS, Curvissa, Yours, SimplyBe and countless other brands can include plus-sized models in their photography, what’s holding Bravissimo back?
Bravissimo prides itself on being a brand whose mission is to help people with big boobs feel inspired to “feel amazing.” They focus a lot of their marketing on asking their customers for their stories, to give themselves a “brand of the people” voice, but looking deeper at their website tells a totally different story.
Browsing the website more in-depth while researching this article, I started to see where this supposed message of inclusivity fell down. From many styles only being available up to a G cup, to the knickers only going up to a ‘2XL’ (which, by their own size guide, is the equivalent of an 18/20), it seems that Bravissimo only caters for big-breasted people if they are thin. Their biggest back size is 40 – anecdotally, I’m told that size 22 people usually wear 40/42 back sizes in bras, so again we are seeing the hard stop on available sizes at the lower end of the size spectrum. The biggest bra size that they do is a 40L; there are currently nine bras on the site (out of 171 bras total) which go up to this size, and all the models for them are thin.
“Fat people can have big boobs too, and we deserve a brand that will not only cater to us, but represent us in their imagery.”
Continuing this theme, Bravissimo’s clothing range (formerly the affiliated brand Pepperberry) helpfully includes an additional “curviness” variable to its top and dress sizes, to give additional room for bigger boobs – but the sizes only goes up to an 18 “Super Curvy.” In fact, the clothing items that do require a more traditional back and cup size measurement only go to a 38J – a full back size and four cup sizes smaller than their bras. Honestly, this makes no sense at all to me, as one would think that they would at least cater to the exact same demographic that their bras do, but again apparently not.
Look, I get it. Not every range wants to cater to plus sizes (even though there is demand out there). However, Bravissimo claims that their company vision is “to inspire big boobed women to feel amazing” and yet their actual range and model choice tells the story that only thin big boobed women are entitled to that feeling (not to mention the cisnormativity of that slogan). With so many other brands out there gradually coming around to the fact that more diverse representation is required, Bravissimo is falling behind.
Fat people can have big boobs too, and we deserve a brand that will not only cater to us, but represent us in their imagery. A page in their “Discover Bravissimo” section talks about how they have asked their customers to write letters to help pressure brands into doing more for people with bigger boobs. Well this is my letter to Bravissimo themselves – do more. Do more for the fatter people who need brands like you to push the boundaries of sizing and inclusivity. Do more for those of us who need to see people who look like us, modelling the clothes and underwear we want to buy.
For anyone who is looking for a more representative brand, you can find bigger sizes and plus sized models at Elomi Lingerie (up to a 48 back), Curvy Kate (up to a 44 back) and SimplyBe (up to a 54 back).
Bravissimo’s Press Department was contacted for comment – at the time of writing no response has been received.