Boobs, just like women’s bodies, come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us may be blessed with enviable cleavages, some of us (although we’ll never admit it) may have had to resort to a little help from the odd chicken fillet or two on many an occasion. They may not be of identical size and, despite the perfectionism portrayed by glossy magazines, in the real world it’s quite normal for the left one to not look as same as the right. One breast may grow faster or larger than the other and our breasts may also feel and look different throughout our monthly cycle. Nowadays we are constantly surrounded by the influence of social media and advertisement campaigns for lingerie and swimwear brands that use the typical runway model girl who’s had a breast enlargement to get that ‘perfect’ bust. After such exposure to edited photographs and social media pressure, it can be difficult to recognise what normal, natural breasts are. Our breasts are unique to us, and are part of who we are, and just like every other part of our bodies, deserve to be cared for properly.
Let’s get to know our boobs...
In medicine, the breast is referred to as the mammary gland and begins to develop before birth, however it does not become fully functional until it begins to produce milk, after a woman has given birth. During our lives, breasts change due to menstrual cycles, pregnancy and hormones released due to menopause. Many of us do not realise that the breast is in fact a complex organ, consisting of glandular tissue which produces the milk, lymphatics which remove waste, fatty tissue to protect from injury, nerves which make the breast sensitive to touch and blood vessels to provide nutrients needed to make milk.
Bras, Bras, Bras…
Everyone has a favourite that they have had for years but will always refuse to part with, one we spent way too much money on but was absolutely gorgeous and an insanely comfy one that we wear on a lazy Sunday whilst having brunch on the sofa watching back to back box sets. Time and time again we have been told by our mothers, friends and the lingerie staff at all of the leading department stores to get our bra fitted professionally. These ladies may just have a point. The University of Portsmouth Breast Research centre claims that a whopping 70 per cent of women are reportedly wearing the wrong bra size, which is not surprising when we think about of how confusing the measuring system can be. A properly fitting bra should help you to avoid back pain and leave you feeling supported. The band of your bra provides 80% of the support and should not be riding up your back. By going to a fitting, your fitting expert will measure your band size and you can try on a few different cup and band sizes to find Mr Right. It is recommended that bras are fitted every six months or after losing a substantial amount of weight, since boobs can change size as a result. It is always worth remembering that you can be different sizes in different shops: if in doubt, try before you buy! When you look at your bra, the middle bit (or ‘gore’) should be lying completely flat against your sternum, the band should not slide as you move your arms, the underwire should follow the natural crease of the breast and should not be lying on any tissue and you should not be bulging out of the cups. The perfect bra should make you look amazing, whilst also going unnoticed and should not distract you when you go about your daily morning coffee run, ASSL library sesh and Lidl food shop.
Then when you think you’re all sorted with the whole bra situation, you remember Wednesday afternoons, aka sports central. Unbelievably, The University of Portsmouth Research Group in Breast Health has found that one in five women have been deterred from exercise by their breasts! Ladies avoided such activities due to the embarrassment of breast movement and subsequent pain on exercising – if you’ve been wearing the wrong bra you may be all too familiar with such struggles. They also found that breasts move an average of 10cm in 3 directions (up and down, side to side and forwards and backwards) during running but by wearing a good sports bra you can reduce potentially painful breast movement and muscle tension in the upper body during running, which may lead to a more efficient running style.
Remember to CoppaFeel!
Besides finding the perfect bra to support your boobs. It is really important to get to know what your boobs look and feel like normally, so that you can identify any changes that need discussing with your GP as soon as you find them- knowing your boobs could save your life! Breast cancer can affect men and women of any age, and most breast cancers are first diagnosed through self checking. There is no right or wrong way of checking your boobs, simply watch out for lumps, constant pain in your breast or armpit, thickening of the breast skin, nipple discharge, change in size or shape of the breast, nipple inversion and swelling. Cardiff CoppaFeel! Society are a branch of the national breast cancer awareness charity called CoppaFeel! The charity aims to stamp out late detection of breast cancer by educating about signs and symptoms of breast cancer, getting people to check their boobs every month and encouraging people to have the confidence seek medical advice if things don’t seem quite right. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the more effective treatment can be. Your Cardiff CoppaFeel Uni Boob Team is on hand to help you to remember to check your boobs every month! We have already had a very busy first semester where we created a hugely popular naked calendar alongside our friends at Cardiff University Ladies Rugby team, took over the Students’ Union YOLO Wednesday club night, spread the boob love on Xpress Radio, tested our knowledge of all things Hogwarts with Cardiff Harry Potter Society, hosted two of our legendary boobie bake sales, plastered ourselves in glitter for ‘Breastival’, our live music fundraiser, and talked to students and healthcare professionals at our stand at the founding event of Cardiff Oncology Society. As a society, we are really excited to take on more fundraising challenges and to continue to spread the boob love on campus. Don’t forget to CoppaFeel!
Remain on point with your boob checking and symptom spotting by simply texting CARDIFF to 70500 to receive free monthly text reminders so that you never forget to check – ask your friends, families too and help us spread the boob love! For more boob-related banter head on over to our website: https://coppafeel.org/