Small-breasted sisters, there is someone you really must meet. Her name is Stephanie Ballard, and she’s the CEO of a brand new company called Bella Petite Lingerie.
Stephanie (photo at left), a size 32A herself, shares our frustration with the lack of bras available in petite and small-cup sizes. She plans to remedy this with a selection of beautiful, stylish lingerie that fits well on women like us.
I had the opportunity to ask Stephanie a few questions about her new business, and I’m pleased to be able to share her answers with you here.
AS: When did you first realize that your bust size was unusual, and how did it make you feel?
I have been thin all my life and was extremely thin as a young girl. I was often teased for how thin I was, to the point I didn’t wear shorts to school for several years. ( I would get picked on for how skinny my legs were). I knew at a young age (around 6th grade) that I was thinner than most, and unfortunately that is also the same time that most of the girls my age began developing. The teasing went from my legs to… well, you know where! As my friends continued to develop through the next few years and I stayed relatively small, I knew that I was different. I grew up in the era of “Pam Anderson,” when getting plastic surgery was the “in” thing to do. Movies, magazines and teenage boys were a constant reminder of what I did not have.
Thus began my struggle with keeping a positive self-image. I filled in a bit as I got older, but still remained on the thin side. Other females would make comments about how they wished they were as thin as me. Little did they know, I wished I could be like them and have what I felt was a “normal” chest size.
For years, I have struggled with the question of why I was born with less up top than many women. I allowed society to influence my self-image and lead me to believe that I was somehow less attractive because of my small bust. One of my goals with Bella Petite is to help small-busted women realize they don’t need to change their bodies. Instead, they can and should learn to embrace their natural beauty.
AS: On your website, you mention your husband Jeff as a very positive influence on your self-image. Do you have any advice for girls and women who feel self-conscious with guys due to their petite bust size?
Jeff has always been a very positive influence and sounding board for me. I give him credit for all the long talks we have had about my personal self-image and how I struggled with what I faced every day in tv, magazines, movies, etc. He has always assured me that I was beautiful exactly how I was, and that he felt that women of all sizes were sexy — including petite women.
Over the years, Jeff challenged me to do something about how society’s portrayal of women frustrated me. The time came when I was shopping online for lingerie for my honeymoon. After spending hours searching in vain for a sexy piece of lingerie, I said to Jeff: “This is crazy! No one seems to sell lingerie in my size. I should just make my own!”
His response would change the course of my life. My husband replied, “So then, why don’t you?” Jeff knew I loved to draw, and he felt that I had the artistic ability to make my own designs. The more I thought about it, I realized that there was a severely under-targeted niche of the market that was not being sold to. From there, Bella Petite was born.
As far as advice for girls who feel self-conscious with guys, I think the most important thing I have learned from my husband is that men find confidence sexy. I have learned from him that regardless of your bra size, if you carry yourself confidently, that is what men are likely to notice and find very attractive.
AS: If you could offer one piece of advice about bra size and fit for small-busted women, what would it be?
First and foremost, visit a lingerie boutique that offers bra fittings. I found this to be a very big help for me. I discovered that for years, I had been wearing the wrong band size. Having a specialist measure me and find bras in my correct size made a big difference in the look and fit of the bras. This has helped me feel much more confident and sexy in my bras, as they are now fitting properly.
During my trip to the boutique for my fitting, I also learned that you should start your new bra on the first (loosest) hook. Over time, the band stretches out, and you can later use the second and third hooks to get the proper fitting as the band stretches. If you start on the smallest setting to begin with, your bra will not last as long.
The boutique I visited had a decent selection of bras in my size (32A) to choose from. When I asked the salesperson about lingerie in my size, she offered me just one outfit to try on. Unfortunately it was a one-piece, and my torso was too long for it to fit properly. When I asked if the sales representative had any others for me to try on in my size, she said that was all they had. This experience once again reinforced my conviction about the need for lingerie to be designed specifically for smaller sizes.
Bella Petite is still in the beginning stages of having our first two prototypes manufactured, and we will be selling these on our site. I have many other designs I am eager to have produced, and my goal is to get them launched over the next six to twelve months.
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