The time of our lives with SUSANNAH CONSTANTINE: How I cope with the curse of middle-age boobs (clue: wear two bras at once!)
- TV presenter Susannah Constantine, 56, shares life lessons in a monthly column
- The mother-of-two spoke about her struggle with middle-aged boob spread
- She hates her 34G breast and claims they weigh more than 6.5lb each
- Her attempt to dress age appropriate without being frumpy is work in progress
- Susannah recommends trying her two-bra technique to reduce volume
Fearless, frank and funny, SUSANNAH CONSTANTINE — TV presenter, author, wife and mum to two teenage daughters and a son — starts a new monthly column in Femail today. She will fly the flag for older women, sharing her life lessons on how to embrace middle age with gusto — not to mention a sense of humour.
Let’s talk boobs and how they make us feel. I was once secretly thrilled to hold melons not fried eggs — like Trinny Woodall — to hide my chest for an advert, but not now.
In the days of our BBC show What Not To Wear, she was the ‘thin, elegant’ one and I, the ‘sexy’ one.
Dressing was easy. All I had to do was show my boobs off to elongate a slightly stunted neck and make my small head look in proportion. In short, I owned the perfect pair; an easy to handle C cup. Well, not any more!
TV presenter Susannah Constantine, 56, (pictured) who wears a size 34G spoke candidly about adjusting to having large breasts in middle-age
Since my eldest Joe was born 20 years ago, I have gone up to a gargantuan 34G. So today it would be a lie to say I love my boobs. I hate them.
There isn’t one redeeming thing about being a middle-aged woman with a bosom like buoyancy aids. The clearest sign that I am 56 is not the lines on my face but my middle-aged boob spread.
It is a real struggle trying to find clothes to fit and bras to tame, and let’s not even mention beach holidays.
For those who yearn for bigger boobs, me whining about wanting smaller ones must seem ridiculous. It’s easy to believe a larger pair will instantly make you sexy. But that’s not how big boobs make many women feel. Feeling good about yourself is all about acceptance.
But I have not reached any level of acceptance and feel continuously frustrated to be saddled by two things that weigh more than 6.5lb each. Without them I’d be nearly a stone lighter.
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Even when I lost a lot of weight a year ago, the fat fell from everywhere but my breasts. When I look in the mirror, they take up the whole reflection and next to my husband Sten I could be the woman who gave birth to him. (Sten has the physique of an 18-year-old athlete.)
What was something I used to be proud of now places me alongside comic Les Dawson’s busty matron Ada. All I need is a flowery overall and a hairnet.
My boobs are officially obese!
There is safety in numbers, however.
I have dressed hundreds of older women with big boobs and most feel exactly as I do.
Susannah (pictured) revealed she has difficulty finding flattering clothes on the High Street as flowing pieces make busty ladies look pregnant
Us busty ladies think our chest defines us and that breeds low self-esteem not least as it is so hard to dress. Anything flowing makes us look pregnant. Tailored clothing that suits us is costly, and elusive on the High Street.
Much of my wardrobe is unwearable as nothing fits my top half. Clothes with stretch solve the frontal-fit issue but I don’t want my back fat being defined by clinging fabric.
Shirts and blouses are good, but if they nip in the waist they pull across the bosom as the bloody buttons are in the wrong place. I get around this by using a safety pin to close any gaps.
Think about physical features that define a woman’s age — a discernible waist, and boobs that don’t slap your knees. At least tailored jackets and dresses that glide over rather than hug the contours, solve the waist issue.
And, now, I never wear anything cut too low. There is nothing sadder than a middle-aged woman trying her best to look provocative. The trouble is, if you own big boobs, you can be misconstrued as mutton desperately clinging on to her sexuality. Well, haters, you try to get the balance right without looking like a cougar or dowager duchess.
My daughter Cece, 15, is so cutting she makes me die with laughter. This week I showed her a video of me bravely jumping into the Arctic through an ice hole. As soon as she saw the splash she said: ‘Oh dear… there goes the ice cap.’
For me it is still a work in progress. I want to dress age appropriately but not look an old frump.
We want to be relevant. We want to be good role models for the younger generation and signal that life isn’t over at 50. We want to feel body positive, despite our lumps and bumps.
A collar bone-grazing neckline seems the perfect compromise between crepey cleavage and wearing a habit. Jeans and trousers are a godsend, especially those by Me + Em.
Decide if it’s your top or bottom that can take tighter pieces but don’t do both. Often, I will wear looser-fitting clothes under a figure-hugging coat or jacket.
I have yet to find the answer to full-on glam but will keep you posted on my progress.
Of course, none of this matters if the upholstery isn’t holding things up. Despite years of research and advice from bra-fitters and manufacturers, I haven’t found a single bra that is able to minimise my biggest bodily insecurity.
Susannah (pictured in 2007 with Trinny Woodall) says she’s considered having a boob reduction but for now is wearing two-bras to reduce volume
If you have a large bust, bras are weapons of torture. They suppress the rib cage and restrict breathing, cut into shoulders and squidge back flesh into sausage rolls.
The brassiere hasn’t had a design overhaul since its beginnings over a century ago, even though six in ten of us are no longer a healthy weight and the average dress size is now a 16.
It’s still sized by cup and back size but it needn’t be so complicated and is simply a ruse to keep us buying multiple sizes. How about straightforward small, medium and large with a flexible fabric that moulds to your size?
Our breasts continuously evolve over our lifetimes so can someone somewhere re-design the bra for our 21st century bodies — or I will have to do it myself.
A close friend with a vast cup handicap, had a boob reduction, something I have considered.
Meanwhile, I suggest my two-bra technique, where you wear one bra over the top of the other. Mine are a moulded Simone Perele T-shirt bra underneath an underwired minimiser from Triumph. It reduces volume and makes those melons rock hard — it’s like having implants without the surgery.
As for men, they don’t mind what size our boobs are. They like them any which way — as long as they are real.
These work for me
I love Trilogy’s rosehip oil, which is full of Vitamin C, and use it in the morning and at night. My only moisturiser, it also works on eyes and neck.
Terra Nova Life Drink helps me with physical fatigue from running 20 miles a week. It has lots of fab green and protein goodness.
This Manuka Blossom face wash removes make-up — even waterproof mascara — gently and well.
The BaByliss Big Hair is a brush, tongs and hairdryer in one, which leaves you with a salonstyle gloss.
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