The downside of big boobs? Verbal abuse and aggression… from other women, scientists say

FORGET the back pain, expensive bras and leering stares from strangers.

The downside of having bigger boobs is experiencing aggression and verbal abuse from other women, researchers claim.

Participants were shown manipulated images of boobs with various different sizes and shapes and asked questions about aggressionRay Garza and Farid Pazhoohi

A new study by researchers from Texas A&M International University suggests this may be because women with larger breasts are thought of as competition.

“Given the strong importance men place on women’s breast morphology – most notably size – women, in general, are attentive to this factor,” researchers, lead by Ray Garza, said.

That’s right. By the authors’ reasoning (both of them men), having bigger ta-tas makes women more desirable to men, thus making other women perceive them as a threat.

“Physical features that are desired by the opposite sex may drive competition between members of the same sex to gain access to potential mates,” they claimed.

“Women’s breast morphology may drive competitive tactics in women, where women with desirable breasts may serve as direct competitors.”

The study team set out to investigate whether a woman’s breast shape and size would make other women more verbally aggressive towards her.

Writing in the study, published in Sexes, Assistant Prof Garza explained: “Physical traits that are desired by men can drive tactics of intrasexual competition in women.

“In the current study, we tested the role of breast morphology in impacting women’s likelihood of engaging in rival derogation tactics, such as verbal and indirect aggression.

“Additionally, we tested whether women’s intrasexual competitiveness was associated with an increase in rival derogation.

“Overall, women were more likely to engage in rival derogation toward women with larger breasts, most notably C and D cup sizes, compared to those with smaller breasts.”

He went on: “Large breast sizes in other women prompt women to perceive them as a sexual threat and engage in tactics to compete with them, such as enhancing their own appearance.

“Furthermore, considering that women are more likely to utilise non-physical means in their tactics to derogate a rival it was predicted that women would engage in non-physical tactics to derogate women with attractive breast morphology.”

One hundred and fourteen women from Texas A&M International University participated in the online study in exchange for course credit.

All of them self-identified as heterosexual, with 29 per cent reporting being single and 71 per cent in a relationship.

All but three of the participants were Hispanic women, with the remainder of them white.

The women were assessed using the Buunk and Fisher Intrasexual Competition Scale.

It asked them to respond to statements (which certainly won’t win prizes for their feminism) such as “I can’t stand it when I meet another woman who is more attractive than I am”.

Response options varied from “strongly disagree” – which had a score of one – to “strongly agree”, with a score of seven.

“Higher scores on the measure indicate a higher propensity to engage in same-sex competition, while lower scores indicate a lower propensity for same-sex competition,” researchers explained.  

Participants were also asked how likely they were to be verbally aggressive against another woman – for example to yell at her, call her bad names, or say something hurtful to her – or be indirectly aggressive, by gossiping maliciously or spreading harmful rumours.

Finally, they were asked to view 12 images of women’s breasts and provide ratings on being verbally and indirectly aggressive to the woman.

The images were manipulated to represent different sizes and different levels of sagginess – referred to as ptosis by researchers.

How to check your breasts

It is important to regularly check your breasts for any changes. Breast tissue reaches all the way up to your collarbone and across to your armpit, so it’s vital to check these areas too.

If you feel or see any changes in your breast you should always consult your GP.

Charity CoppaFeel! recommends checking your breasts monthly, so you can pick up on any changes quickly.

Breasts do change naturally as part of your monthly menstrual cycle, so you should get to know your breasts, how they feel and what changes they usually go through to know if anything is out of the ordinary.

Five-step check

There is a five-step self exam you can do at home to check for any changes.

Step one: Begin by looking in a mirror, facing it with your arms on your hips and your shoulders straight. You should be looking for any dimpling, puckering, bulging skin, redness, soreness, a rash or changes in the nipple.

Step two: Still looking in the mirror, raise both arms above your head and check for the same changes.

Step three: With your arms still above your head, check for any fluid coming from the nipples. This can include milky, yellow or watery fluid, or blood.

Step four: While lying down use your opposite hand to check each breast. Using a few fingers, keeping them flat and together, go in a small circular motion around your breasts. Make sure you feel the entire breast by going top to bottom in these small circles. It helps to develop a system or pattern to make sure every inch is covered. Use light pressure for the skin and tissue just beneath, medium pressure for the tissue in the middle of your breasts, and firm pressure to feel the tissue at the back, feeling down to your ribcage.

Step five: Feel your breasts while either standing or sitting, using the same small circular motions.

Only the woman’s torso and breasts were visible in each image.

“Overall, breast size contributed to rival derogation towards other women, with women with larger breast sizes more likely to be the victims of verbal and indirect aggression,” researchers said.

Researchers said women were more likely to be verbally abusive or aggressive towards women with a D and C-cup boob sizes, compared to those with smaller breasts.

While the exact reasoning for this remains unclear, Prof Garza and his colleague Dr Farid Pazhoohi suggested the aggression may stem from the perception of women with bigger breasts as competition.

“It has been suggested that women have psychological mechanisms that prompt them to compete with other women, primarily in the mating arena,” they claimed.

“If men consider women with large non-ptotic breasts attractive, women may be more vigilant to those with such a breast morphology and engage in tactics to mitigate the risk of competition those women present.”

Saggier boobs were didn’t appear to trigger aggressive behaviour, with the researchers saying this may be down to participants’ ages.

‘”Breast ptosis is often a marker of a woman’s age, as ptosis increases as women grow older.

“Our participants were young, and they may pay more attention to breast size as that is more easily discernible among women their age compared to levels of sagginess; therefore, they do not consider women as competitive rivals based on variations in ptosis,” the said.

In other boob news, Dr Philippa Kaye recently revealed weird facts you might not know about your own boobs – from why your nipples get hard when it’s cold to boob orgasms.

Meanwhile, radiographers argued that bras are “essential” to women’s health and should be exempt from VAT.

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