When Busts 4 Justice challenged Playtex on their hopelessly misleading bra calculator app (above) last year, dozens of bloggers and Playtex customers joined the fight to get them to rethink the mis-advice they were giving to women. And Playtex listened – removing the app and inviting a focus group of Busts 4 Justice friends to meet them in London and discuss bra fitting advice and what they could be doing better. Impressive stuff.
The problem is, that outside of the US Playtex are operated by licensees. So while the marketing team representing Playtex UK reached out to women and tried to make a difference, Playtex fans in the US didn’t feel quite so valued by the brand. Not only did complants fall on deaf ears, the Playtex US bra calculator tool gives even poorer results than its now obsolete British sister. Behold:
The bra calculator works alongside guidance videos that – though does recommend a yearly professional fitting – sends women completely off in the wrong direction from her perfect fit. To make it worse, through slick, chirpy ‘bra makeover’ videos you can watch long suffering misfitted women in to… another misfitting size – reinforcing the bad lessons being dished out to unknowing Playtex customers and prolonging the discomfort and culture of fit miseducation of women everywhere.
According to Playtex I am a 34C, so I popped in to a local lingerie store to find a bra in “my” size (let it not be said that I don’t give this calculators a fair chance to prove me wrong…). Let me describe what happens to my body in a 34C bra – in case you can’t imagine already. My breasts are harshly forced back in to my chest – causing a boob pancake that starts near the bottom of my ribs and heads to my chin, and gives a four(+) boob effect under clothes. In such a small bra, my nipples are barely covered, and the wires dig in sharply in to the delicate breast tissue. The front gore is nowhere near my chest – in fact in a bra this small I’m spilling out both over and under the cup – and the band pulls up my back. This causes further pain, and the unsupported cups pull down my straps and cut in to my shoulders. Every time I move, I have to to readjust my breasts because they are simply not contained by the bra. And this is without even leaving the changing room. I am uncomfortable, I look ridiculous, and if this was the daily reality of my lingerie experience I would absolutely hate my body.
Is this the experience Playtex want customers to have in their lingerie?
Of course I am not a 34C. I am a US 30I/28J (a UK 30G/28GG). Simply by not adding four/five/six (seriously Playtex? Six!?) to that initial underbust measurement, I find a size that gives me perfect support, has improved my body confidence, dropped me a dress size, and empowered and enabled me to become much more active in my daily life.
C is a small cup size. In fact, if you understand bra relativity you’ll understand that D is too (please read this if I’m confusing/surprising you here). Support for fuller busts cannot be found by increasing back sizes. It is found by close – even tight – support around the underbust that is capable of taking 80% of the breast weight – and letters of the alphabet beyond DDD.
So, my gorgeous US readers – here is the rallying cry. We (but especially you – you are their customers and they should want to deserve your custom) shout. We e-mail. We recruit our readers to shout and e-mail too. The method Playtex US are using to advise women on their bra size is wildly misleading – and we prove this by describing what happens when we squish our chests in to their suggested sizes. The bravest souls could even take a picture showing the effect to illustrate the point – there’s nothing like a visual aid to hammer home the point. Playtex UK listened to customers when they said their welfare and comfort was let down by such an arbitrary and misleading tool. Do Playtex US value their customers enough to do the same?
D is not big. 34B is not ubiquitous. Adding inches to an underbust measurement completely fails women beyond a C cup. And every woman deserves better from their lingerie than companies pedalling these +inch size calculators are offering.
The War on Plus Four is back on. Who’s in?
Oh, I’m in. I’ve been in since the get go.
Yess! I’ve hit their Facebook, now I’m e-mailing… x
Apparently I’m a 42 DD. ~facepalm~ Hitting up their FB and pulling out the emails now!
I emailed them a while back (September maybe?), I’ll see if I can find the original. Their calculator puts me at 38DD where in reality I’m a UK 32J/34HH (US 32L/34K?).
Here’s the response I got. If I can find my message to them I’ll add it here.
“Thank you for contacting Playtex. We are always delighted when Consumers take time out of their schedule to share their comments and welcome the opportunity to address inquiries regarding our products.
We appreciate your feedback and will certainly keep your comments in mind. We are currently working to fine tune our Fit Calculator and have definitely heard this confusion before. We have changed the calculator in response to women’s changing bodies. Currently we suggest that women with a band measurement of 35″ or above add 3″ instead of the old 5″ recommendation- which will give you a band size of 38″ instead of 40″ band size under the old system. However, this measurement is only a starting point and depends on your body type; some women with a band measurement of 35 will fit better in band size 38 and others in size 40.
The online fit calculator is just a starting point; we recommend getting a professional fitting once a year or more. If you would like to give us your measurements, we would be happy to double check the size for you.”
I should add that my original message included a large portion about their terrible bra makeover videos on YouTube, where the women still come away with horribly fitting bras. You’ll notice they didn’t bother to respond to that bit.
Those videos are on the site too – so awful. I watched one woman get fitted in to a bra that – while arguably better than the one she was in – still had her boobs low and her breast tissue at the side poked in to. It can be so much better than this! Sort it out Playtex!
Thank you!! The misinformation on bra sizes in the US is astounding…
They put me at a 32DD. I have a 26″ ribcage! Adding 6 is ludicrous! It is just another scheme to put as many women as possible into the most narrow range of sizes that they can make. I’m sure if I was actually fit by one of their people that they’d put me in a 34D or something equally as incorrect.
It makes me angry to know how many women across the US are fitting into impossibly large bands just to fit into a company’s standard.
I have so many e-mails about how especially bad things are in the US, and I feel like this post has been long overdue. Breasts are not to be squashed in to sizes simply because it’s simpler than addressing an outdated dogma – the tyranny of the 34B must end!
I sent them an email and gave them a piece of my mind. Just let me know anyway I can help. I’m in! The War Plus Four must stop!
Well done! Let me know if you have any luck hearing from them. WAR ON PLUS FOUR! x
Have you seen their “bra makeover” site? They have women that they have “properly” fitted. It’s a total joke! They fit one lady into a bra telling her that the band of her bra was too low and should be higher on her back. The cup they put her in causes armpit boob spillage. Seriously? Each of those fittings could be torn apart for the fit problems they created. Center gores lifted, smooshed cleavage lines, bands that are too large, armpit fat… I feel a blog post coming on.
Yes! They’re appalling. I mean, in the ones I’ve seen arguably they’re in a better fitting bra than they were to start off with – but barely! Makes me feel so sad for those women who just won’t know how utterly life-changing a properly fitted bra can be x
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I posted about it and just put a comment on their facebook page. After my daughter gets in bed tonight I’ll write an email too. 🙂 They told me to get a 34DDD! (29″ ribcage, 40″ bust- normally about a 30H or 65H/HH), what a joke!
Uch, can you imagine how uncomfortable that would be!? Spillage ahoy!
Watching one of Playtex’s “makeovers” where they told a woman with big boobs that her perfect bra was wirefree and the centre gore was nowhere near her chest. Am I wrong in thinking that the centre gore needs to sit against your chest no matter how big your boobs are?
I’d say one of the most essential parts! If it’s not flat, how are boobs supposed to stay in? And can you imagine how uncomfortable and hot all that squishing would get? :S Felt very sorry for that woman.
It is very hard with wire-free bras to get the “center gore” to stay flat against the chest, especially in larger cupsizes. So if it is a wirefree bra I’ll waive that rule. (That is no excuse for uniboob in a wirefree bra though.)
However, with wired bras the case is different: the center gore absolutely needs to sit flat against the chest. This can be done with every women – it is just a question of finding the right bra size and right cup shape.
I wear a 40H(UK)/40K(US). My EU size would be 90L. Most of the lingerie stores in a 300kms radius around me stock only Primadonna bras up to 100H(EU)/44FF(UK)/44G(US). You would be surprised how many times I have been stuffed into a Primadonna in 95H or 100H for 80-95 EUR and told it fits perfectly – never mind that the wires are too narrow and dig into the sides, the band rides up and that the center gore doesn’t sit flat. If I complain, they tell me that I “cannot expect the centergore to sit flat in such a large size”. They don’t even stop telling this ridiculous nonsense when I put my own bra back on to show them that the wire can sit flat.
Thanks so much for this! I’ll definitely send an email as well. The calculator told me I ought to be a 36C- I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.The last 36 band I wore was a DD, before I took the time to educate myself about sizing, and the cups were too small then (I’m really a 32H/30I US).
Great! Let me know how you get on. I was similarly amused – I don’t think I even lingered around the C mark in my first year of boobage! No chance they’d get in one now…
I actually went to a store and tried on a 40D (I wear a 34H from Elomi) and fell out of the bottom of it. I took pictures, but now I can’t send them because they don’t post a real email address, only a form. So frustrating because pictures can speak louder than anything I can say!
That’s a shame – you’ll have to deploy when they reply. I’ve just said the same to you on Twitter but we’ll make sure they see it somehow… Absurd.
If anyone’s interested on the exact bits on how that calculator works, I wrote a post last year with its details:
It adds from 3″ up to 6″ depending on the band size, which makes things even worse. Someone with a 36″ will get the same back size recommendation as someone with a 39″ back.
Thanks for this!
I just got my reply from Playtex. A canned email, with names inserted. It was sent from firstname.lastname@example.org Email inserted below:
Dear Ms. XXXX,
Thank you for contacting Playtex It Fits. We are always delighted when Consumers take time out of their schedule to share their comments and welcome the opportunity to address inquiries regarding our products.
We have forwarded your comments over to the appropriate department. We also wanted to let you know that it is a guideline only to go to a department store or one of the Hanes, L’eggs, Bali Playtex outlet store to get a professional bra fitting.
Ms. XXXX, if we can be of future assistance, you may reach us at 1-800-537-9955, Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:30pm (EST), or on the Web at http://www.playtexfits.com.
Consumer Response Representative
That’s really disappointing but not unexpected – we have to keep pushing to win this battle. Will you be writing back to give them another piece of your mind?
I’ve posted again to their Facebook but not heard anything yet. Will keep trying… Well done on all your efforts so far x
This tells me I’m a 38C… There is no way I’d get my bosoms into a C cup. I wear a 34FF. I had an old 34DD and I could hardly breathe in it. A C cup would give me 6 boob effect if I spill out the sides and the middle!
I’m a 32F-30FF and they pegged me at a 38AA. Time to send some emails and post some comments, and find a 38AA bra to try on, for giggles if nothing else.
38AA? That has to be the worst, most extreme result that calculator has generated yet? WTF? You have to post – in minute detail – what the bra does to you to their Facebook wall! I’m posting/commenting on their page every day until they acknowledge our concerns properly: https://www.facebook.com/Playtex
I knew you were the right lady to send the Playtex US video to! Hope I haven’t caused you a crazy amount of work but we need help over here in North America – there simply aren’t enough stores or manufacturers banning the Plus Four Method. You’re doing a bloody marvelous job and I’m behind you 100% – emailed them, posted against their method on Facebook and commented on Alison Deyette’s website (although she hasn’t approved the post in 4 days so it’s not visible)
Fighting for bust justice isn’t hard work – it’s just what needs to be done. Thank you for the nudge – as ever, you are a total inspiration xxxx
Are they deleting the facebook comments? I’m only seeing their own posts on their wall.
At a 33 inch underbust and 41 inch bust, they peg me at a 38C, which I couldn’t even fit into back when I was 13. I’m normally a 34H UK sizes, 34infinity US sizes, considering the chaos that goes on at our size charts after DD.
I plan on finding a bra in 38C and sending pictures. Does anyone have the correct email so I can attach them?
They’re not deleting so far as I know (and I’m sceengrabbing everything, just in case) – just each Page has two tabs so you may only be seeing the ‘Playtex Only’ one. That said, today’s update from them is a gift from the gods… Feel free to go and have fun in the comments 😀 (https://www.facebook.com/Playtex). Other than that, the address I have for photos is email@example.com. Let me know how you get on, and thanks you for joining the War on Plus Four! x
If the Panache Tango II Balconette in 34H is a good fit on you you could give the Goddess Keira in 34K a shot. I wear the Tango in 40H(UK) and the Keira fits me in 40K(US)
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I’m one of those seemingly rare birds that really does wear a 34B. According to Playtex, I am a 40AA. Ha!! For years, I looked at those old size charts, and thought I was a freak who had to settle, because my (in)correct bra size did not exist. I’ve learned since then that adding 4-6 inches to my underbust is ludicrous. My understanding of these old sizing rules is that they are a holdover from at least 50 years ago, when bras were made from different materials, and nowhere near as elastic as they are now. So why do manufacturers insist on using old sizing methods for modern bras?
I hope that this horrible measuring method of adding inches is gotten rid of. Because of this, I’m always bashed into ill fitting sizes. It’s always the same problem. It’s always the band size is too big and the cup size is too small. Sometimes, even a 36 is somewhat loose and I measure 33~34 in my ribcage. So many places try to insist that I’m a 38B/C or a 40AA/A (40~41 inch bust). When I try on a 38C, I’m busting out of the bra and the band hikes up on the tightest hook. What sucks is that the notorious lingerie places like Victoria’s Secret, Fredrick’s of Hollywood, and many others can use this method of adding 5 inches. Well no, V.S. uses another method of measuring above the bust, which for me is about 34~36 inches. According to their method of measuring the over-bust, I’ve been told I’m a 34DD/36D or 34DDD/36DD. Of course, nowhere that I know of in the US carries a 34DDD/34F. So I try to make do with a 36DD but those pretty/cutesy/lacy bras are really hard to find in that size. But I’ve gotten lucky in finding them…when I go to VS, I guess. I’m still young though, so why would I want to wear those old grandma bras? They look awful on me. Last I checked, those ugly things turn men off, so why would I want to wear them? I hate how my bras fit. The band hikes up, the straps either dig in or slip off, and the center bra feels so weird. I might be wearing too big of a band and too small of a cup size…Hmm…I guess I could try 34DDD/F or 34G, but where am I going to find THAT? I guess I have to stick with 36DD/E for now…Ugh, I don’t know where to find that in the US…
I’m a 34H UK sizes. It was tough at first to get over the mental block or ordering online, but once I went to brastop.com and Ewa Michalak I was hooked. You can get affordable bras which are cute and sexy, in exactly your size! And they let you do as many returns as you want so you can order bras in a variety of sizes to find the one that fits you best. I really hope you consider those options, they’ve been lifesavers for me.
Alyi, have you tried figleaves.com? They also do something more like a proper range of sizes in bras you might actually want to wear. It’s not perfect and there are still lots of styles that only go up to a C cup, but you get a decent selection and I think you can get them in the States (Bravissimo is of course the bee’s knees here, but I don’t know if you can get their stuff in the US). Both Bravissimo and figleaves will have 34G, so I do recommend them to you.
So sorry to hear about your experiences. I feel more than anything that this highlights just how far behind the States actually is in terms of bras – because in the UK that is almost a standard size for companies to offer – and even here on continental Europe I see E cups in most brands. There’s no excuse. All I can say is keep an eye on e-bay, and keep sending your experiences in to companies. Don’t give them your custom – even when something half-fits. You deserve way better and what you’re asking for is more than reasonable! We’ll keep fighting for women like you, I promise. Thank you so much for commenting – it’s inspiring to be reminded of why we do this. Good luck finding some better bras and stay in touch! xxxx
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Like all of you above, I’ve tried this horrendous size calculator nonsense before. They are usually pretty inaccurate, but the Playtex one really takes the biscuit (apparently I am a 36B, rather than the UK size 30FF I usually wear. I think the last time I wore a B cup I was about fourteen). I was very lucky to develop slowly (at roughly the same rate as Bravissimo expanded its range to include 30 and 28 back sizes!), and as a consequence I don’t think I have ever worn the wrong size bra for more than a few weeks – but once you start looking for other women wearing the wrong size, you see them everywhere. I’m still astonished at the lack of business sense of these companies. Bravissimo has demonstrated that there is a huge demand for proper bras in proper sizes. Surely a lingerie company that fails to make bras in suitable sizes is missing a huge business opportunity?
In the summer, I always find myself totally shocked by the awful fit on display. It takes everything not to actually go up to strangers and suggest they try something else -perhaps I should just say to hell with social etiquette and tell them anyway? But you make a really valid point about a huge business opportunity – and I think that’s why brands like Bravissimo, Curvy Kate and the Eveden family are expanding so fast in a difficult retail landscape – women who love their fit will love their lingerie – and buy more of it. In my old size, certainly in the beginning when the only E-cups you could by (affordably) were huge, plain, ugly, and came in a box from Marks and Spencer – and I had two on rotation that I loathed and I’d wear until they broke. Now I’m like a kid in a sweet shop…
Yes, exactly! I find it bewildering when the business case is so compelling: if you hate wearing your bra, of course you will buy as few as you can get away with. These companies are driving women into the arms of the plastic surgery industry in the mistaken belief that their breasts are making them unhappy, when in fact it is the lack of interest of the bra companies that is the problem. Thanks so much for drawing attention to this through your blog!
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