WELL EXCUSE US FOR BEING FLAT!
We hardly need to tell you that in many cultures, large busts are usually more popular with men than small ones
. Alas, not all women are so blessed, and while some wear the "ironing board" title with pride
, others are plagued by problems of low self-esteem as a result of their... un-bustiness
This can be for a variety of reasons, but the most common are the belief that Buxom Is Better
, being mistaken for a kid, and being thought of as childish and immature because of her small chest.
Things commonly done by this type of small chested woman:
- Wearing loose clothing.
- Trying to make herself appear more busty than she really is, such as using a push up bra or using Fake Boobs.
- Being offended when other people comment on the smallness of her breasts.
- Jealously observing another girl's huge breasts in a Beach Episode or at any other opportunity.
This could also apply to any woman that is under a D-cup (B-cup Bitchiness, C-cup Cynicism).
Contrast Petite Pride
. For assets on the other side of the spectrum, compare and contrast Big Breast Pride
and D-Cup Distress
. For the Spear Counterpart
of sorts, see Teeny Weenie
. Anime Fanspeak
refers to this type of character as a "Pettanko
" (roughly, "flat girl").
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- In Real Life this is common enough among Japanese girls that weekly or monthly shojo manga publications more likely than not include breast enlargement ads, or at least diet ads that promise to not take anything off the rack. Aside from the usual before-after photos, exciting exclamations and shiny products, there are specific ad mangas: 8 to 12 pages of A-Cup Angst and Buxom Is Better played straight enough to put a ruler to shame with no other content.
- Ad for Chasteberry E: Meet miss Pettanko. Her life sucks. The boys don't even know she exists. She attempts to ask her crush out, he awkwardly evades. She knows the solution is to develop breasts. Cue desperate attempts, and finally success when a friend tips her off about the product. 3 months later she has gone from zero to cup E or so, attracts the Male Gaze wherever she goes, and is happily together with her crush.
Anime & Manga
Films — Live-Action
- A major theme in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.. Margaret and her friends are sixth graders who can't wait to grow. They envy their classmate Laura Danker, who already has.
- In The Princess Diaries, Princess Mia's biggest insecurity about her appearance is her extreme lack of a chest — it was pointed out several times by Lana that she doesn't even need a training bra. Granted, by the end of the series she has B-cups.
- Based on a True Story, Catalina, the teenaged protagonist of the Colombian novel later international franchise Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso, is a dark play on this trope. Catalina's real reason for wanting a bigger chest is to catch a rich boyfriend who'll buy her luxuries and get her out of her poor neighborhood, like the ones her bustier friends have. The catch is that those "rich boyfriends" are drug dealers and traffickers. She tries to approach that "rich world" by becoming a prostitute, but her beginnings are harder because most of her potential clients prefer chicks with "more meat". She eventually gets a bust augmentation from a Back-Alley Doctor and marries a minor boss of a Cartel, but she's still under her pettanko complex, by that point she has lost her True Love and any chance of escape, and eventually the brutal reality of the shady world she has gotten into hits her hard. When she is forced to reverse her boob job in a Life or Limb Decision, it's become the last straw for her, so she arranges a Suicide by Hitman to end her suffering.
- Magrat Garlick has been described several times as being a physical match for an ironing board with two peas on top of it. Although being flat is not her defining characteristic in terms of attractiveness (the author also makes note of hair which refuses to cooperate) she certainly does seem to be very self-conscious of it. Now imagine how she must have felt in Wyrd Sisters when, having stuffed her bra among other preparations, she takes a quick survey of her assets upon encountering Verence and finds that her stuffing has descended approximately to her waist.
- Monstrous Regiment opens with Polly Perks being annoyed that, when doing a Sweet Polly Oliver, she didn't need to bind her breasts.
- How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse has Duff who, having the chest of a man, constantly suffers of this. Mostly Played for Laughs.
- Lisbeth Salander in the first book in Stieg Larsson's Millennium series. Because of her flat chest and the fact that she's short and skinny, she is often mistaken for a 14-year-old. Her legal guardian even uses this fact to his advantage when he drugs and rapes her. He claims no one will believe he raped her since her small cup-size means she's not a turn-on (yeah, he's a jerk). In the second book though Lisbeth has gotten breast implants.
- Doctor Who Expanded Universe novels:
- The Doctor's companion (later ex-companion and Adventurer Archaeologist) Bernice "Benny" Summerfield. One could probably draw quite a few conclusions about certain novel writers by counting up the number of times per book some of them have felt the need to mention her legendarily petite rack. Benny's creator, Paul Cornell, had a character describe her (in dialogue) as having "no tits".
- Trix MacMillan, from the Eighth Doctor Adventures, is a less-prominent example, so to speak. Her breasts aren't big enough for her to have what you'd call cleavage. This only seems to bother her when she's feeling especially self-conscious, though. Also, she has some kind of sex-work-ish career in her Backstory, although that isn't necessarily saying a lot, at least in Real Life, and she manages to look glamorous and another character actually has nice things to say about her rack... but he Really Gets Around and has a 6'6" ex-girlfriend, so maybe he's not all that picky.
- Jame in P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath is flat-chested and self-conscious about it. She's flat to the point of being mistaken for a boy all the time (being rather tomboyish doesn't help, of course). The master thief she's apprenticed to in the first book thinks she's a boy the whole time, even when she strips to the waist in front of him. After that, she gives up trying to tell him otherwise; granted, he's eccentric and has bad eyesight, but still. She also doesn't ever understand the crushes other characters have on her, convinced that there's nothing worth looking at in her. (One suspects she's rather blind to what she does have...)
- In the fourth book of The Belgariad, Castle of Wizardry Princess Ce'Nedra has a suit of armor made for herself, and makes a point of trying to get a Breast Plate much larger than her actual chest. She settles for one just breasty enough that she won't be mistaken for a boy in armor. This isn't just for this trope, however: the armour is supposed to make her seem like a woman (for practical reasons involving leading an army)... in the context meaning mainly adult. She obviously can't fake away her short height with armour while still being visible, and since she's not supposed to be in actual battle anyway it doesn't matter if visible breasts on the armour makes it worse for defence.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Brienne of Tarth, in addition to being riotously masculine all around, is flat to the point that she may as well not have breasts at all. Jaime once comments that she's like the Hound with teats — or would be, if she had any teats. She's not terribly concerned with her bust in general, but her flatness is part of the overall lack of femininity that often distresses her, as she is so often taunted and rejected for her appearance and knightly ambitions.
- This is practically the entire focal point of Girl, Fifteen, Charming but Insane.
- Hilda in Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast refers to her regrets at her lack of, er, development at many points, especially in comparison to stepdaughter Deety.
- One of the concerns Calliope, the main character in Middlesex, has while growing up is being totally flat-chested. At least until the truth about her intersex body is discovered.
- In S.L. Viehl's Blade Dancer, Jory isn't sure why people are staring at her tits when she takes her shirt off to treat an injury, and compares herself unfavorably to full-blooded Jorenian women in that regard.
- Averted in Michael Slade's Ghoul, in which Rika Hyde's flat chest doesn't stop her from playing up her onstage sexuality as a head-banging rock performer. Her lack of cleavage becomes plot-relevant when it gives away that a more buxom woman had impersonated her.
- The main character in Michelle Cunnah's chick-lit debut "32AA" suffers from this.
- Not as pronounced as some examples, but Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments, feels insecure when she compares herself to the more traditionally beautiful, busty/curvy Isabelle.
- Subverted in The Hunger Games. Haymitch throws an absolute fit when they want to give an unconscious Katniss breast implants to make her more appealing to the Capitol audience, and wins that particular battle. When she wakes up and finds out about it she's very relieved to have gotten to keep her (at that point almost non-existent, due to the fact that she's been in the Games and has lost a lot of weight) natural bosom.
- Mari Ado from Woken Furies has this as a sore point. In his narration, Takeshi Kovacs notes that she's not actually that poorly endowed; she just has a complex about it.
- Mary in The Scream.
- Dialog from the Veronica Mars episode "Meet John Smith", where Veronica is trying to change her flat tire:
Veronica: As God made me.
- Yamada Naoko in the live-action Japanese dorama Trick is constantly teased about her flat chest by all the male characters and is quite bitter about it.
- A running gag in Married... with Children is Marcy being mistaken for an adolescent boy due to her flat chest and short hair.
- This, along with her short stature, is one of Claudia's main insecurities in Party of Five.
- iCarly: Carly's "flat-chestedness" during early (in Season 1) and middle (season 2 or 3) puberty has been humorously referenced in a few episodes.
Carly: What's that supposed to mean?
Sam: Why won't you ask your new helping bra?
Carly: (looks down and gasps) There's nothing wrong with a little help.
- And in "iFight Shelby Marx":
I'm not a twig. I'm getting curvier every day. Freddie:
I know. Carly:
Eyes up, dude.
- Apparently, Lizzie McGuire, Kate ditched Lizzie and Miranda as friends once she "developed", only adding to Lizzie's insecurity regarding her size. Many episodes made reference to bras, Lizzie's lack of curves, etc., which seemed unlikely towards the end of the show, when Hilary Duff got older and obviously well-endowed.
- Grace in Will and Grace is insecure about her bust size to the point of using a water-filled bra at one point.
- In "Spin the Bottle", a mistaken spell has all of the characters reverting to their teenage minds, but realizing they are in their adult bodies:
Cordela: (looks down at her chest) I've filled out!
Fred: (looks down at hers) and I'm... apparently not gonna.
- Degrassi The Next Generation
- Manny has this despite being at least a D cup.
- In season 12, Maya has this and buys a push-up bra and later buys bra inserts in order to impress a band she is auditioning for. She uses them wrong and they end up falling out during the audition.
- An episode of Popular involves the character Sam wearing an inflatable bra to a dance due to feeling insecure about the size of her breasts.
- WXII traffic reporter Jennie Stencel learns that she's been wearing the wrong size bra.
- In the Taiwanese Series Drunken To Love You, Xiao Ru gets in a size argument with her boss. Later, she wears a bustier to a club, inciting her husband to cover her with his jacket... backwards.
- Eun Bi from Flower Boy Ramyun Shop gets upset when Chi Soo justifies touching her chest as it's not much different from his.
- In "A Reunion ...", the second-season premiere of Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, June laments that all the stress she's endured since coming to New York has probably cost her a cup size.
- Don as a joke in the Sam & Cat episode "Twinfection".
Cat: When I say Aybra Kadaybra...
Sam: I thought you wanted me to stop making fun of your A-bra.
Cat: covers her breast
- In the True Life episode, "I Hate My Small Breasts", they had a woman who was an A-cup but worked as a go-go dancer and pole dancer. Of course, this led to her wanting to get breast implants.
- On Good Day America small busted reporter Anna Gilligan, in this segment when she strips down to a bikini at Action Park to try out the Tarzan rope scene quips:
Anna: I'm going to derobe here. I don't know what's scarier, the ride or taking off my clothes.
- nWo Girl April Hunter said that growing up, she was teased for her barely visible bust. Then after she was all grown up, Hunter was teased by the likes of Alere Little Feather for the exact opposite reason.
- Parodied in the stage play Psycho Beach Party, where the female lead laments her figure to the audience while topless ("It's like I have the body of a boy!")... and while played by a boy.
- Val in A Chorus Line gets a song all about this ("Dance: Ten, Looks: Three"). She never grew the womanly attributes necessary for Broadway success, so she went to a plastic surgeon and got them installed. One dancer says she wishes she had one breast just like her. Val's advice, "Have 'em all done!" (In the film adaptation, she advises, "Well, go out and buy them!")
Flat and sassy,
I would get the strays and losers.
Beggars really can't be choosers.
That ain't it, kid. That ain't it, kid.
Fixed the chassis; "How do you do!"
Life turned into an endless medley
Of "Gee it had to be you!"
- Quinn from Shotgun Shuffle has held a secret grudge with her roommate Ellie for years over this.
- Missi Fuller from Misfile is by far the flattest member of the cast and frequently complains about it. This culminated in an amusing fantasy sequence where she imagines what she'd do if she was built like Ash. Emily actually manages to tease Missi very effectively on this point, though she gets Emily back good a few strips later. Note that Missi instantly flips from A-Cup Angst to Petite Pride because she thinks Ash is expressing a preference for small-breasted women when Ash is actually complaining about having breasts in the first place.
- Blossom from Rhapsodies.
- Ronin Galaxy
- Taylor on page 55.
- Though Giancarlo uses her small bust as an insult, Cecil seemed to be at least slightly interested. If only for verification.
- Secret from Keychain of Creation displays elements of this, particularly around Marena.
- In Peter Is the Wolf, we meet Cherry, a Chinese-American Were-Raccoon-Dog (don't you dare call her a Tanuki!) of modest proportions in human form who is inordinatly proud of the D-cups she sports in were-form... until she sees the were-forms of Sarah the Werewolf and Ashley the Were-Vixen. Sarah herself, in her human form, isn't exactly big either, thought it seems to vary from page to page.
- Flora from TwoKinds, mostly as compared to other Keidrans(Kat and Natani in particular). Her human lover Trace certainly doesn't seem to mind...
- MegaTokyo. Although she doesn't seem too self-conscious about it, it's been noted that Nanasawa Kimiko is rather flat-chested — both in her initial appearance at Anna Miller's, when she apparently was wearing inserts to work, and again during Piro's conversation with Tsubasa over the internet after Kimiko's radio outburst makes her an instant star.
- In her sometimes semi-autobiographical webcomic The Fart Party the author/artist Julia Werz tells of the day in the 7th grade when a cute guy that she had a crush on sat next to her in the lunch room and out of the blue asked her what her bra size was. She was so surprised that she immediately blurted out "32AA" without thinking and was known as "Tiny Tits" for the rest of the school year. 
- In Sluggy Freelance, Zoe's first appearance has her wondering if she should get a push-up bra after a rather buxom lass pulls I Have Boobs, You Must Obey! on Riff and Torg. Judging by later appearances, she either got that push-up bra or hit a second puberty.
- Sarah from El Goonish Shive doesn't normally seem bothered by her relative lack of endowment, but sometimes it becomes an issue....
- Yuko from Johnny Wander (both in comic and in real-life).
- Kiley from Ménage ŕ 3, so much so that when she dreams of being a professional therapist, she also dreams of having large breasts to go along with it, and when Yuki mentioned that her girlfriend had small breasts too, she cried tears of joy.
- Eerie Cuties: Brooke is pretty confident, so she doesn't usually concern herself about her looks, though there is a certain area she feels she's lacking in. But she got over it, once she started dating.
- Camilia, from Slimy Thief, is extremely insecure about her flat chest. She wanted to become a witch solely to use magic to give her bigger breasts and she's devastated when she learns that Aisha, who she considers a love rival, can make her breasts as big as she wants.
- Played with a little in Alice when the girls get their first training bras and none of them are developed enough to show — so Joanne stuffs her bra with tissues to make it appear that she's got huge breasts. Nobody's fooled for even a second.
- Karin-dou 4koma: Seren and Tamaryu are very sensitive about their flatness. Seren's reactions in particular range from fury, to padding her chest, to locking herself in her room. But somehow, her genuine angst is actually deliberate, to make her immortality more interesting. Her unsealed form is actually reasonably endowed.
- A minor source of angst for Wonderella in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, to the point that in this comic she goes to Dr. Shark for breast augmentation. He asks her to not do it just out of societal pressure and consider what body feels right for her.
- Although we don't see her angsting over it much, Ellen "Elf" Foxworthy of Schlock Mercenary does get teased early on that when not in her much curvier powered armor, she "doesn't get mistaken for a woman" very much, and apparently joined up with the mercenaries under the pretense of being a boy. Later on when she gets a full body rebuild, her two main requests are longer legs and bigger boobs.
- In this Captain SNES: The Game Masta strip, Lucca is implied to suffer from this trope via an unexpected revelation from Gato, who thought he was praising her and the signs of her "perfection" but ended up giving a Compliment Backfire speech. The main problem is she made the mistake of giving him a rough neural map of her brain as part of his AI, which apparently included her memories as well.
- A source of angst for Mini Mandy of Grim Tales from Down Below once she's revived because her body cannot age. Panel Two of this strip says it all.
- Guy from Two Guys and Guy is not happy about her chest. As she is also a gleefully violent sociopath, mentioning this is a bad idea.
- This angst is very common. The Other Wiki says that, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation is the most commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedure in the United States. More than 300,000 (you read that right) were performed, only in 2007, only in the USA. Some of the pictures on the webpage are NSFW, some are pure Squick.
- Kelly Ripa often comments on her small breasts during the host chat segments on Live With Regis And Kelly.
- Salma Hayek suffered from this in her teens as she told it it on David Letterman's show.
- This mexican fifteen year old girl is crying about being A-Cup
- Pornstar Kitty Jung, pre-implants. Also pornstar Melissa Ashley, which caused some authorities to believe her films were actually child porn.
- The Thai government is concerned about nationwide A-Cup Angst that compels many women to go under the knife. In response, they have endorsed an alternative to breast enlargement surgery known as the "Thailand Breast Slap" said to enlarge feminine assets by one to four inches. For those of you that would like to know, four inches of growth would enlarge small A-cups to full D-cups.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar was for several years dogged by rumors that she'd had breast-enhancement surgery. Since even while nursing her children she was a C-cup at best, she found this amusing.
Seriously, if I'd paid for these, *pointing to her chest* don't you think I'd want them to look better?
- Gigi Edgley (Chiana on Farscape) is very small-breasted, though you perhaps wouldn't know it from looking at her in costume. In an extra on one of the Farscape DVD's, she recounted telling her family about the makeup.
My dad was like, "How long does that makeup take?" About three and a half hours. "Oh, so they spend half an hour on your face and three hours on your tits?" Thanks, dad...
- Nora Ephron wrote a humorous essay on having small breasts and her neurosis about it in the 1970 book "Wallflower at the Orgy" where she claimed that she was the only female working in the Kennedy White House that the president did not flirt with.