Suppressed Mammaries

"Toddy, if I have to strap down my bosom for the next 20 years they're going to look like two empty wallets."
Victoria, Victor/Victoria

A popular, often young, female TV star is fairly flat-chested, or at least not very "pronounced", in her most recent or well-known role... but then you see her in an awards show or otherwise live event, and my, has she grown.

This trope only applies to cases wherein the titular mammaries were quite obviously suppressed for the sake of the role (Sweet Polly Oliver cases included), and so if the actress underwent breast-oriented plastic surgery or a reasonable length of "developing time" had passed between the role and her more recent appearance, it is not an example of this trope (though this trope does give the tabloids plenty of "Did she get a boob job?" fodder).

Often a result of Not Allowed to Grow Up. Compare/contrast Big Bra to Fill, where the character has a big bust but the actress doesn't. Fits into Reality Is Unrealistic because television and film producers used to dislike showing girls in between childhood and adulthood (you were supposed to be either a sex symbol or not), though those standards have loosened from how they were in the 1950s.

Hidden Buxom also involves concealing the breasts, but that is more for personal reasons. This trope is about hiding the breasts for a specific task.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Ranma ½: In her introductory arc, Ukyo was believed to be a male transfer student at Furinkan. Ranma and the others didn't realize she was a girl, until he grappled her during their fight and got a surprise handful of her melons. After giving him a slap, she explained that she started binding her breasts because she had renounced her womanhood after being shamed by Genma reneging on her engagement to Ranma, by abandoning her.
    • During the Ryuugenzawa story arc, Akane disguises herself as a boy to fool the woman-eating Yamata-no-Orochi, and this includes binding her own breasts to fit into a boy's school uniform. It works wonderfully, at least until the Orochi gets a direct taste of her and realizes she's really a girl. Later, to save Ranma's life, Akane strips off the uniform's jacket and displays the binding to the Orochi, causing it to chase her.
    • An early chapter cover art displays female Ranma in this manner, as Ranma is supposed to have a "man to man" fight with Mousse. However, the story itself goes the complete opposite direction: Ranma does pretend to be a boy under extremely baggy clothing, but is actually wearing a Playboy Bunny outfit underneath to humiliate his opponent.
  • Ryuunosuke Fujinami in Urusei Yatsura is forced to wear a tightly-wrapped sarashi by her insane father who really wishes he had a son to the point he insists (loudly) that she is a boy, and making that official by falsifying school records. Any time she points out the obvious, he claims her breasts are "bee-stings" that will heal if enough pressure is applied. In one anime episode, she lost her sarashi and was shown to have one of the largest chests in the school (though the actual size of Ryuu-chan's bust depended heavily on the artist).
  • Akira Hiiragi in Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid has one of the largest chests in an already fanservice-heavy show, but somehow managed to bind them enough to pass as a man.

  • This was famously done to Judy Garland to make her look younger for the role of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz.
  • Rumors of this being done deliberately in Star Wars are false. True, Carrie Fisher's breasts were taped down to prevent Gainaxing under her costume, but she resorted to that expedient herself after George Lucas told her that women couldn't wear bras in space! Lucas eventually got the Hotter and Sexier he originally wanted with the notorious "metal bikini" slavegirl outfit in Return of the Jedi. Fisher went on to relate the whole sordid affair in her candid (and screamingly funny) memoir Wishful Drinking.
  • Averted with The Hunger Games. Jennifer Lawrence refused to tape her breasts down to play Katniss because she didn't want to send a message to young girls that they had to be ultra-skinny.
  • Christina Ricci tied her breasts down when she played Wednesday Addams in the movie version of The Addams Family and Addams Family Values. Puberty did not miss her. In what was almost assuredly a reference to this fact, her opening scene of Now and Then has her duct-taping her bra.
  • This happened to Evanna Lynch in the fifth and sixth Harry Potter movies. While not overly endowed compared to other young actresses her age, she is noticeably bustier than her other female castmates.
    • Emma Watson is reported to have resorted to binding herself during some of the later Harry Potter movies, due to "growing up" faster than her character.
  • A strange in-universe example in Orphan, which has Leena Klammer put cloths and bandages around her breasts to look more childlike.
  • Happened to child actress Lina Leandersson during the filming of Let the Right One In - she was a rare averted case of Dawson Casting, being a 13-year old playing a 12-year old, but puberty hit her hard during the latter half of the shoot. She grew outwards so quickly the wardrobe department could barely keep up and the bindings used to keep her both age-appropriate and ambiguously gendered are clearly visible during some of the outdoor shots.
  • In The Railway Children (1970), Sally Thomsett (Phyllis) had to have her breasts strapped down because she was playing a much younger girl. In fact, this was such a big secret at the time that she wasn't allowed to smoke or drink off the set during filming, or for quite a while after that to keep up the pretense.
  • A rare adult example: Julie Andrews did this in Thoroughly Modern Millie in order to achieve The Roaring '20s-appropriate pettanko "flapper" look and lampshaded it within the film.
    • A second Julie Andrews example is Victor/Victoria: Victoria (and consequently Andrews) was forced to bind her breasts in order to disguise herself as the "female impersonator" Victor. Once again it's Lampshaded when Victoria complains about the discomfort and expresses a fear that she's damaging her figure.
    • The exchange in its entirety for your amusement:
    Toddy: Now we've had two major obstacles to overcome...
    Victoria: [sobbing] My bosom...
    Toddy: First, to convince everyone that you're a man...
    Victoria: It's been damned uncomfortable.
    Toddy: What has?
    Victoria: Strapping down my bosom.
    Toddy: Now all you have to do is go out there, and you'll be a star for the next 20 years.
    Victoria: Toddy, if I have to strap down my bosom for the next 20 years they're going to look like two empty wallets.
  • Tami Erin for her role in "The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking" (1988). It became obvious during a Nickelodeon interview promoting the movie, when she wore a tight aerobics leotard without the binding.
  • In a rare non-age-related example, Lindsey Lohan's bust was digitally reduced for Herbie: Fully Loaded .
  • Selena Gomez in Ramona and Beezus. While not too much bigger than the average teen actress her age, then 17-year-old Selena's large bust was a bit too big for the 15-year-old she was playing and wore bras that made it look smaller.
  • In-universe in Les Misérables (2012). Éponine wraps herself up to look like a boy during "One More Day".
  • Another in-universe example happens in Shakespeare in Love, when Viola binds her breasts and wears a wig and fake moustache so she can charade as a man and act in Shakespeare's next play. Amusingly, after she ends up going on stage sans all of that to play Juliet, the queen gets everyone off the hook for having a woman on stage by pretending that Viola was a man, just with a very good female disguise.
  • The title character in Yentl binds herself down in order to pass as a man and study at Torah school, which wasn't allowed for women in those days.

  • Delfina in Diane Stuckart's Leonardo da Vinci mysteries is a Sweet Polly Oliver who binds her breasts and apprentices herself to Leonardo under the name "Dino". She goes to great lengths to conceal her bandages.
  • Alanna in the Song of the Lioness quartet, as part of her disguise. She starts out using bandages, but eventually gets a special corset.
  • Happens to Kel sometimes in Protector of the Small. Her breasts are more noticeable when they first start growing in Page; all the muscle she builds makes them less prominent. Her build, height, and short haircut results in occasionally being taken for male, especially if she's wearing a heavy shirt.
  • Averted in Monstrous Regiment, much to Polly Perk's shame.
    • Apparently quite a few girls hoaxed their way through the Assassins' Guild School with heavy strapping and a habit of changing under a towel after PE. After the school became co-ed and girls were officially admitted, at least one woman who bluffed her way through was invited back as a teacher to the first openly female students.note 
  • Willie Connolly does this in J.R. Lowell's 1972 novel Daughter of Darkness. She has so much invested in her Deliberately Cute Child presentation that she fears changing any part of the status quo. If her parents saw she was becoming a young woman, they'd start making decisions for her, and she knows they've considered sending her to a "lovely" boarding school in Switzerland where she would have no freedom or independence. She keeps her breasts (and her hair) bound tightly for over two years.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jennette McCurdy from iCarly. In between Season 1 and 2, Nathan Kress and Miranda Cosgrove grew up… and Jennette grew outward. After that, the show took to wrapping Sam up in layers of 3 or 4 t-shirts, but she kept on growing. A few episodes in season 3, they forgot about this, such as the rabbi scene in iSaved Your Life, and it's pretty obvious what they are doing. Tropers who were paying attention noticed that during one scene where Sam was jumping on a trampoline things were not bouncing realistically due to the amount of strapping.
  • Julianna Rose Mauriello had to have her breasts taped down since puberty on LazyTown since Stephanie is supposed to be 8 years old (or 9 now, since one year's passing has been acknowledged). She was 17 during the last filming.
    • That said, 'Stephanie' (Solla Stirða) was played by actual adult women in all the original Icelandic plays from before the TV show, and one of them was quite busty with no attempt to do anything about it, while Julianna definitely had grown between seasons and doesn't really look any bigger in out-of-character shots from the same era.
  • Annette Funicello and the other female Mouseketeers, supposedly at Walt Disney's personal insistence. Funicello's rapid development in particular became fodder for comedians.
  • Buffy in later seasons of Family Affair. It did not end well for Anissa Jones, her actress.
  • On Small Wonder, the plastic vest Tiffany Brissette wore to simulate Vicki's access panel had to be periodically refitted over the show's four-year run. In the fourth-season episode "Double Dates", Brissette shows us how uncomfortably tight her wardrobe had become.
  • Soleil Moon Frye discussed this in an interview on a Canadian talk show for teens only a couple of months after Punky Brewster was cancelled. She suffered from gigantomastia, and had breast reduction surgery before her 16th birthday.
  • Jordan Todosey did this in Degrassi, where she was playing a trans boy; Adam's shown binding (with an Ace bandage) onscreen. Later it's mentioned in-series that Adam gets a chest compression vest.
  • In Gilmore Girls, Liza Weil had to play herself down with binding and loose clothing for most of the first four seasons as Paris Geller because of her size and when she started the series, was a 24-year-old playing a convincing 15-year-old sophomore; outside of a few scenes and a date prep at the start of season three, she was either dressed in a constricted sweater or a loose blouse. Seasons 4–7 at Yale without the uniform saw her dressing without much need to hide her natural form.
  • Played with in Skins when Sketch binds down her breasts to try being more appealing to Maxxie, who is gay.
  • Referenced in Frasier wherein Daphne reveals she was once on a popular television show in England: "Of course, by the end of the series, I was 16, 5 foot 10, and they had me boozies bound up tighter than a mummy."
  • From Game of Thrones, Maisie Williams. When the series began, Maisie was roughly the same age as her character Arya Stark (11 or 12) and looked it. By season 2, however, puberty had started to kick in big time, though the timeline of the show had barely advanced. While it helped that Maisie is fairly short (5'1"), she quickly became considerably more well developed than Arya most likely would have been, and thus she was almost always costumed in thick, padded shirts or tunics until she got a new, more dress-like outfit in Season 5.
  • Done For Science! in an episode of MythBusters, where the myth tested was whether large breasts resulted in bigger tips. Kari did three tests with her assets in different sizes; one with her breasts their usual size, one with her breasts temporarily "enhanced", and one fitting this trope, where her breasts were taped down to reduce them by two cup sizes. Conclusion 
  • Ariel Winter in Modern Family started out flat-chested (it makes sense; she was 11 when the show started) and eventually grew past Sofia Vergara's famously curvy frame (Vergara, though, is 5'7", while Winter is only 5'1") . Similarly to Soleil Moon Frye, Winter revealed in August 2015 that she'd had a breast reduction in June that took her from 32F to 34D, citing negative media attention as as one of her primary reasons.
  • Done In-Universe in the opening scene of the pilot of Lois & Clark, where Lois Lane enters the Daily Planet office in disguise as a bearded man for undercover work on an assignment. Before removing the beard she reaches under her shirt to unfasten the binding on her chest, and she expresses clear relief once it is off.
  • Lea Michele is naturally curvy, but had to flatten her chest to play Rachel Berry on ''Glee, where her character is described as being "Kinda hot if you're not into boobs".
  • Jodelle Ferland in Dark Matter is supposed to be a teenager, and thus she is always padded down and costumed in baggy, concealing clothing to disguise her large breasts.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Safe Havens, the high school girls' basketball team decide to stand in for the boys' team (It Makes Sense in Context). They do this in part by buying bras four sizes too small.

  • Natani from TwoKinds had her soul severely damaged by magic, and the only way to save her life was by bonding what was left of her soul to that of her twin brother. Since she's also trying to pass as a male most of the time, she uses this trope to keep her physical gender a secret.
  • Yuki of Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki tried to do this, but ended up passing out due to her inability to breathe. Being a victim of Gender Bender and all that.
  • Tai from Questionable Content mentioned that she did this at one point to pass as a boy; she still does it occasionally for a pretense of androgyny. (In her earliest appearances, she distinctly has no bosom, as opposed to later.)
  • Megatokyo's resident cute robot girl, Ping, did this at one point in an attempt to return to her "plain" appearance. Upon learning the truth, Junko Ibara berates her for doing this, saying, "It's not good for them!"

    Real Life 
  • Jessica Simpson began her career in show business as a Christian pop singer. During this stage of her career, she would often tape down her breasts for performances because her promoters felt that an attractive blonde with D-cup boobs wasn't the best image for a gospel singer.
  • Along with Petite Pride, flappers of The Roaring '20s wore special flattening bras to make them appear younger and more boyish.
  • WWE women's wrestler Bayley wears a more suppressed athletic top than the usual revealing women's wrestling garb, due to her persona being geared towards little kids and being very endowed up top.
  • Patty Maloney once wrote that she had her chest bound whenever she portrayed a little girl.
  • When older cast members of the musical version of Annie would start to develop, many did this in order to avoid being fired from their roles.
  • Mara Wilson has written about being humiliated when she began to go through puberty during the filming of Thomas and the Magic Railroad and was asked to wear undergarments to hide her developing body. This distressed her enough that it contributed to her decision to give up film acting.