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A Cup Angst / Literature

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  • 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.
    "I must, I must, I must increase My Bust!" - chant by Margaret and her friends.
  • 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.
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  • Based on a True Story, Catalina, the teenaged protagonist of the Colombian novel later international franchise Sin Tetas No Hay Paraisonote , 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.
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  • Damned: Madison, who died before puberty, expresses jealousy of Babette's more developed body.
  • Discworld
    • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Kris Longknife frequently became depressed early in the series that she had nothing in the way of cleavage, especially as she seems to keep running into attractive women with greater endowments. She generally gets over it later, but still notices more endowed women with some envy. On the flipside, it means her Ninja Maid Abby can provide her with exploding falsies without making her look top-heavy. Inverted by her better-endowed frenemy Victoria Peterwald, who tells Kris she got off lucky: outside of their use in Distracted by the Sexy, which Vicky is a master of, her assets are actually a hindrance to her military career since they give her back problems and just get in the way while running.
  • Jessica Darling frequently laments her "A-minus cup" chest.
  • Queen Elizabeth III of Manticore commented in one of the novels that due to prolong treatment extending the stages of life, not just lifespan itself, she didn't have anything like a bust until well into her 20s. Apparently this had been a sore point for her.
  • Beth in The Fabulous Five series develops this after losing the role of Glinda in the school play to her rival Laura McCall, who is buxom.
  • The less developed girls in The Babysitters Club, have this.
  • It's downplayed, but Taylor Hebert in Worm is somewhat self-conscious about being rather tall and flat-chested, especially in her civilian life. At one point in her superhero battles she gets stabbed in the breast and self-deprecatingly wonders how her opponent could hit such a small target.
  • Alua in The Reunion With Twelve Fascinating Goddesses hates being compared to her older sister, who's the bustiest character in the series. It doesn't help that Alua is identical to her sister when she was her age, except for this one point.
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Played with in the Ayla stories, where Ayla helps one person at powers testing get implants to fix this, and get the guy she likes. When one of her own close friends wants Gag Boobs to become a stripper... Ayla rejects that whole-heartedly.
    • Jade Sinclair (Generator) is closer to the flat girl who worries about her lack of size and maintains that childishness too. In fact, she still looks like she's about eleven.
    • The otherwise level-headed Jadis Diabolik quietly seethes with envy towards the likes of Fey and Majestic over the fact that she is only modestly endowed herself, despite being an Exemplar (a power that adjusts the mutant's body to fit their ideal self-image, which in women usually leads to the Most Common Superpower).
  • Taylor, the protagonist of Worm, wears her hair long specifically because she feels herself to be lacking other feminine features.