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Suppressed Mammaries

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"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. See also Contractual Purity. 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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  • 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.
  • In a rare non-age-related example, Lindsay Lohan's bust was digitally reduced for Herbie: Fully Loaded
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. For a second Julie Andrews example, see Victor/Victoria, below.
  • Victor/Victoria: Victoria (and consequently Julie 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.
  • This was famously done to Judy Garland to make her look younger for the role of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz as she was 16 playing an allegedly 12-year-old girl.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Buffy in later seasons of Family Affair. It did not end well for Anissa Jones, her actress.
  • 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 first season began filming in July 2010, Williams had just turned 13 but looked considerably younger, which fit her role as 11 or 12 year old Arya Stark. By the time they started shooting season 2 in July 2011, however, Williams was now 14 years old and puberty had started to kick in big time. While it helped that Maisie is fairly short (5'1"), she quickly became considerably more well developed than Arya could realistically have been given that only a few weeks had passed in the show's timeline, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Jennette McCurdy from iCarly. After seasons 1 and 2, the show took to wrapping Sam up in layers of 3 or 4 t-shirts. A few episodes in season 3, they forgot about this, such as the rabbi scene in iSaved Your Life.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • As the premise of The Flint Street Nativity is that the child characters are played by adult actors the female castmembers all had to do this in order to convincingly pass as children. Apparently they wore undersized swimsuits beneath their costumes.

    Real Life 
  • Along with Petite Pride, flappers of The Roaring '20s wore special flattening bras to make them appear younger and more boyish.
  • It has become common among female cosplayers to use binders to conceal their chests for cosplaying male characters (or Sheik). Same goes for quite a few trans men who want to bind. Ace bandagesnote  are not recommended, as they grow gradually tighter, and can break your ribcage.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Patty Maloney once wrote that she had her chest bound whenever she portrayed a little girl.

Alternative Title(s): Breast Binding


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