Interview with Founder & CEO of Bust A Move, Alison Leddy
I was inspired to start Bust A Move because I have valued exercise and sports my entire life, even as someone who is a pretty mediocre athlete. My parents have always encouraged me and my sisters to play sports and to stay active as a way to make friends, to build confidence, and to have better physical and mental health. I have especially valued sports since I’ve gotten older because I realized that having healthy habits that started in elementary school really paid off when I was super stressed about college or when I was trying to get acclimated to a new city after graduation. For me, sports and exercise laid an important foundation in my life and so I want to make sure that other girls have access to that.
When and how were you made aware that girls were dropping out of sports because of their breasts?
The summer of 2016, I was listening to a podcast called Stuff Mom Never Told You where they were discussing participation of girls in sports. They mentioned a specific study done in the UK that found that girls were uncomfortable about their breasts and exercise and that girls were citing their breasts as a reason to stop exercising or to stop playing sports.
As someone who’s always championed causes that seek to improve the lives of women and girls, I know that there are various organizations working to motivate and keep girls in sports. But, when I was listening to this podcast, I realized that for me personally, the most annoying thing about being an athlete is having large breasts. And that having large breasts is in and of itself a deterrent. I didn’t see anyone who ever talked about this problem or anyone who designed products for my body type.
How has being busty affected your relationship with sports/physical activity?
With being busty and exercising, there’s a big picture problem and a day-to-day problem. The day-to-day problem is that it has always been really hard to find supportive sports bras. Due to constant breast bouncing, it would hurt to run and jump and do cardio in the moment - and then back soreness and pain would emerge after my workout stopped. I started wearing two sports bras to my lacrosse practices in high school and to my CrossFit classes throughout college to feel secure during all of the medium and high-intensity activities.
The big picture problem is that society tells us that women and girls should be busty or look busty to be “desirable.” Obviously this is very problematic and based on the male gaze. And then, if you actually are busty, you’re not given the space to discuss the associated pain and discomfort. Serena Williams is a busty athlete but she gets her sports bras custom made in Australia. You shouldn’t have to be the GOAT to be busty and able to compete and exercise without physical pain.
What did you take into consideration while you were designing your sports bra?
First, I wanted function to be the foundation. I want this bra to be worn underneath their school jerseys. I want girls to be able to wear them to practice multiple times and I want them to feel comfortable and supported without feeling like they’re wearing their mom’s bra. There are no wires digging in to maximize comfort. Plus, our unique strap design stops the pressure and weight of the bra from just hanging around your neck.
The science shows that having encapsulation style bras, which basically is the regular bra that you would think of where each breast is encapsulated, is the most effective. But that's not something that 15 year old girls are going to buy off the rack - it looks so different from what their friends are wearing and it looks different from what big-name athletes are wearing. It can make them feel less comfortable in their own skin if the product isn’t designed for them. I've designed our bra to make sure that it looks and feels just like any other sports bra to girls, but it has additional added support so that it makes them feel just as good as anyone else.
If you were to give advice to girls about boobs, what would it be?Breast development doesn’t say anything about who you are as a person, your personality, or your potential to be whoever you want to be. Even though it can be a hard process (what part of growing up isn’t hard?) it’s important to embrace changes and try to feel comfortable in your own skin.
Additionally, there is an idea that when you develop breasts, “you become a woman,” so people and society look at you differently. This is a really unfair thing we do to girls because you have no control over when you develop breasts. If you’re 12 and you have boobs, no one should be sexualizing you and no one should be making you feel like anything other than 12 years old. And the same goes if you’re 16, 20, whatever that might be. On the other hand, if you’re not busty, this doesn't make you any less of a woman.
Being busty or not can be just like having big feet or small feet. And with Bust A Move, we want to make it as simple as that. When your feet grow every year, you’re going to need new cleats every year and you just get shoes that fit. And with sports bras and regular bras, we need to make sure that girls and women are able to get bras and sports bras that fit so that they can reach their full potential.