Busty women have banded together to battle Britain's largest clothing retailer over a surcharge for extra-large brassieres.

Frustrated with failed attempts to convince Marks & Spencer to drop a 2 pound ($3) extra charge for sizes DD and larger, the women plan to take their fight to the company's annual meeting.

"They aren't listening to customers, maybe they'll listen to shareholders," said Beckie Williams, a founder of Busts 4 Justice who has purchased a share of M&S stock so she can attend the meeting. "People think it would be great to have big boobs, but it's an emotional issue, it can make you feel isolated, and shopping at Marks & Spencer can make you feel like a freak when they charge you extra."

The group, which has grown to several thousand members via Facebook, seems to have tapped into a reserve of resentment.

"Women have kept this to themselves," Williams said. "The outpouring has to do with women venting their frustration."

The issue is important for M&S, which has long sold mid-priced underwear to a large segment of the British population. The venerable institution is positioned between high-class lingerie shops like Rigby & Peller (which has the queen's imprimatur) and bargain-priced chains like Primark.

The company says the extra engineering and material needed for a large size bra justify the markup, but the women say the policy is unfair, especially since clothing stores do not charge more for extra large pants, socks, or men's briefs.

The issue has simmered for nearly 10 months, but erupted several days ago when M&S officials publicly rebuffed calls to change policy, prompting several female columnists to complain.

Prominent TV personality Ulrika Jonsson wrote Thursday in the Daily Mail that the M&S policy is misguided.

"There aren't enough negative adjectives to describe how much I hated having big boobs," said Jonsson, who recently had breast reduction surgery. "So the suggestion that I'd have to pay over the odds for a bigger bra is not only appalling; it's deeply insulting."

Britain's cleavage-friendly tabloid press jumped into the fray Thursday, with The Sun taking an editorial stance against the extra charge. The newspaper quoted some of its Page Three girls — who usually appear topless in the popular feature — denouncing the surcharge as discriminatory.

The newspaper illustrated its article with photos of prominent, bikini-clad show business personalities who would have to pay the surcharge if shopping at M&S.

M&S spokeswoman Jessica Harris said in a statement that it would be impossible to cut prices on large-size bras without reducing quality.

"At DD and above, the weight of a woman's breast requires additional support, fabric and structure in a bra and from our years of experience we know it's critical not to cut corners on this," she said.

The conflict has given other retailers a chance to cut into M&S' traditionally strong hold on the British underwear market. A number of specialty online retailers are offering larger size bras — winning praise from Busts 4 Justice — and the retail chain ASDA is emphasizing its "one price for all" strategy.

"Why should bigger busted women be penalized?" said Leah Watson, spokeswoman for George, the in-house ASDA brand. "Obviously the majority of women can't choose their shape. People who are shopping on a budget shouldn't have to pay more to look good or to feel good."

She said the company loses money by selling oversize bras for as little as 4 pounds ($6), but does not want larger women to be charged extra.