My daughter has been begging for a sports bra for months now. I didn’t care. My daughter is as flat as my kitchen table and I tickle her and say, “But you have no BOOBS!” She still wanted one, because, as she said, “It makes me feel mature.”
This all stems, I think, from going to an all-girls school and having to change in front of other girls. She doesn’t care that she doesn’t have boobs. She cares that other girls have sports bras (mostly because they do need them. Yes, even at age nine, some of her friends are growing breasts.) So, no, I was never opposed to her getting a sports bra, I was just too lazy to go out and buy them. But her grandmother, however, who spends a lot of the time in the States at Nordstroms, was more than willing to go out and buy some when I told her that’s what her granddaughter wants.
“Oh good!” she said. “They have such cute matching underwear and sports bra sets, but I didn’t think her father would ever allow it, which is why I haven’t bought them before.”
Oh, her father. Who cares what he thinks when it comes to his daughter wearing a sports bra? This is one area he does not need to know about and frankly I’m quite positive he doesn’t want to know about it. He’s a great father, but I know I’m going to be the one my daughter comes to when she gets her period or kisses a boy or asks for birth control. In that sense, her dad is old-fashioned.
Times have certainly changed from when I was growing up. My grandmother embarrassed the shit out of me when she visited one day and poked my chest and said, “Time for someone to get a bra!” I ran upstairs and threw on three layers of shirts I was so mortified. Then, to make matters worse, because my parents were always tied at the hip, I had to ask for a bra in front of my father.
“I think I need a bra,” I remember saying as my mom and dad lay in their bedroom watching television. That weekend, we went to a department store and got possibly the ugliest bras in the world for me.
In any case, after a recent visit to her grandparents, my daughter came home with three sets of sports bras with matching boy short underwear. She modeled them for me and all I could think was, “FUCK ME. YOU LOOK GOOD!”
I do not think at all that putting a sports bra on my daughter, or her wearing boy shorts, is sexualizing her. In fact, I think it’s adorable that she wants to wear a bra (and, let’s be honest, boy shorts are fucking comfortable) and that the bras were so NOT ugly! Like I said, she has no breasts, so really it’s just fun for her to dress up, feeling as she says, “mature.” I like that my daughter is so open about bras.
My fiancé actually takes his pre-teen daughters bra shopping. I am shocked that he is so comfortable with this, but more shocked at some of the bras they come home with for his 14-year-old. They are leopard printed and push ups and lacy and, well, who cares? I’m mostly envious that she has such a nice bra collection, and wonder if maybe I should shop at PINK, like she does, instead of spending $200 on a bra for myself at a boutique, when I could get, like, 20 bras at PINK for the same price.
One day my daughter will actually have breasts and she’ll be open enough to talk to me about shopping for real bras. While I do believe that many stores do offer girls inappropriate outfits that perhaps do sexualize them, I’m more happy that my daughter can come talk to me about bras and that my stepdaughter feels comfortable enough to go with her father bra shopping.
So, yes, children grow up much faster these days, but I also find they are much more comfortable telling their parents things. My mother explained what a period was to me in secret at home. My daughter actually watches me change tampons (TMI?). My stepdaughter talks about her period in front of her dad all the time at home. When you’re surrounded with that, what’s the biggie with a sports bra for a 9-year-old?