• Tue, Mar 12 2013

I Got My 9-Year-Old Her First Bra Even Though She Doesn’t Have Breasts Yet

first braMy daughter got her first bra.

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?

(photo: karen roach / Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
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  • http://twitter.com/buzzbishop Buzz Bishop

    Funny you should write that just as I wrote this: http://www.babble.com/kid/the-impatient-parent-doing-too-much-too-soon/

  • chickadee

    Yes. TMI.

    I was with you on the issue about bras and peer pressure, though. My youngest had a couple at that age, even though she had no need for one at all. Sleepovers made them mandatory.

    • Sara

      Uuuuhhhh…..yeah. I was actually pretty much with you until that last bit, but holy hell, was that TMI. Way, way, waaaayyyy TMI. Your daughter does not need her classmates reading about how she watches you change your tampon and get your hoo-ha waxed.

    • chickadee

      And I am not sure why she needs to see a used tampon….I can’t finish this comment. Some things are private. Pretty soon she will be privy to all of Rebecca’s Vagina Activities save (I hope) the Big One.

    • raeronola

      I would have been scarred for the rest of my life if I had seen my mother change her tampon. Jesus H Christ.

      Also, this: She modeled them for me and all I could think was, “FUCK ME. YOU LOOK GOOD!”

      This is so full of WTF that I can’t even…

    • chickadee

      I know….I mean, comfort levels are different for everyone, but the use of the word fuck, even to herself, in conjunction with the way her daughter looks in underwear was kind of creepy for me. Freud would love this.

    • rebecca eckler

      well, she DID look good. What can I say? Also, I lived with just her and me since before she turned two. I mean, I had to take her into the washroom with me sometimes!! She’s not scarred. I promise.

    • nzady

      You don’t do it NOW do toy?

    • chickadee

      Well, the article says “she watches me change tampon,” so it does sound like it’s an ongoing thing.

    • Charlotte25

      FUCK ME YOU LOOK GOOD. That seems an appropriate thought process to you? OK. Wow.

    • Sara

      I feel awkward changing my tampon in front of the cat, I can’t imagine doing it in front of another human.

    • Eileen

      I guess the post was a little too non-controversial – sports bra and reasonably conservative but pretty panties for her kid? – that she just had to throw something in to keep our brows furrowed.

  • http://twitter.com/babaloomaloo babaloo maloo

    Ah! I remember my first sports bra ( I was 10 early developer.) Good times. I have to say though the whole openness about periods thing nonplusses me a bit. We don’t talk much about other bodily functions do we? I don’t think I even told my mom when I got mine.

  • melody

    I just had to buy my daughter some sports bras. She sprouted breast buds just shy of her 8th birthday. Part of me thinks it’s waaaayy too soon for that, but then I remember that I was beginning to develop at that age, too. And she does look cute in her little bras, the same way I think that babies look adorable in bikinis. Plus it keeps everything under wraps, which is great because I kept finding myself just staring at her chest all the time, like I couldn’t believe there were little boobies there.
    The tampon thing doesn’t really weird me out so much, but I grew up in a “naked house”.

  • lea

    As someone who vividly remembers being in the doctor’s room while my mum got a pap smear (I was 2 at the time), and was very confused and uncomfortable about it for a long time, mostly because I had no idea WTF was going on, I have to say letting anyone- let alone your child, watch you change a tampon is so full of ick.

    I don’t want you to think I was brought up in a family of prudes either. We were a fairly nudist family when I was little. I saw both of my parents naked as a child, there was never any taboo about nudity or private parts, or discomfort about discussing them or seeing each other naked. But you gotta draw the line somewhere!

    You may think they are fine, they may never show any outward signs of discomfort or confusion- but you may never know (I still haven’t told my mother I remember it).

    That said, I’m pretty sure I’ve turned out just fine…. or at least no one has told me any different ;)

  • gabe

    My daughter has watched me change tampons too, but only because she barges in on me in the bathroom. I’m pretty cautious and she has never seen a used tampon. When she wanted to understand how they worked, I took a tampon out of the package and we put it in water. She then stopped being interested. No big deal.

  • Elizabeth

    I remember getting sports bras and these little bralettes that were really just thin bandeau tops that did nothing up make you feel mature. =]

    As far as the whole “She looks good” thing: I don’t believe Ms. Eckler was in any way sexualizing her daughter, but expressing surprise that her daughter is coming into the age where her appearance is more relatable to that of an adult. Suddenly she can relate to her daughter as more than just a baby, but instead as she might (in part) to a girlfriend. In all honesty, it’s kind of refreshing to see a mother who isn’t terrified by the idea of her daughter getting a little older. I remember my friends who’s parents would try to keep them from anything that would make them older. Almost 15 years later and they don’t have a good relationship.

    And the tampon thing: it got me a little too. But when I thought about it, does it really matter? I used to barge into my mom’s bathroom all the time and saw plenty. And while I never saw her actually change a tampon I saw something worse. Back in the early 2K we had new “eco flush” toilets that had a propensity of clogging up on an almost daily basis. You haven’t see the worse of it until you see a backed up toilet during someone’s period. I’ve turned out fine; no therapy needed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/priscilla.bourne Priscilla Anderson

    My wee uns love trying to put on my bras but they’re just toddlers. I look forward to bra shopping with my girls! When my little ones are running around in their boy shorts before shrugging not pj’s I thnk they’re adorable too.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    The tampon stuff was way, way TMI, but I don’t disagree with you buying your daughter a bra despite her current lack of boobage. I vividly remember that at the same age, there was a really big hierarchy in my class, with the girls whose moms let them get bras ranking far above those who didn’t. Actual boobs didn’t matter. If it makes her happy, there’s no harm in it.

  • Charlotte25

    This woman is seriously mentally ill, and doing damage to her children. Please, Mommyish, stop allowing her to publicly humiliate them this way. She needs help, serious, extensive help, not a column. If I was the mother of the step-daughters and read that she changes her tampons in front of her own daughter, I’d be seriously concerned about having my kids in her orbit. This isn’t funny anymore.