A first bra-shopping trip is a rite of passage that can define how a girl feels about her body. These days, most girls start shopping for bras long before they’re ready to be sexually active, which creates the potential for a fundamentally mixed message that comes along with the confusion of a developing body.
How we feel about our breasts is integral to how we feel about ourselves as women, and that’s why bra shopping is such a loaded topic. In order to make the shopping a pleasant experience, a Mom – or whoever is taking a girl shopping – first needs to be clear to send a positive message to her daughter. Too often, mothers choose to take bra shopping as an opportunity to initiate conversations about sex. That can make girls feel even more self-conscious. A first bra-shopping trip is already confusing and embarrassing for a girl without layering in the talk about birds and bees. This is particularly true when a girl starts developing at 8-10 years old. Yes, it’s important to talk to our daughters openly about sexual education, but that can – and should – be a different conversation. Wearing a bra can be discussed in terms of health and wellbeing.
Where you shop can also have an impact on how a young girl thinks about herself. Here are three tips to help everyone prepare for a positive first bra-shopping experience:
1) Pick a store that carries the merchandise you want to purchase, in sizes that work for your daughter. Some stores stock fist-bra styles, while others stock smaller sizes that are designed specifically for petite adults. These bras come in styles and materials that might fit your teen’s body, but are not appropriate for her age. A little homework about a store’s inventory will streamline an already emotional outing.
2) Find a sales person who can relate to your daughter with minimal embarrassment. Making an appointment ahead of time gives parents and the stores a chance to think about who will make the best assistant and can also pull merchandise expressly for the needs of that outing.
3) Be prepared for insecurity about a girl’s figure over the coming years. Girls are exquisitely sensitive and uncertain about the changes in their bodies at this age, so it’s a great opportunity to enforce messages about positive body-image, no matter how much or how quickly a girl’s body develops – or doesn’t. In the case of rapid development, new bras may be required quickly.
Shopping for a first bra has the potential to be confusing and embarrassing for a girl, but taking just a few minutes to think about the outing from her perspective can help reinforce positive messages about her body and, ultimately, her self-esteem.