I'm of the philosophy that most of us do not "need" to wear a bra. I do have a couple wireless soft bras for certain outfits or to use in the early stages of bfing when leaking is an issue. But I primarily rely on camis or nothing at all if the outfit is conducive to allowing my breasts to be free, and I embrace a natural approach to this part of our anatomy.
My 9 1/2 yo dd is just showing the beginning signs of starting to develop. (I started developing even earlier, at 8, so this is not altogether too surprising). I would feel hypocritical insisting she wear a bra, but I think soon she'll probably be more comfortable if she has some kind of under-layer beneath her shirt. She hasn't expressed a desire for a bra yet, but I'm worried that she will think she has to have one at some point, and I want to be prepared to offer her alternatives and be explicit that it is her choice and she doesn't "need" to wear a bra if she doesn't want to. What alternatives are there for developing girls? Is there anything better than just suggesting she wear a cami? (Incidentally, it is highly disturbing to me that when you peruse the undergarment girls' section in most department stores, you see a plethora of underwire "push-up" style bras for tweens, and only a few of the old-style cotton "training bras" that used to be the only thing available when I was hitting adolescence. Anyone else feel this is a dangerous trend?).
Sarah born 04/03/02 , Ashley born 03/13/04, Rigel born 09/10/11
Tanks are great these days. DD wears them under most her shirts (and most shirts these days are meant to be worn with a tank. We get them with the built in shelf bra and outside of school, she just wears that with no bra. Sports bras are comfy and we've found some cool ones at Kohls. These days though she just has normal lined bras.
I wouldn't insist. I'd just purchase a couple for to have "just in case." She may choose not to wear them but they are there if the need arises.
I would make it equally clear that she CAN wear a bra if she wants to.
I think bras (and feminine hygiene products) are deeply, deeply personal, and I explain that we women have different options. I've explained what I do and what their other options are.
Depending on what her life is like (how often she changes in front of her peers) she may want a normal bra and not making one readily available could cause her a lot of grief at a stage where fitting in is phenomenally important. Her desire to not stand out will most likely peak around 12/13. It's completely normal, even for girls raised in an alternative way. If she attends school or plays sports where she changes or goes to sleep overs, she may want a bra that looks pretty much like the one's every one else has.
I always make it VERY clear to my DDs that them being 100% comfortable is far, far more important to than which specific item they chose.
But, as far as other options, both my DDs made wide use of tank tops with built in shelf bras before they were really cup sizes.
but everything has pros and cons
Target carries plenty of plain non-padded, non-push up training bras. I agree that I would make them available. They're cheap enough. It can be a choice she makes.
"All you fascists are bound to lose" — Woody Guthrie
Justice has nice, small, plain bras for young girls as well as padded and molded bras for girls who want those.
I agree that it can be disconcerting to see some of the bra options out there, but the reality is that it's nice to have some choices. The undershirt style, single layer, cotton style works for a while, but in my experience, not for long. By 7th gr, my dd wanted more coverage, so something with removable pads, or more lining actually worked better. She likes sports bras because she's pretty active. But there are also some very pretty, feminine bras for her age that are nice to have just because she wants them, and wants to try them out, and see what different styles look and feel like.
Ah, sports bra style bras were something I hadn't thought of, but I think they would be a nice option, and I imagine it would be easy for a tween to put on because you don't have to contend with hooks. Maybe when she seems ready I'll take her shopping and let her choose. I guess it could be good to encourage her to try a couple different things, too?? I know even for me, it depends what outfit I'm wearing as to whether I go with a cami, soft bra, or nothing, so I guess it couldn't hurt to have an assortment of undergarments, and that way she can experiment, too.
Linda, I do agree that I want her to be comfortable and choose to wear a bra or not as she deems is best for her. I guess I'm just defensive against the whole push-up bra societal mentality, and would prefer to gently encourage her to find undergarments or bras that don't overly sexualize or restrict... I do love the shelf-bra camis as a compromise between being bra-less and having coverage and support, but I hadn't considered that she might encounter pressure to wear a slightly more traditional bra in the presence of peers. She currently attends a Montessori elementary school so locker-room dynamics have yet to enter her world or my mind, but she will surely face those in a couple years when she gets to middle school. Perhaps if I'm proactive now about explaining all her options, she'll be able to figure out what works for her by that time...
Sarah born 04/03/02 , Ashley born 03/13/04, Rigel born 09/10/11
What works for her may end up being a moving target.
One of my DD's was a DDD before leaving middle school. Her concerns were far from buying into society's values. A few years ago, I started taking her in for professional fittings once a year. The first time we spent over an hour with her trying on different styles with the help of a wonderful saleswoman, and my DD was able to figure out what she liked. (her bras cost about $80 each). Once she got her perfect bra, she stood up straighter and become more comfortable with her body. She felt less like her breast were freaks of nature that she should try to hide by slumping all the time.
Now the shopping goes a lot faster, but having the right bras is really helpful for her.
My other DD is super slim, but a C cup. Stores to do carry bras in size. She really like some light padding, not because she wants to be bigger, but she feels less exposed. She's still in middle school, but a slightly shaped bra is actually a way of hiding for her. It makes her more comfortable and covered.
I'm sure you'll do a great job with the stuff, but having been bra shopping with two very differently shaped adolescence, my advice is to be mellow and accepting. It's tough for them.
but everything has pros and cons
I'm essentially bra free too. I'm in the habit of wearing a sports bra instead of a t-shirt around the house in hot weather, or actually wearing it under my shirt on really hot days when I go out. I'm very big breasted and get nasty heat rash from the sweat if I don't have something against the skin to absorb it. Maybe a few times a year I dress in an outfit for an event that I want the shaping of a regular bra for...for my own vanity or whatever...and I have a single nice bra for those occasions.
Anyway, my dd is 10. Her nipples started getting uncomfortably sensitive around her 10th bday. The camis were rubbing just like t-shirts and she needed something tighter against her skin as a protective layer. We went bra shopping. She found the seams and shoulder straps of sports bras too bulky and uncomfortable, but liked the feel of regular training bras. The only options were formed cups to make her look like she was a B+ cup (yes, totally disturbing), or one single plain white thing small enough for her. We picked up the white thing and let her aunt (the perfect person for the job) know what size and style she liked so she could find her something super cute online for a bday present. I believe she got them at Target.com (though the white thing was the only thing in the store). It all worked out great. Dd has about 5-6 simple, cute training bras. She would only wear them every once in a while, when she was feeling sensitive. Just this week, she's noticed that she's starting to get a little form to her chest. She usually runs around topless at home, and has started wearing her training bras around the house the way I wear my sports bras (see, I started with a point. lol). She's very into her outfits, so it means a lot for her to have something that makes her feel comfortable and is also cute when coordinated with her outfits. She's even more crunchy than I am though. I'm pretty sure the only reason she is wearing anything is to be compassionate to her incredibly conservative brother. lol ...Come to think of it, I think that's the only reason I do most of the time, too...
DD10 (11 next month) started wearing "training bras" maybe 6 months ago, we got them at Target in the underwear section and they were plain or polka dotted, pretty basic, but just regular cotton jersey and no padding. Now, she is probably an AA and laments being the "biggest girl in the class" chest wise (this is 5th grade) with the exception of two girls who are 5'2" or 5'3" and very developed... she's 4'8" and wears a 7/8 slim, so finding bras for her now is a little harder. Her Grandma had luck finding her some microfiber bras that are like a sports bra/shelf bra hybrid and breathe easily but still provide a thick layer. I've seen some like this in the Champion for Girls line as well, and Amazon seems to have some similar ones. They aren't quite "mashers" (like the ones I wear, compression sports bras), but they still make her feel protected even though they're not typical sports bras. My older DD13 started out with shelf bras, Hanes sells a 3-pack of them and they worked for her until she was a B or so and now she wears these horrible underwire padded things that would drive me up the wall, but I guess that's what her friends wear, so she does, too.
(gender)queer vegetarian artist co-parenting DDs 14 & 11 with DP and TTC little peanut #3
One thing to keep in mind is that your daughter will probably end up not knowing her own mind in these matters. On the one hand, she has you at home with your "bras are not really needed" attitude and on the other she does have classmates and friends whom will start to be sporting pretty bras as part of showcasing their budding "femininity". It is sickening, I agree with you...but there it is.
Personally, when I first started developing breast, I would very much have welcomed some sort of training bra. Not that I really needed one, but my nipples were so sensitive when I first came into puberty that even soft cotton felt as a grating iron against my skin. Horrible! Though, since I did not tell anyone about it...I never got a training bra. Eventually, I grew out of the feeling and then all was well for a couple of years. I think I was probably the only bra-less girl in all of high-school and was fine with it. Especially since I was only a 30B. Not much need for support even when running.
All that changed in my late teens, however, when my curves started filling out properly. I went from a 30B at my skinniest to a 32DD now seemingly over night. Which meant that I really needed a sports bra, all of a sudden, when doing active things. My breasts suddenly very heavy when bouncing around. In fact, they are pretty heavy all the time. I can feel the weight in front, pulling down. Personally...I just feel more comfortable when having a bit of support. At home, a tight tank-top that just keeps things in place does well enough but when out and about, I do find myself wearing a good fitting, nice, wired bra.
All that, just to say that your best bet is probably to approach all of this with a talk about being comfortable. Don't talk about what her alternatives are, especially not since you do seem to feel rather strongly about it. Instead, tell her that it is important that she never feels uncomfortable in any way due to her breasts. Make it clear that you are there for her, for any kind of problems she might be feeling with regards to her breasts be it sensitive nipples in need of a training bra to protect them, or heavy breasts needing a sports bra so she can continue being an active girl.
I think you should let her make her own choices without prejudice. I do not agree that bras are unnecesarry, nor are they some "tool of the man" to oppress women. We have breasts, they are usually more comfortable with some type of support. Why is that a bad thing. I really don't see why you wouldn't just let her pick her own undergarments. Isn't being a feminist about empowering women to make their own choices? How is trying to convince her that bras are uncessary empowering her choices?
My daughter is almost 9 and is just starting to develop. She is self-conscious that her nipples are visible in certain outfits and also the fabric rubbing is bothersome to her. For now she is just wearing a thin tank top under her clothes but when she is ready for something more I will be more than happy to get her whatever she wants. I have yet to see a bra that I think is inappropriate. I have lots of pretty bras from La Senza that I buy because they make ME feel good. I'm not doing it to fit into some idea of a women's beauty, I just like how they look and feel. I have no reason to keep my daughter from doing the same, and personally I feel it is unfair to do so.
I have a 9 year old that wears a bra (either the cotton training bras or the colorful sports bras) and she just feels so much more comfortable with them. I think it's really your daughter's decision and it's your job to help support her and find what's right for her, but ONLY when SHE'S ready!! As for trends, little girls don't really care about the push-up bras and what not (well, at least my 9 year old doesn't,) they only want what's comfy. Style comes later on in the teen years. Additionally, I buy all 3 of my girls' bras (aged 18, 13, and 9) from Macy's because they have modest, inexpensive, but still cute bras.