Show her support, not shame.
When I asked for a bra in third grade, my mom shot me down.
“You don’t need one!” she said, motioning toward my chest. And she was right. I was, anatomically, still the same on the top as my best buddy (who happened to be a boy), but I wanted one anyway. They were cute, and I liked the idea of an extra layer over my chest, like my mom and older cousins had. But she stuck to her guns.
By the time I started developing, acquiring a bra was at the forefront of my mind. I already knew that little bit of fabric was a very big deal, and sadly, the excitement I felt was laced with a sense of shame and the sneaking feeling that there was something wrong with wanting one.
Now that I’m a mom, I never want my kids to feel shame for their bodies or for growing up.
But lately, many of my friends who are parents have been upset over the fact that bras are being made for and marketed to pre-pubescent girls.
My answer? Bras for little girls are great … seriously!
There’s nothing wrong with little girls in age-appropriate bras, if they want to wear them.
After all, science says that girls start puberty between the ages of 8 and 13, and studies have shown that minority girls may go through puberty even younger than white girls. So sometimes young girls are going to need bras.
Sometimes they just want a bra for fun. That’s OK, too!
Because there’s NOTHING sexual about an age-appropriate bra for a kid who wants one. There are styles made just for little girls, just as there are for adolescents and teens. There’s even a cool new line of Star Wars bras and sports bras for girls.
Marnie Goldenberg, a health consultant and sexual health educator who focuses on helping parents raise sexually intelligent kids, explains that wanting a bra is perfectly fine and normal for some kids.
“Some kids are watching and really tuned into adult activity and behavior. That’s OK and it doesn’t mean they are going to have sex earlier,” Goldenberg explains. She also mentions that there are 6-year-olds who want to wear nail polish and walk around in high heels. All of that is OK, as is wearing a cotton bra under her shirt.
And while most of us grown-ups think about looking sexy when we buy bras, and consider the image of a woman wearing a bra as sexual in nature, kids are different. Your daughter may be looking for a bra because she wants more modesty, may feel more physically comfortable in one, or she may just like the way it looks.
And these are ALL good reasons to buy her a bra if she wants one. If she’s very young, get her a sports bra or camisole type so it stays on (if she’s not developed enough, a bra will probably just ride up).
Let her know that she can talk to you about her feelings, needs, and how she’s changing. This may very well be your first opportunity to let your daughter know that the changes her body will go through are wonderful, and that you are always going to be there for her with non-judgmental support.
The fact that our little kids are going to grow up is a GOOD thing. Embrace this phase of your daughter’s life with enthusiasm and pride, not shame and secrecy, and she will learn that she has someone she can rely on through the turbulent times to come.
Joanna Schroeder is a beach-loving, skateboarding, working mom who is totally obsessed with her kids. She serves as an Editor of YourTango, is a freelance writer, and is permanently in-progress on a novel and a screenplay. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.
This originally appeared on YourTango. Republished here with permission.