When I was about 12, I probably single-handedly doubled my family's toilet tissue budget with all the wads I stuffed down in my tank tops and t-shirts. That Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret exercise--"I must, I must, I must increase my bust… I will, I will, I will increase my skill"--wasn't working for me and, well, I was tired of being the president and CEO of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee, what with all the attention Amy and Heddie and a few of my other friends were getting with their womanly boobies. Like, seriously? I was so flat I was doggone near inverted. I worked that scratchy toilet tissue like a corner boy does the midnight shift.
But my, um, enhancements were solely that--mine. I couldn't go to the teen section in the local department store and cop a grown-up bra; they just didn't sell them there. Back then, little nuggets that barely poked through coordinating Garanimals shirts got flattened out by standard-issue training bras, especially when my mother Bettye was footing the bill. Twelve-year-olds--especially those living under Bettye's roof--were to look like little girls for as long as possible. Neither she nor Macy's was trying to help me vamp it up for my 7th-grade male classmates. Made perfect sense.
So can someone puh-leeze explain to me why, when Nick and I went into tween Heaven--a.k.a. Justice--to pick up a couple of outfits for the girls, there was an entire section of training bras with... wait on it...padding. Like, seriously, Victoria's Secret-worthy padding. Right next to the table full of low-cut bikini panties with hearts and rhinestones and stuff all over them.
So, 10-year-olds need padded bras now? For what, so they can look like they have bigger boobs under their Bobby Jack t-shirts? So, what, 10-year-old boys--or worse, 17-year-old boys and grown men--can get a better visual of little girls with Brick House bodies?
And we're seriously wondering why teenage pregnancy rates are rising after decades of declining. And why most of the teenage girls who end up pregnant tend to get knocked up by grown men. And why 12-year-olds look and act way more grown than any 12-year-old ever should.
Look no further than the training bra rack at the local children's department for at least some of the explanation for these things.
When, people? When are we going to stand up as moms and demand that these stores stop sexualizing our girls? For sure, Nick and I brought our concerns to the store clerks; a few of them shook their heads in agreement--totally understanding why the parents of an 11-year-old would be bothered by padded bras for little girls. One pointed out to us a few more traditional training bras; they were buried at the bottom of the rack, way in the back. But the manager, well, she thought we were making much ado about nothing. "Some girls need the extra support," she said weakly.
I'm sure. But we moms don't have to support stores that try to turn our girls into women way before their time. Keep that in mind the next time you happen into a store that tries to make your baby look like a Victoria's Secret model before she even has a chance to see her little nuggets blossom into something to look at.
Just think about it.