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Parents Angry Over Padded Bras Being Sold to Kindergarteners

The Short of It

Would you buy your kindergartner a padded bra?

The Lowdown

Apparently, padded sports bras for kindergartners are a thing. And when one mom spotted a bunch of them on display in size 4-6X at her local department store, she quickly snapped a pic and posted it to Facebook, which sparked a debate on social media about its appropriateness for young girls.

"It's hard enough being a young girl developing early, maybe before you're emotionally ready for it and then dealing with seeing things like padded bras," Amy Yates, a mom to twin 9-year-old girls, told NBC 7. "That's sexualizing children way too early. They don't need to go to the store and see bras that are lacy and sexy and marketed toward them because they're going to think, 'Gee, is this what I'm supposed to be into right now?'"

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But Dr. Lisa Johnston, an OB-GYN, says she's seen girls developing as early as 7 years old, so she, for one, thinks all that padding may actually be a good thing.

"We definitely see it on the medical front that girls are going through puberty at a younger age," she said. "I think when kids are going through puberty, they're often very insecure and being proud of their body doesn't mean showing off their body."

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The bra in question was made by Hanes/Maidenform Girl, and the company defended the product in a statement to NBC 7: "The Maidenform bras developed for girls are not meant to 'enhance' a girl's figure. The 'padding' is thin stretch foam and is designed to provide modesty over figure enhancement."

The Upshot

I know many of you are probably rolling your eyes at Maidenform's sound bite right now. But here's the thing—it's actually true. My daughter is 13 now, but I watched her and all of her friends struggle with trying to hide their bodies for years. My daughter begged me to buy her padded bras and bathing suits starting all the way back in third grade, when she first started becoming self-conscious about her growing and changing shape.

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The added coverage that pads provide make the girls feel more comfortable. My daughter is small for her age and young for her grade, so she still wore a size 6X in second grade and part of third. But she developed early—and apparently many other girls do too—so for her, hiding behind a padded sports bra so she could confidently wear a tank top or leotard in dance class was a self-confidence builder.

Every girl's body grows and matures at a different rate, which is why it should be up to her parents (and not the public) to decide what's best for her.

"Trying to support your daughters and being comfortable in their own skin is an important thing," Johnston said. "A lot of girls at that age probably do want to have a little bit of coverage, and there's nothing wrong with that."

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