Bra Makers are Boobs

31 Aug

I was in middle school—we called it junior high back then—when I got my first one. My mother took me shopping, after enduring weeks of insistence that I really did need one. “What do you want one of those for, honey?” she said. “You don’t even need one.”

“Yes! Yes, I do!” I said. “I’m the only girl who doesn’t have one. They all make fun of me!”

So, off we went to my mother’s favorite department store for my first bra.

I was excited; the teasing and torment were finally going to end. I was excited, that is, until I encountered Brunhilda. I have no idea if the woman’s name really was Brunhilda. The German accent I recall is probably a fabrication of my scarred mind. But there she was, standing between me and the lingerie that would deliver me from the hell of changing for gym in a locker room full of growing girls.

Brunhilda was tall. Brunhilda was big. And Brunhilda had the biggest breasts I’ve ever seen on a woman. There are lots of names for breasts. Some are cute, like “titties” and “boobies.” Some are funny. Think “chesticles” and “sweater puppies.” But this woman had jugs, each about the size of my head.

My mother introduced us, noting that Brunhilda would be fitting me for a bra. Without saying a word, Brunhilda whipped the tape measure from where it was draped around her neck and lassoed me with it. She measured under my wee bits. She measured across my wee bits. She stood and announced, “You don’t need zee bra.”

Just as she was about to point us in the direction of the undershirts, my mother worked some kind of Southern Belle voodoo on her, which consisted of dressing a tart request in a sweet gooey accent. Suddenly, training bras appeared and I could undress proudly for gym.

Our current bra problem is not mine and there is no voodoo my mother can work to make this one disappear.

The cute little bralettes and sports bras my daughter has been wearing, off and on, for some time now have a fatal flaw: they can be seen under white shirts. Because nipples can be seen under white shirts when one doesn’t wear a bra, all of my daughter’s white shirts are no longer wearable and she has a lot of white shirts.

So, we went on the hunt for flesh-tone bras, the kind that blend with your skin tone and seem to disappear under a white shirt.

My daughter has skin the color of very expensive, very fine milk chocolate. I love her skin. In winter, it glows with a warmth that belies the frigid outdoor weather. In summer, it takes on deep cinnamon hues; she looks good enough to eat.

Flesh-toned bras are the color of some mythical Caucasian woman’s skin. Though they work well enough for me, they don’t really match the skin tone of any real woman I know. Still, we white ladies don’t have to toss our white shirts when the boobies start to appear.

There are no options for budding young dark-skinned girls. I know this because I’ve looked in every conceivable place for some kind of undergarment that will enable my daughter to wear her favorite white shirts again. I’ve looked at Nordstrom, Gap Kids, Justice, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Aerie, Amazon, Brasmyth and Target.

I’ve even been to Gilly Hicks—a store for girls—where “Push ‘Em Up” bras and thongs are displayed under spotlights in otherwise dark shopping environments. A virtual trip to their website was even more frightening. Again, the bras are displayed against a black background, but here they promised “perfect fit with lots of lift.

As a teacher and mother to a ten-year old daughter and a teen-age son, I’ve seen quite a few girls in the Gilly Hicks target market. The only lift any of them needed was to the mall. Aren’t’ perky breasts part and parcel of being a teen?

Lest you think young girls are going after a product marketed to women, take a peek at the GH Girls landing page, where you’ll see a disrobing man and an invitation to “become a Gilly Hicks girl.”

Image: Gilly Hicks

The message my shopping ventures delivered was loud and clear, wrapped in a package replete with hypersexualization and a side order of racism. It’s perfectly ok to acknowledge, even celebrate, my daughter’s burgeoning womanhood. She can, in fact, find any number of garments guaranteed to have her walking down Lolita lane. What she can’t have is a single article of clothing that will enable her to wear her favorite white T-shirt with the pink and grey horse on it.


18 Responses to “Bra Makers are Boobs”

  1. floodedroses August 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Totally the opposite for me. I didnt want a bra.
    It was just something that meant I had to stop being a kid, and start being a ‘Woman’ . :/

    • jmlindy422 August 31, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

      I was ok with the bra. It was the period that I didn’t want! Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Pat August 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    What a horrible thought.
    Why do manufacturers want to turn children into little whores? It is vile. And you are obviously a considerate mother, but recently I saw a child of about eight wearing a T shirt that said Fcuk-me!!!!! What was her mother thinking? What were the manufacturers thinking?
    Of course your daughter wants and needs a bra, but she doesn’t need to be turned into some sexual pervert’s fantasy.

    • jmlindy422 August 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      Can’t believe the T-shirt. Geez, what is wrong with some people. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Mary Rayis August 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    What about bra top camis? They will give her a clean silhouette under the white t-shirts and can be found aplenty at Justice.

    By the way, I had the opposite problem. I was the second girl in 5th grade to get a bra, and the first one always walked by and snapped my bra strap. She thought she was being funny, but I was mortified. Big or small, breasts are just another thing for us women to feel insecure about.

    • jmlindy422 August 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

      Mary, they are white and they show under white t-shirts or they are “nude” and they show under white t-shirts if you have dark skin. We’ve got lots of little white bralettes. She doesn’t want the bra to show at all. And who can blame her?

      Maybe that other girl was trying to spread the mortification. Can’t be easy being the first with boobs in school, especially grade school. Or maybe she was gay and had a crush on you?

      • Mary Rayis September 1, 2012 at 8:56 am #

        Janice, That’s the beauty of the cami. It’s totally acceptable for you to see the outline under the t-shirt. You can’t really see the bra top aspect. As to the other girl in my class, you are probably right. She seemed so upfront about it, but maybe she was just hiding her embarrassment. Or a lesbian crush? I’m okay with that.

  4. The Waiting August 31, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    That Gilly Girl promo pic is truly disturbing. I am so glad bra shopping days are a long way off for us. I’m still trying to get over my own adolescent awkwardness with bras.

    • jmlindy422 August 31, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

      Gilly Hicks is owned by the same people who own Abercrombie & Fitch, where you can buy the naughty school girl look for your naughty school girl. Makes me sick and scared. Hoping things are better for Miss C.

  5. Jim August 31, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    Sooooooooooo glad I had all sons.

    • jmlindy422 August 31, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

      Things are scary with boys in different ways! Thanks for dropping by.

  6. twistingthreads September 1, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    I agree that the manufacturer’s idea of a nude bra is ridiculous. I don’t know any woman whose skin tone even begins to match those colors, and I had to give up wearing white years ago (and I’m pasty, you’d think one of their options would work for me, but no). When I googled the situation, I discovered that there’s a movement to change this for people who aren’t “nude”. Interestingly, one of the pages mentioned being forced to buy white bras and dye them the correct color. Dying everything seems like a pain, but until everyone who isn’t “nude” is heard, it might be the best option. Unless, of course, there’s an overseas retailer who understands that people come in more than one or two colors. Just don’t google the words “bra” and your daughter’s biological heritage without safe search on. Trust me, I tried. It didn’t end well.

  7. nevercontrary September 1, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    My mother was one of those moms buying me inappropriate underwear in highschool. Looking back she was wild to do such a thing. Did I really need see through panties mom?

    • jmlindy422 September 4, 2012 at 9:11 am #

      Oooooooh! See through panties! They didn’t have those at Gilly Hicks. Or maybe they did. The place scared me so much I beat it out of there as fast as I could. What do you think possessed your mother to do such a thing? Did you ask for them, you naughty girl?

      • nevercontrary September 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

        I don’t remember if I asked or she just thought they were cute. A few weeks later she did come in my room crying I was going to get pregnant. I told her you have to have sex to get pregnant mom. ha ha ha

  8. scribblechic September 1, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    My daughter dances between a cherished tomboy wardrobe and a sprinkling of little girl dresses. I am all too aware of the unfortunate and inappropriate offerings for young girls, as well as the blatantly sexualized marketing strategies. The undertones of racism are something I have not experienced, but I share your frustration.

  9. The Hook September 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Sorry I haven’t been around much lately, but my book, The Bellman Chronicles, will be FREE to download on Sept. 10 – 11! Check it out on my Amazon Kindle page.. You won’t be disappointed. And if you can slip me a review, I’d be forever grateful…

    • jmlindy422 September 4, 2012 at 9:11 am #

      Best of luck with your book, but I’m Kindle-less. I hope to be able to get a Nook sometime soon, though.

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