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What Age Should a Girl Be Made to Start Wearing a Bra

My daughter is 11 years old and refuses to start wearing a bra. She has developed enough that she really should start wearing one but she is a total tomboy. 99% of the neighbor kids are 9-10yr old boys and one 7yr old girl. Some of her girl friends in school have started wearing bras and some haven't. I asked her if she thinks the other kids will notice or say something but she just says she will start wearing one when summer starts. For now she compromises and wears an undershirt under her school uniform shirts.

She loves swimming and has always worn the swim type shirts for boys. I told her this summer she can still wear the swim shirt but she absolutely must wear a swim suit underneath. She grumbles she just won't swim this summer. I'm sure she'll cave in and wear the suit underneath because she loves swimming too much.

Any suggestions on what to say to make the transition easier and more comfortable? What type of bra should we start off with?

What can I do next?

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Uuuugggghhh, Boobs! I hate a bra and mine comes off the moment I get home. I don't even bother with cami's. I agree with the rest of the ladies with the sports bras. Definitely don't make a huge deal or force her into an "over the shoulder boulder holder." I remember myself at that age, I was a major tomboy and I hated the thing. No sports bras in my day.

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Sounds like she has made a compromise for the moment.. The good thing is that once she does wear a bra, she can wear a sports bra. Many girls her age and as active as she is wear them all of the time. Take her to Academy or a sports store so she will feel more at home, than a "girlie" store.

She will have to wear a bra as soon as her nipples become sensitive. It only takes one day of being chafed by her clothes or ill fitting swimsuit to realize, why we have to wear bras or swim suit tops.. The other thing is that if you notice her nipples through her shirt. Try to take a photo and show it to her, she will also want to be covered up.

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My daughter is 13 and loves her sports bra's and has been wearing them since about age 11. It was only this year that she asked for a regular bra but she still wears her sports bra most of the time.

L.

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I cried for 3 hours when my Mom forced me into a bra the first time. Whenever possible, I'm still avoiding the darn things!

I have discovered a most wonderful garment for those of us who hate wearing a bra: the camisole with built in shelf bra. I wear them underneath my clothes instead of a bra. Of course, I wear a real bra to work and church. But on my time -- no way!

I know there are a lot of cute styles in cami/bras out there, too. You might try transitioning into these now - before summer.

If she finds the bra horribly uncomfortable (I do!), try gradually increasing how long she has to wear it. Work up to a full day. Allow her 'off time' from the bra at home.

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Uuuugggghhh, Boobs! I hate a bra and mine comes off the moment I get home. I don't even bother with cami's. I agree with the rest of the ladies with the sports bras. Definitely don't make a huge deal or force her into an "over the shoulder boulder holder." I remember myself at that age, I was a major tomboy and I hated the thing. No sports bras in my day.

3 moms found this helpful

Sounds like she has made a compromise for the moment.. The good thing is that once she does wear a bra, she can wear a sports bra. Many girls her age and as active as she is wear them all of the time. Take her to Academy or a sports store so she will feel more at home, than a "girlie" store.

She will have to wear a bra as soon as her nipples become sensitive. It only takes one day of being chafed by her clothes or ill fitting swimsuit to realize, why we have to wear bras or swim suit tops.. The other thing is that if you notice her nipples through her shirt. Try to take a photo and show it to her, she will also want to be covered up.

3 moms found this helpful

Oh, boy, the memories! I remember my mother giving me my first bra before I turned 10. It was in the middle of the school year, fourth grade, and I was so embarrassed to have to go to school after the weekend with the kids teasing me. It came out of the blue--on Saturday morning, she just told me that I had to wear it from now on, and I was wearing cute thin T-shirts that allowed everyone to see that I was now wearing a bra. I already didn't like the changes in my body--the attention that they brought--and I had to adjust to them under the microscope of my classmates and family members. I wanted to be a boy, and that just really hurt my feelings.

I think that with it being so close to the summer, you should let her get away with an undershirt or two under her school uniform...as long as no one can see anything. Then, she can spend the summer getting comfortable wearing it, getting comfortable with this new development. By the time she goes back to school, she'll be used to it and more comfortable in her new skin.

I can still be pretty boyish, but I am such a girl, now. My husband has a hard time believing that I wasn't always prissy.

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My daughter is 13 and loves her sports bra's and has been wearing them since about age 11. It was only this year that she asked for a regular bra but she still wears her sports bra most of the time.

L.

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I have read your previous reaponses and if she is as much the tomboy as you claim i think making a big deal out of it is going to put her off in a huge way and make this much more difficult. I agree wholeheartedly with Laurie though that sports bra's are the way to go with this child for the time being. It's a compromise betweeen a t-shirt and a full on bra, it's very comfortable for your pre-teen and not very girly in the least. Plus many of them can be worn as tops or as peek-a-boo tops under a button up...She may find this much more comforting..

As far as the swimsuit is concerned...there are so many styles out there that once you take her looking she may find that she is okay with one. Explain to her that there are styles out there that incorporate boy type shorts and shirt type looks as well as the traditional tanks and bikinis she is used to seeing. You may find her more receptive if you tell her she can find something more to her personal style...

Good Luck... ;-)

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Since she's a tomboy, how about a sports bra? I found them far more comfortable than training bras. I would also, maybe around 13 or so, take her to a real lingerie shop where they can teach her how to properly figure out her size as she grows. One of the biggest problems with bra discomfort is that many of us were never taught proper sizing and fit.

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I would say that as soon as she starts to have real breast development, or they're showing through her shirts that it would be time to at least introduce a camisole or sports bra. As far as swimsuits go many female surfers wear bikinis with a skingaurd type shirt. That may be a style that appeals to her. She may also prefer to wear a speedo style swim suit maybe with a pair of boardshorts. I would buy her a magazine that shows some of these styles. But other than that I would comprimise with her and just wait till May when they get out of school. This would be a good time to start ongoing conversations about what her body is currently going through and will go through, and why we all do. Best of luck I know this can be a trying time.

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L. -
I have a 12 yr. old, who developed WAY before the other girls. We started with sports bra! It was simple and she now is fighting me to wear the "normal" bra...because she loves the comfort of sport bras. Some have support and some are just enough! This may be a great start for her!
Good Luck!
And....I bought the book "The care of keeping YOU" by American Girl at Barnes/Noble summer before Jr. High.
She hated it...but BOY do I see her reading it! It is a great book for girls to read about their bodies, without having to ask Mom everything! No worries...sex is not in it..that's another series! The joy of motherhood.

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I developed early and remember going through this. I knew I should be wearing one, but doing that meant acknowledging my breasts were different and I was different. My mom didn't make a big deal out of it and I came to terms with it over and started wearing one within 8 months. If you are concerned about support, don't be. At this age, for this little amount of time, her breasts will be fine. If you are worried about the boys...don't be. A bra won't make any difference to them, breasts are breasts. Let your daughter come to terms with this huge change in her own time. I promise as soon as she comes to view her breasts as a positive she will be more then happy to wear a bra. Right now, the best you can do for her to is be as supportive as possible about how beautiful she is and that even thought her body is changing, she is still your little girl. I remember really wanting my mom and dad to say that to me because I felt like when I got my period and grew breasts, I wasn't their baby anymore. My parents knew just how to reassure me, and we got through the transition together.

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I don't know what it is with daughters and mothers, but I already see these little struggles starting with my seven year old -- me wanting her to cut her hair, her not wanting to, me caring desperately if she doesn't keep her hair brushed, hating it if she wears something I think looks bad. But my own struggles with my mother were SO BAD I doubt I will ever forget them, and it is from the standpoint of the daughter in this that I write -- let your daughter figure out what she wants to do about starting to develop -- if you push her, unfortunately you are unlikely to get what you want and it will not help her feel good about these changes because she doesn't own them - you do! In my case I wanted to wear a bra when I probably had nothing to justify wearing one, and my mother was against it, wouldn't let me. Then when I was older there were some clothes I loved that didn't allow for a bra, and I got into top-of-my-voice arguments with my mother about that, and wound up iestablishing my values with a new guy I was seeing on a first date by taking off a bra I'd been forced to put on under my favorite shirt (it looked bizarre and totally inappropriate, in his car, the second we were out of the driveway. Not, I am sure, the kind of thing you want to be going on. Let her find her way -- bodies changing is weird enough without suddenly having parents acting angry and worried just because you don't want things to be changing yet. Since she's athletic, I bet it won't be long until she disocvers the practical benefits of the sports bra. But if you make it a bone of contention, not only will it take longer and possibly lead to kinds of out-of-sight resistance you do NOT want to be encouraging, but it will generally give her confused messages about who her body belongs to, or at least it did me. One I was out of my mother's house I went braless for years, sonetimes very inappropriately, until I finally figured out why *I* needed to be wearing a bra -- that it was something that protected ME from unwanted attention and kept ME comfortable. But I strongly believe that if my mother had just supported me, shared her own policies (when did she start wearing a bra, why where one, what does she do with clothes that don't allow for a bra, etc.) in a non-intense way, and let me find my own way, I'd have been wearing a bra proudly since I was 12. Her turning it into a struggle over who owned my body and sexuality left me in doubt about that into my 20s, and dressing inappropriately to PROVE my body was mine.

Hopefully your daughter won't be the bundle of hurt, defensive willfulness that I was in my teens and twenties, but I figure it's worth knowing how badly things can go when a mother decides that its her way or the highway. Your daughter sounds great, and she's agreed to start in the summer, which is in a month. Wait, bite you tongue, focus on everything that is right about her, including her body, and when you do give her a couple sports bras once the summer has started, try to be loving and positive. Fine, of course, to set limits about her not swimming in kiddy clothes when she's becoming a young woman, but again, avoid the drama. Say as little as possible, and assume compliance -- when she wants to go swimming in the summer, since you've already made the boundary, lovingly give her her new, simple tank swim suit and say "I'll go change and meet you in the living room!" Try not to make it a battle, try not to make the swim suit or the bra represent defeat. It's so important for our daughters NOT to see growing into womanhood as a loss of power, of having to conform to new forms of submisison, a narrowing of their alternatives.

All best wishes!
M.

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What about a sports bra. I have been wearing them since I first got pregnant and find them to be the most comfortable.

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My daughter was the opposite but one of her best friends is a total tomboy. She plays a ton of sports. The one thing that finally worked for her was reminding her that she is an athlete and female athletes wear sports bras...all of them all of the time. So give her that info perhaps and give her a sports bra. Have her know that female swimmers wear swimsuits, not boy shirts, in professional sports events. Also remind her that her guy friends have to wear special items in sports, so it is not like they would even think about her wearing something special for herself. Hope this helps!

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sports bra, very tomboy & give the extra coverage. Don't stress on it. Things like this usually work itself out. If this is the worst battle you have...wow what a blessing. Good luck and God bless.

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Your daughter sounds like my niece. She just DID NOT want to be different from her friends. I bought her several, very colorful sports bras from Gap body with t-strap backs, and she loved them. She could also wear them in the summer with/without tank tops. I convinced her that because she was a tom boy and would like to keep playing sports without being self conscious, she should wear her sports bras. Now she is 14 and still prefers sports bras. Good luck.

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I just wanted to chime in that I like sports bras too. I'm a super-duper girlie girl, but comfort rules and if I can wear a sports bra instead of an underwire, I wear it!

I know when I was growing up, none of us wore bras until middle school when we had to dress out for P.E. Then it was wear a bra or be taunted to death.

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maybe you could try gettng her to wear a sports bra. If she like being a little tomboyish then you can realate it to girls that are athletes wear these. worth a shot?

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What about a sports bra?

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I got some of this denial too from a developing 11-12 year old. She ended up liking the sport type bras for a couple of years. They minimize the look of breasts, which she liked then. She gradually started wearing regular bras. You can find these sporty ones at Target.
Land's End makes nice comfortable tankinis for girls and women. Not bikinis you find elsewhere, but not "granny" styles either. Have her look at the catalog with you.

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I agree with many of the previous posts, but wanted to add something not mentioned: peer pressure.
At 11 it may not be a big deal yet, but I'm sure once next school year starts many more of her girl friends will be wearing something (bra, sports bra, cami) and she'll be the "odd girl". At our elementary many of the 4th graders start asking about when they can wear big girl stuff because they see older sisters/friends start in 5th grade. Yes, it's a little unnerving to think about as a Mom!
And with all the cute bathing suit styles available - even 5 year olds wear them! - I'm sure she will warm up to a "girly" suit even this summer. Do you go to a public pool? I'm sure all the other girls there won't be wearing boy suits! Let her pick out a neutral suit - not too girly - and pay the exorbitant price tag. It will be worth it.
This is a time peer pressure can be used in a positive way to get that change in her mind. Just keep it positive (no negative comments on her body, image, etc) and she'll come around.
Sports bras rock!

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If she refuses to wear a bra, why don't you try sport bras. They are comfortable and maybe she'll like the fact that all athletes wear them.

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will she wear one of those work-out type shirts or camisole that has a built in bra? Maybe that can be a sort of compromise....

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Well the previuos posters took my ideas...
a camitank ( my daughter had some from limited 2 now Justice and now some from Gap)
a sportsbra/ My 12 yr old also likes some I picked up at Walmart / They are made by hanes or fruit of the loom and they are just cotton w/straps .no underwire or anything hard. They are in the womens loungerie9 SP?)section and are cheap in cost.
Good Luck

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just from personal experience i would start with a sports bra...when i had to wear one i did not like the regular bras! sports bras are way more comfortable!!

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They make tank tops with support built in. The surfer shirts for girls are like those for boys just not so manly. She might be embarrassed or being teased if she starts wearing a bra or the boys snap the bra remember those days? Dont be shocked its just what kids do. She is probably waiting for summer to get use to it and learn to be comfortable before some one attacks her for wearing one. Good luck...dont force her and try to let her have her own style. I dont think wearing a swim suit under the surfer shirt is nessissary.

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It very much saddens me to hear moms talk about "making" their daughters do things like wearing a bra, cutting their hair, etc. These are things that should be individual choices. Please keep in mind that your daughter is an individual person that deserve respect and the opportunity to make their own choices regarding their individuality. Yes, of course, they need guidance, but perhaps the way you are approaching these situations are the real issues here. By making statements like "you absolutely must wear a swimsuit underneath the swim shirt" or "you must wear a bra or you cannot leave the house" YOU are actually creating power struggles. No one likes to be told that they don't have a choice in a matter. Instead you should approach these issues as a discussion...an open 2-sided discussion. I think you will see a huge difference in your relationship with your daughter if you stop telling her what you're going to force her to do, but instead empower her to make the choice herself based on information you share with her.

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Maybe start with some fitted undershirts or sports bra. Both are much less girly and should at least help some.

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I have a 12 year old who just went throught this! She hates wearing those things!! But you know, who reatlly likes them? The only suggestions I can think of are to start her off in a sports bra - they give support where its needed but arent't quite so "binding". and may seem a little less like a bra for her. When you think she is ready for the "real bra" try making aday of it - take her to the store and let her pick out what she would be comfortable with or in. Sometimes when I have let my daughter be part of the decision making process on this like this she feels a little differently about it. Good luck!!

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Sounds to me like she needs a sports bra. hype it up as a piece of sporting equipment that all young female athletes must use not as a bra . . . and make sure to keep all signs of lace and bows far far away for now.

I agree with the bathing suit under the tee shirt (maybe a "racing style" one-piece will be a good compromise) but otherwise unless there is a need (bouncing, sagging, showing through shirts, etc) I personally wouldn't push the bra too hard yet.

Good luck and beware . . . one day the tomboy will be asking for a $500 prom dress for the big date!

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I think if you think she is developed enough to be asking if she should were a bra then she should wear a bra. When my 10 year old "needed" a bra I took her to Target (ONLY HER AND I WENT) and I let her pick them out, she decided that she wanted to start with the sports bra type, no hooks. and she has been doing well with those. Of course she is a TOTAL girl totally opposite of me as a child. Hope this helps.

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I would start off with a sport bra because it fits more like a tight undershirt. That will get her used to having something on. Then work up to a regular bra as she develops more. Summer is almost here. I think it is probably no big deal that she wear an undershirt until the end of the year. She is probably afraid of the ridicule from other classmates. Plus the boys may be pulling bra straps.

I'd just buy her either a training bra or a sports bra (maybe both?) and tell her just like you have to wear underwear under your pants, you have to wear a bra under your shirt once your breasts start developing. She is probably just embarrassed and possibly confused about changes her body is going through. I would tell her either she can go to the store and pick it out with you or you will just buy it for her and she will have to wear whatever you buy. Encourage her to go with you so she can try different ones on to figure out what style she likes and is most comfortable for her.
They also have women's swim shirts, usually at sporting goods stores. They have the needed support for women but are the same type of style =)
Make sure you have an open dialogue about the changes she is going through and honestly answer any questions she has so she knows she can come to you with concerns. Now might be a good time to buy a book for her that is geared towards girls going through puberty. Most times, a tween will soak up more information from a book vs. listening to their parent =)

I know exactly how you feel. I went through the same thing with my 10 yr old tomboy. She liked the idea of growing up but rebelled against the sports bras saying they're too "itchy". Like you I compromised and agreed she can wear an undershirt under her uniform. It looks the same as if she was wearing a sports bra. However, I did gently remind her over a period of a few months that she will eventually need to wear a bra when she wore her regular clothes and her "buds" started pokin' out(I made it a joke). I only had to bring it to her attention once. She's now wearing her sports bra and declared they were comfortable. Eureka!

My point - have faith. She'll see the light.

I think it's time for a mom and daughter outing! Take her to lunch, go shopping for bras and swimsuits, maybe her first razor to start shaving, go get a manicure, and any other things to welcome her into becoming a women. I know when I was about this age my mom took me to a class that was held at a local hospital that shared the information of puberty and explained all the changes happening. Maybe something like that would be helpful. I think just making it feel important and special and getting some one on one time with her will help make this transition easier. Hope this helps.. Good luck!

I had the same problem with my girl. I got her the thick girls Tank T's by Fruit of The Loom. I then bought several types of bras and had her try them on and figure out which one or ones were more comfortable. I did not give her a choice on whether she wore one or not. Only on the type she wore. It came on gradually and she finally conceded. I explained that people could see her breasts through her clothing and she did not want that. I explained that the bra was designed to cover the breast so people would not see it. I also let her know that soon the boys would start calling attention to her in their own cruel way and the only way to stop it is to protect your body. The tank t's were the start and then moved to the comfortable cotton stretch bra kinda like a sports bra and so on. Also I made a point of we were or she was not leaving the house without it on.
Hope this helps. Jill

I was a huge tomboy at your daughter's age too. My poor mom had this same struggle. What worked for me was wearing a sports bra. It was comfy for me and since it was geared towards sports it appealed to me. I wore it to school, even church. But it supported me and made my mom comfortable. I didn't switch to a real bra until I was 13. I hope you can find something that she will agree to. Good luck!

Hi L.,

I have 3 daughters, 20, 11 and 8. THey are all wearing bras. I personally can see the areola on my little girl so I went out and bought her the sports type bras in the little girl area. My 11 year old is already a 36A. She wears sports bras and the regular one with no padding. I don't like the padded ones because it makes them look bigger than what they are. Does your daughter not see that she is showing? I had to have mine stand in the mirror so I could point out what I saw and she was like oh now I can see why I should wear one. Plus the 11 year old do move around she cannot leave the house without one.
Good Luck!
A. R

It's probably time for her to have a pre-teen physical anyway, so have the Dr.(or nurse) explain then the importance to her physical development that her breasts have the support of a bra. If you can't afford a Dr. visit just now, make an appointment with the school nurse and have her explain it to her. You say she's a "tomboy", maybe she just wants to be "one of the boys" and is afraid they will tease her if she starts wearing a bra. Teach her how to turn a tease around, but get her in a bra.

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