Buying your daughter her first bra: Mum finds bra in children's section sold to hide 'imperfections'

Buying your daughter her first bra is getting harder.
Buying your daughter her first bra is getting harder. Photo: Getty Images

Many girls look forward to their first bra with feverish anticipation but the experience isn't always a positive one. In fact, given the prevalence of angst and body image issues in teens and tweens the issue of bras can be a bit of a minefield.

A French mother, Florence Braud, claims that manufacturers are adding to the fraught issue with inappropriate marketing.

Braud was appalled when she saw a girls' bra from DIM Paris that boasted it could tackle "imperfections." The label also said that the bra was ideal as a first bra because of its removable filling.

The horrified mum took to twitter to complain about the bra.  

"Erase imperfections and provides smooth shape – for a bra in the children's department."

She also used the hash tag #LeCulLesRonces which comes from a French idiom and means 'we're really not done with this shit.'

Speaking to Buzzfeed News, Braud said that the word 'imperfections' had irritated her. "It saddened me to see that, so soon, she was already suffering the threats [of] femininity," she said.

The bra company have since explained that they didn't mean 'imperfections' to be interpreted as a physical imperfection about the girls' breasts that needed to be corrected. Rather, they meant that the bra would hide 'imperfect' creases in fabric that might spoil the look of a tee-shirt.

However, not many twitter uses were buying it and accused DIM Paris of body shaming. Either way, the incident has highlighted an uncomfortable truth about bra shopping – it's getting harder.

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I was an early developer and started wearing a bra around the age of ten. My first bra was very plain and boring. But it did the job, and gave me some support in my flimsy summer uniform.  

But my initial delight at owning my first bra soon gave way to angst. Rather than being the envy of my flatter chested friends I became the butt of their jokes. They teased me relentlessly and made a game of 'pinging' my bra straps.

Some mornings I "forgot" to put my bra on, thinking that I could avoid the teasing. But going bra-less just drew even more attention my way. I was in a no-win situation.

Eventually the other girls developed and got bras of their own. By the time we were all in high school it was the girls that didn't have bras that got picked on.

Now that I have daughters of my own I worry about how I can navigate this tricky rite of passage with them. I spoke to psychologist Karen Phillip to discuss the issue.

She tells me that shopping for a girls' first bra can be fraught with difficulty. "It is the first step for a girl becoming a young woman. She is often slightly embarrassed about her changing body and a bra is a major step for a child," she explains.

So what can parents do to make the process easier? Philip suggests treading carefully. "Suggest to your daughter she may soon need a bra and wait for her to agree," she explains.

Phillip says that when you are at the shop it's best to let your daughter pick a style and colour and try some different sizes in the fitting rooms. "I wouldn't have her professionally fitted at first, wait until she has fully developed before a stranger starts touching her in areas she may feel embarrassed about," says Philip.

Of course, for some girls, bra shopping is fun and exciting. But that doesn't mean it will be easy for their mums as child psychologist Clare Rowe notes. "It is a big deal for parents!" she says.

"It signifies that their child is growing up, and often mums want to make it into a memorable occasion," explains Rowe.

Hopefully, when my girls are at the bra stage we will be able to find some elasticated middle ground together.