Tuesday, October 6, 2009

when in doubt, write about in on your blog

Last night I got an email from a dear friend. She has two adorable girls (one nearing teenagehood at a frightening pace, the other not far behind). We like to compare notes. I have recent enough experience with the baby and toddler set to remind her what she's missing (and also what she is most certainly NOT) and she tells me all the simultaneously awesome and horrific things I have to look forward to in the coming years.

Last night's email was a charmer, in that she asked me about my first bra. (Dudes --as in THE FELLAS--, if you're reading --- just stop now, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Just come back tomorrow and pretend that you never even considered reading about the First Bra Experience.) Now that it's just us ladies here, let's talk Bra Particulars. My friend wanted to know what my experience was like because she's contemplating the undertaking with her daughter, obviously.

This is what she wrote (she's wicked funny):
What do you remember about getting your first bra? I'm debating about whether this needs to be a big deal (special mom-daughter shopping trip; going to the teen section at Macy's; high tea for lunch, etc.) or to make it not a big deal (go to kid underwear section at Target after perusing the paper towel aisle). I don't think I had a ceremony. A near-mint hand-me-down bra from my cousin magically materialized in my underwear drawer. A couple of months later, more bras appeared. I didn't really care-- although it would have been nice to pick some out myself.

It's funny how I can talk about this now, when I'm a nice ripe thirty-five-year-old and don't feel like it's so close as to be EMBARRASSING anymore. Like I don't think I could have told you about this when I was in high school, even. Anyway. My mom took me to JC Penny, I think. And we talked to a very embarrassing saleslady who wore those little half-rimmed glasses on a chain and pursed her lips when she was thinking. The saleslady sized me up (and she did, she just sort of LOOKED at my chest and then wandered away to grab some possible bras). I wanted to die. Melt into the floor and disappear COMPLETELY. I was just so freakishly undone about the entire experience. I knew I needed a bra, I guess. And part of me wanted a bra, right? But I also wanted to just sort of wander around the department VERY FAR AWAY from both my mother and the half-rimmed spectacle saleslady COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT from anything they were sort of doing. Over there. Away from ME. I wanted them to do the work, with my mom buying the bra, and then we'd rendezvous back at the car and she'd hand me the bag. Or something. Of course, that didn't happen. I was right in the thick of it, standing there in the department as other people walked by. So there was the sizing up, and then the lady comes back with a little selection of possible bras and my mom takes me into the fitting room (OH THE HORROR). AND I HAD TO TRY THEM ON. WITH MY MOM IN THE FITTING ROOM. (This is the kind of thing that you just have to write in ALL CAPS, you know?) I ended up with a couple of bras, I think. I have no idea what we did after. I don't think there was lunch. Certainly no high tea. There might have been a Slurpy, though. When we went home I wanted to DIE ALL OVER AGAIN when mom had me bring out the bras to show my sister. DIE! DIE DIE DIE! (Now. Remember, my mom reads my blog, so I'm going to say this to her but also to all of you: my mom was wonderful to do this. I was a CRANKY pre-teen. She was really sweet about the entire thing. And quite frankly, I don't think I'd have the experience any other way. Kisses to Mama Whimsy!)

Here's my caveat to my friend: I don't think there's any ONE right way to do this whole First Bra thing. For some kids, they really revel in the experience, the rite of passage. Others are just happy to find a little surprise in their underwear drawer. So I think it is important to hone the experience to the girl's temperament.

Here's where y'all come in: share your story and the details. Was it a good experience? Horrible? What would you tell a mom who is staring into the Vast Deadly Maw of First Bra-dom?


Amanda said...

I have no memory whatsoever of obtaining my first bra. None. There's a total blank. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember a thing either. I don't know if it was so traumatic I blocked it out or it was a total non-event.

Eleanor Q. said...

I have to jump in because it was so awkward and so embarassing and so something I never want to have to do again. Here's the story: I wanted a bra. Every other girl in my class had one, I did not. I came to my mother after months of agonizing how to broach the subject and said "I think you should take me bra shopping" and she looked at me, did a once over and said (here's the part that kills me) "I don't think you need one." Could you jsut die!? A few weeks later she finally caved and we went to some store (probably a macy's type place though I don't recall) and she got me a sports bra trainer. There was no pomp or circumstance. No high tea. Just totall embarassment. It was probably better that way.

I think for your friend, it depends on her daughter. Would she like a high tea? Do they like to do mom/daughter things together? I would vote for the embarassing shopping trip. Everyone needs a good story for later in life.

Alice said...

hah, mine was the total opposite: my mom came home with a training bra one day, because i was SO OLD (like 14!) and STILL hadn't produced any boobage whatsoever, so she basically said "uh, you should need this by now" except i'm sure in a much more compassionate way, but all *i* remember is DYING OF TEEN ANGST because OH MY GOD even my MOM IS SAYING I HAVE NO BOOBS, LIKE I DON'T GET ENOUGH TEASING ABOUT THAT AT SCHOOL ALREADY!? heh. so yeah.. there is no right way to do it, i guess :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh what a fun subject.

I remember my mom not giving me a bra early enough. She made me wear this stupid undershirt things that were basically a camisole and for some reason I HATED them with all my heart. She would check me in the morning to see if the strap was there under my shirt. As soon as I got to school I always went in the bathroom and took the stupid things off.

Looking back, I'm sure she was trying to help hide the big ass mosquito bites that were showing, but I grew boobs at 10 or 11 and she should have accepted this. I think she was having a hard time with the baby of the family growing up, and with how ridiculously young I grew up.

When we finally did go to get a bra, it was unspecial because she kept saying stuff like "well, when your sister and I did this..." I had to be "sized" which was super embarrassing, and they did it without my shirt on, so...borderline pedophilia with the store clerk apparently (I didn't know you could keep your shirt on til I got sized for a nursing bra a few months ago, I had adamantly refused bra fittings up til then). Mom also wanted to come into the dressing room and I wouldn't allow it. I got one of those underwireless, shapeless monstrocities and kept up the embarrassed front while on the inside I was cheering that I was a woman.

I think what I would have preferred was mom teaching me how to do a fitting on myself at home, giving me a measuring tape, letting me measure in private (I already had weight issues at 10), and then going to the store to get that size. I would want no clerks involved, mom would stay outside of the room, and then take me out for a cheesy celebratory "you're a woman!" lunch that I would have outwardly been embarrassed about, but inwardly loved. I wanted it to be special, but I didn't want to show it.

Anonymous said...

you want awkward.....i was 12, my DAD took me to buy my first bra!

Anonymous said...

so glad to hear others have no recollection of this life-altering experience, because I, too, am drawing an absolute blank. K8

Erin P said...

It's weird; I don't have any recollection of actually getting the bra, but I remember my mother being totally awkward about it, and me wanting to get a bra (everyone else had one), but not wanting to bring it up, and her not wanting to talk about it at all...aghh, pre-teen (or maybe teen, I was probably 13, which would have been the very early 80's) angst!

wandering nana said...

I honestly don't remember but I remember taking my girls... I got several, handed to them to try on (I didn't go in the dressing room) when they were ready I would go in and check out if it fit. We would buy the ones that fit and then go home. I also remember that at least one of them was embarrassed to wear them so she would wear t-shirts under her blouse. I thought this was so funny but didn't let her know that.
We went with our youth group on a jeeping trip to Moab... The Mr went with us along with other male leaders. We set up tents and we and our neighbor couple set our tents up by one of the tents with young women... as we laid there we could hear a conversation about BRA's (little did these girls realize at the time, that there were 2 men who could hear this). We listened as we heard the words, 'lift and separate' and lace and padded and what was you favorite color. After a while the girls became quiet.... at which time our neighbor (the other Mark) suddenly stated that "I prefer the lift and separate bra to all the others." Suddenly there was a scream and "Oh, no". We all laughed until we were sick... needless to say, the next morning the girls turned bright red whenever they looked at the Mr or the other Mark.

Swistle said...

I didn't want a bra; I wanted to continue wearing my rosebud tanktop undershirts. My mom said I HAD to. There were handmedowns from a cousin. Soon after, there was an embarrassing shopping trip where my mom thought I was going to want her to help me in the dressing room. (I did not even want her IN THE STORE.) Buying embarrassing and necessary underthings: not really a Glorious Transition Into Womanhood moment for me.

Sara Hammond said...

As for me, I don't remember much. But my sister - I think this is funny. She is the third girl, but sandwiched between brothers (two older, two younger). When she got her first bra, she walked shirtless around the house to show it off! Our brothers were not terribly impressed, and I think were very embarrassed.

angelalois said...

hey! you got some decent comments! what's with saying no one remembers? It was mortified. I think I asked my mom about it and she laughed at me... as if it wasn't awkward enough for me, it was awkward for her, and we deal with things with humor in our home. So we bought one, and it was hideous, and I stopped wearing it. Then my aunt ended up taking me and saved the day. It was still mortifying. I didn't want to grow up. Still don't. Dang years, keep piling.

Alicia @ bethsix said...

I'm pretty sure my mom decided to take me shopping for one because I had a slumber party, and she noticed that other girls were wearing them. There was NO WAY NO HOW I was ever asking for anything like this, so that was pretty lucky for me, I guess.

When I got it, I wanted it, but I didn't need it. (Strange. I'd give anything not to HAVE to wear one now.) At the time, I didn't even know what they were for, really. I distinctly remember having the conversation about the purpose of the bra at that same slumber party. We all speculated it was to cover nipples. I didn't get it.


The first purchasing experience was much like yours, Whimsy. I think we went to Sears or JC Penney or something. A saleslady was involved (older and probably bespectacled like yours). I wanted the bra, but I wanted NOTHING to do with buying one or being anywhere near the bra department, my mother in the bra department, the bespectacled lady... Oh my god, the humiliation.

You want to hear THE most mortifying story I've ever heard, though? A coworker of mine has a daughter that's about to be 12... She told me a few months back that her daughter is "getting her little (ahem) hairs." And I was like, "OH DEAR HOLY LORD GOD, HOWWWWWW DO YOU KNOW THAT?!" and she was all, "I made her show me."

CAN YOU IMAGINE THIS?! I cannot imagine it from either the mother's or daughter's perspective. The eyes, the bleach, it burns.

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