Monday, January 07, 2008

Shopping for a Trading Bra

Ruby and I bought her first training bra. (She initially asked for a "trading" bra and I very insensitively burst out laughing and asked if she was going to trade bras with her friends. She thought it was funny, too, so I was forgiven.) Although Ruby is only 8 1/2 years old, she is definitely starting down the road to puberty. She would be mortified if she knew I laid out specific evidence of her prepubescent status, so we'll just say she needs a shower every day and even if she had short hair and wore boy clothes, you'd probably be able to tell she's a girl.

Ruby recently learned that a friend of hers got a "trading" bra and decided she was ready, too. Since I DISTINCTLY remember my mother telling me I needed to stay in an undershirt when I told her that all the other girls were wearing bras in 7th grade and I was embarrassed when we changed for gym, I decided to say ok. And, she was already wearing undershirts to make sure she wasn't revealing anything she shouldn't in t-shirts and thin blouses.

So off to Walmart we went. I was appalled at the selection. Although we visited the GIRLS department (NOT women's lingerie), there were padded, underwire bras. Teeny, tiny, padded, demi-cup, underwire bras that would presumably accentuate prepubescent breasts in a t-shirts. EWWW. Who makes these? Who lets there girls who are size 4-12 in the GIRLS department wear these bras?

Since one of these padded bras had Hello Kitty or some other anime character featured prominently on both quadruple A cups, Ruby, of course zeroed in on that one. I said, "no" and gave her a choice between several different sports bra type options--some solid color and some with a print. She whined a bit and kept picking various padded bra versions. I held firm and then she asked "why not?" I told her what I always tell her when she wants to wear something that I deem too grown up. I said, "Because it's too grow- up looking and you are a little girl. There are bad people in the world who like little girls to look like grown-up women. If you wear these grown-up clothes, these bad people will like you and may want to hurt you. I want you to wear girl clothes until you are a woman."

"No sir!," Ruby whined. "You just don't want me to have what I want!" We were now attracting stares from other moms and daughters. I wasn't sure if they were feeling sympathy for Ruby or for me.

"Why wouldn't I want you to have it?" I asked Ruby. "Why would I lie?" She didn't have an answer but continued to whine anyway. And then, I pulled out the mean mommy threats, tainting what was supposed to be this special mother-daughter shopping trip.

"You have a choice," I said, through gritted teach. "Pick one of the ones I showed you or we will walk out of this store with no bra!" Ruby snatched a set of three much more age-appropriate sports bras in red, black, and white and flung it into the carriage. Mean mommy returned when Ruby asked to buy chips on the way out and I snapped, "We came for a bra, not junk food!"

The next day, however, when she donned the bra under her t-shirt, she kept staring at herself in the mirror and rubbing her hands over her nearly flat but not-quite chest. She was grinning ear to ear, obviously recovered from the trauma of her mean mommy not letting her buy her undergarments of choice. "Feel it!" she invited excitedly.

"No thanks, Ruby," I answered and then made her swear that she would not ask anyone else to feel her bra and that she would, under no circumstances, lift up her shirt to show anyone either.

"Why would I ever do that??" Ruby asked incredulously, looking at me as if I had just suggested she wear her pajamas to the prom or poop in public.

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