The Mom Nagging Machine

There was a time when ‘back to school’ meant nothing more than a new backpack and some crayons.

Today my daughter and I looked, and bought, some ‘undershirts’ as opposed to ‘training bras’ because she has reached that age where she needs to wear something under her sundresses and under her white t-shirts.

Her brother, blushing, rolled his eyes and turned around to try to ‘unsee’ the girl things we needed to accomplish while at the store. Being the pain I am, I explained to him this was a great learning experience about women and he needed to understand that his sister was growing up and she couldn’t be flashing the top half of her body to strangers.

Which always turns into silly time

After doing his best to squirm and avert his eyes from the display of training bras and bras for tweens, he actually agreed…

Well, boys look at those things. Yes Mom, I know, girls look too…you’re right, she needs to make sure she’s covered.

Hmmm…wait, Did he just call breasts ‘those things?’ And was this the message I wanted to send? That the women of the family had to cover themselves in order to be proper?

I stopped myself as we looked at undershirts and talked to them both as they again rolled their eyes and leaned against the cart.

It’s not that we want her to cover herself. We know being naked isn’t a big deal. And she’s beautiful. It’s just that in our society there are some people who will try to look at her inappropriately, just like we talk about private areas and who can see them and touch them…

Oh man, now I’m getting way off track. This is hard.

…and we’re just making sure her privates are covered as she wears certain things, that’s all.

This parenting stuff is ridiculous. I’m flunking this. Please God let this moment go away forever because right now it seems like nothing I say is right, or coming out right…or what I’m trying to convey. I’m just trying to buy her a few more undershirts, THAT IS ALL.

Then I glance up at the display in front of us. I hadn’t really studied it until now. Bras, training bras, what look like sports bras, undershirts. And then…what I swear to God are PADDED BRAS FOR LITTLE GIRLS.

My daughter is handing this like a champ.

Mom I already have that white one at home, so how about these pink and purple fun ones that are like half undershirts… and let’s go.


My son can’t get out of there quick enough and leads us to semi-safety where we have to then pick out underwear. This seems like nothing compared to bra-hell.

But I can’t keep my mind from going back to what I am pretty sure I just saw. Padded bras.

The Judy Blume years of my life come rushing back.

I was never in need of KLeenex. I developed well before any of the other girls and I had plenty to go around. A blessing and a curse for a young girl. The boys ogled and feared me. The girls hated me. All because I had big boobs.

My daughter isn’t built anything like I was at that age. But with any hope she’ll be able to talk to me about body image issues she may come across and we can giggle over the difference of being one of the girls who could give herself a black eye in gym class or one of the girls who was flat as a pancake.

I want, so badly, to ask the kids if they saw the bras hanging there. What they thought about them. But I know the agony this will cause my son, who is working through his prepubescent feelings. And I know it will only cause my daughter to think about it MORE, and her body MORE…which I don’t really want her to do just yet.

Not because she shouldn’t explore what’s going on with her body, or question why she needs to cover her nipples or any of those things…but because there is so so so much time in a woman’s life to worry about what we look like. To think about our breasts, our noses, our asses. If I bring up the padded bras, that just gets her thinking about it all. And I really don’t want her going down that road. Especially when I seem so ill prepared to discuss and help her young mind through all the bullshit.

Sigh. I just wanted to buy some crayons. A pack or two of pencils.

Instead I feel like I had this perfect opportunity in front of me to teach both of my kids about respect, beauty, and body image…and I stumbled and stammered and wished one of my son’s inventions had become a reality.

He has this idea for a hook up between our brains, so I can automatically give him all my knowledge and he doesn’t have to listen to me explain or make guesses when I can’t seem to phrase things in a way he can grasp.

I think the idea actually came out of Mom Nagging, but whatever. I’d take it right now.

I’d even wear a padded bra on my head ala Weird Science. Although, there is no way my very embarrassed son would.

We might have to give that invention a few more years.


  1. I feel you. I have 2 daughters and 2 sons. Teens & tweens.

    Oh you are at the pre-training bra stage. Wait until you gotta get the training bra…EVERY FUCKING LITTLE GIRL BRA IS PADDED! I had to look like the devil to find some without padding. When I first encountered them I thought it was a joke, but everywhere we went there they were. The sexual brainwashing of young young girls is sickening.

    …wait until you gotta deal with “THE PERIOD” Such joy 🙂

  2. Carolyn Lawson says:

    my guess – you probably didn’t need to say much – they’ve already learned so much from you by observation and osmosis. My daughter is navigating the early teens/middle school years now – and while I wish I could do the brain swap thing – the fact that she and I laughed so hard we cried about Over-the-Shoulder-Boulder-Holders at Target makes me think I’m doing something right. Although her brother turned on his heel and bolted to sporting goods… I think that’s just what brothers do.

  3. I have 3 daughters. Twins who are almost 7, and a new baby. I have seen the padded bras you speak of in the store. It’s horrifying. Reminds me of the padded bikini tops that caused such outrage—was that Abercrombie or something? Can’t remember now.
    I don’t know what I’ll say to them. I hope i still have time. I was flat as a board. Assuming they will be too, but you never know…

    It sounds like you did fine. And there’s still time for discussion.

  4. My daughter is 11 1/2, and as her pediatrician said “slowly developing”, she has many friends who are much further along than her. One good piece of advice that has helped her was getting the book “The Care and Keeping of You”. I cringed when I saw it was part o fthe American Girl books, but it has been really helpful and she picks it up and reads it often. I think we got it for her when she was 8, as a suggestion from our Dr.

    My 7 1/2 year old son, sneaks away bra catalogs that come in the mail if I don’t get to recycling them first!!! Let me say, that has been a fun conversation…. “those aren’t typical women’s bodies, etc…”

    Motherhood in the New Millenium??? Is it really any different than for our mothers??

  5. You are absolutely NOT flunking this. This shit is HARD. It’s hard to find the right words, hard to say them at the right time, just all around hard. But. We keep trying. They are listening; we just have to keep going in. My oldest is 11. She has more of “those things” than me, who at 38, is sporting a whopping -34AAAA. Really, Mother Nature? You have some sense of humor. Bitch. Anyway, I remember being disgusted to the point I wrote to Target because of the padded bras. I am trying to give the girls (I have a 9 yr old too) a sense of “I have enough, I am enough” but this is sending an entirely different message, one of you need more, your breasts should be bigger. Oh, how I could go on and on about this, Erin. It bothers me so much.

    I agree with Rachel. That book has been earmarked and read incessantly. I will admit, though, that there’s a bit about tampon use that happened to fall open when my husband was in their bathroom. I can’t even describe his, um, reaction LOL It is a really good conversation starter.

  6. Elisa Taub says:

    And the bathing suits often have padding as well. Crazy. T

  7. The padding flipped me out too and we had to work hard to find appropriate bras. Hint: SEARS. They’re perfect for tweens.

    Also when I took Jane for swimsuits and bras and whatnot I was HORRIFIED by the molded bras as well but the girls really like them. They keep nipples from showing and when I pull the padding out of my bikinis Jane thinks I’m weird.

    This one you might want to roll with. Think moulded rather than padded.

  8. Don’t beat yourself up. The fact that you ARE talking about this with them is sadly SO MUCH MORE than some other mothers are doing… I recently read a FB comment thread wherein multiple moms whose girls are the ages of ours-ish were saying that when their kids asked them where babies come from, they said, “since I had them via C-section, I could honestly say ‘the doctor cut open my belly and pulled you out!'” That scares me. Because while it is technically true, if they keep dancing around the truth, how are their kids going to grow up safe? They need information!

    But I digress. We ended up with the same half-undershirts that I think you’re talking about, and for the same reason: to provide a barrier between moving clothing and sensitive nipples. Reading about the padded stuff is wigging me out. I’m glad to have learned through the comments here that Sears has good stuff. Whew!

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