Monday, April 9, 2012

My Life Story: The Unexpected


One evening when I was ten years old everything changed.


I came home from school one day and found my mother talking to my dad on the phone.

"Ok, we'll go after you get home from work," she said to him.

When the phone call was over my mother announced,

"Courtney, when Dad gets home from work today we're going shopping."

Shopping, my love. My one great love of life. I had inherited a love of clothes from both sides of my well-dressed family. My dad was preppy in his day, popped collars and Converse. My mother wore bright colors, patterns and always, always a fabulous pair of shoes.

Twice a year--back to school and my birthday--my mother would take me to Salt Lake where we'd spend hours at Nordstrom trying everything on, from shoes to lipstick and dresses to hair accessories. The more successful my dad's company became the more we would pack white Nordstrom sacks into trunk of the Audi.

But this shopping trip was unexpected, there was no special occasion, just a weekday in Utah Valley, like any other day in my fourth grade life.

We took my dad's car when he got home from work. My mother didn't have her shopping face on at all I thought as we started out for University Mall. She looked, in fact, anxious.

"You need a bra, Courtney," Mom said to me, looking at the road.

I was shocked, completely. This bombshell was dropped on my lap in the middle of my childhood. I had no idea my chest had grown. Didn't my body look like all my friends, flat and concealed?

"It doesn't, Honey."

A nice lady, busty, brown hair with wispy white details helped us in the lingerie department, the one department we had never shopped in before, the one department that would never be a mystery to me again.

Trying on each contraption I wondered a thousand things, what did all this change about my life? Bras and boobs? Did this mean my childhood was over? Could I still play with my paper dolls and make believe with my friends?

I picked out two bras in white, Mom liked the eyelets on the cup and the glossy stitching around the straps. I wanted to melt in a puddle of puberty when we went to the counter to buy the things. My mother handed over her well-worn credit card and made flowery conversation with the lady.

"Isn't this a wonderful day for Courtney?"

"Womanhood."

"Budding."

"Blooming."

"Wonderful!"

On the car ride home, down the hill into the valley and back up to the foothills where we lived, my mother talked to me about my body, boys, the secrets of womanhood opening up like presents I didn't know were coming. When I was five years old my mother came home from a neighborhood meeting about sex education, climbed in bed with me and told me everything--the mechanics of it all, the science behind procreation, but she didn't talk about the emotions, attraction, passion and lust. That talk was reserved for the night I got my first bra.

Through the streets we drove, passing yellow street lights that illuminated my form like a body scanner, back and forth, back and forth searching, searching. Why was this my life? An early bloomer, my body filling out before my childhood was over. I felt embarrassed and betrayed by my body. I kept wondering what I did to deserve this situation, had I eaten too much sugar?

"Page didn't need a bra until she was much older, but I was like you. I was ten when I needed one."

My heritage was of early bloomers, busty women who wore specialty bras and endured the attention all the while. My gorgeous aunts Liz and Cindy, my grandmother Marion, my mother, and now me.

The attention, my mother addressed that too.

"The boys, they will notice tomorrow Courtney, you might want to tell a couple friends, but don't tell everyone. You don't need to talk about it with your whole class." I was a social girl, one who liked to make connections and share experiences, but thankfully this was one I could keep for myself.

The next day I woke up and started dressing for school like any other day, except this morning I put on the white eyelet bra and looked for a shirt that would camouflage any of the resulting lines. I prayed all day no one would notice, I told a few friends at lunch recess, begging them not to tell a soul. Everything I did, from raising my hand to PE, I did gingerly, hoping to slide by without attention. All went well until late recess. I was on the monkey bars, hanging upside down when my shirt inched its way toward gravity, revealing my white bra wrapping around my torso, covering up my bubbly chest.

"YOU ARE WEARING A BRA?" said the boy, huge grin on his freckled face. It bothered me that my body would cause such a fantastic reaction to him, even if my mother had warned me in the discussion about why boys like breasts. I flipped down from the monkey bars and headed towards the gathering of my friends on the black top.

"YOU ARE WEARING A BRA?" he continued to follow me. I turned to tell him to shut up when my best friend Wendy came to my rescue. She put her arms around me, shielding me away from his eyes. His eyes were the weirdest part, they were jumping and sparkling, like I had just made his day.

By the last bell of the day it had been leaked that one my friends had spilled my secret to the boys. This boy in particular had watched me all day for proof--evidence he found while watching me on the monkey bars. I went home wondering how many days of my life would feel like this, betrayed by a friend, harassed by boys and full of shame and guilt for something I had no control over at all.


73 comments:

Emilie and Branden said...

That hurts my feelings :(

Christine said...

"Melt in a puddle of puberty."

Oh, that has got to be THE. BEST. description of that time of life that I have ever heard. Great job. Great writing.

Vesuvius At Home said...

Oh god, I know. So so painful. The boys used to snap my bra straps. In 6th grade they slapped us girls on our behinds and got away with it. People talk about "mean girls" but all my lasting damage was inflicted from boys. I need to take a shower.

Krista said...

Yep, I've been there. The first day I wore a bra to school (5th grade), a boy came up behind me and snapped it. I was so embarrassed. You really captured those feelings perfectly. I'm so glad that puberty is now in my distant past.

Stacie said...

Great writing for sure. I hated the day my mom told me I had to start wearing one. I think I was 12 or so. Even today , I have a bra from VS but it enunciates my chest too much so I refuse to wear it and keep wearing my old ones. I still get embarrassed to be shopping in the bra section at a department store. Ah, life.

Heather @ Raising Memories Blog said...

This made me cry. Like Emilie, "this hurts my feelings." :(

Mrs. Mari said...

I never want to revisit puberty again. I started wearing a bra in 6th grade and it was so degrading the way thoseo of us wearing a bra, at that time, were treated/mistreated.

I feel so torn over your writing this, as in so happy to read it--you are so talented in your writing. But then I hate this particular memory it brought back to me. 6th-10th grade were the worst years of my life.

You do make me smile remembering.

--Mari

Emily said...

I am 35 years old, and I have 5 children. I have yet to have that experience. I spent my life being envious of you women who were blessed with something...anything. (Politely envious; not mean spirited or anything. Just wondering why God loved you more than me because he actually desired you to look like a woman instead of perpetually sporting the 12-year-old boy look.) I often wonder what it would be like to purchase a bra that did not have the word "miracle" in the title. I broke down and bought a bra the day before 7th grade because I had to go to gym class and it was extremely important to look like everyone else in the room when you are 12/13 years old and forced to change clothes in front of each other.

But I never thought about it from this point of view. That would be awful to be ridiculed in front of everyone. I'm sorry you had to go through that. But your writing is beautiful and perfectly descriptive. I agree with Christine "Melt in a puddle of puberty" is spot on.

I now repent for being politely envious.

natalie said...

And then there was MY mother who staunchly refused to accept that I was developing and, at 11, my breasts were much bigger than hers, so I endured the ridicule of NOT having a bra until the seventh grade when mom finally gave me one of her old ones...two sizes too small in the cups and four inches too big in the band. I had to take myself bra shopping when I finally got my driver license. When my daughter needed her first bra, things went MUCH differently!

Becca's Dirt said...

I remember my first bra and the boys like popping those straps. Boys...

Allison said...

Awww that's so sad! I remember being in the 5th grade and being SOOO HAPPY when My mom said I was getting a bra. I remember thinking, "sweet! I've actually got BOOBS! Time for Bras and Makeup and purses and maybe she'll even let me shave my legs!" :)

Steve and Alli said...

Ugh, torture. Elementary school bullying at it's finest, the boys nicknamed me "stuff-a-lup-agus" because clearly I wanted to appear to have boobs and be made fun of. Like any girl is ever happy to draw attention to that "magical change". Now I need to go drink a red bull to take the edge off :P

Tami said...

When my mom took me to buy my first bra, she was in a big hurry because she had to be somewhere. She said we didn't have time for a dressing room, we could just try them on over my shirt. Worst. Day. Ever. At least your mom was sweet about it and made it a nice experience!

marlamuppets said...

i would like to wish my boobs away. the girls who complain about having nothing ... they have no idea.

makes me think of the movie 'now and then' with demi moore, rosie odonnell, rita wilson and that blonde lady that i'm blanking on her name -- when the young character taped herself all up -- so no one would notice -- it looked awfully painful. :)

i hope to help my kids go through this stage gracefully -- but i'm not sure it can be done.

Evelyn @ Hanging by a Silver Lining said...

I loved the street lights body scanner imagery. Your writing is something to savor.

Shan said...

Oh I remember the bra when I was 10. It was the worst!

jenifer said...

i have 7 kids and i still hardly need a bra... both extremes are hard. i had a boy friend in high school who always competed with me for the top grades in our classes. after an AP history test i wrote 98% on a paper and held it up to brag that i beat him. he smiled and held up a paper with AA on it (earlier that day another friend had bragged he could guess every girls bra size). i was mortified. But, he was right. my first daughter will be like me, my second daughter (only 16 months younger) is like my husband's family. she already wears a training bra. BOTH of them cry to me at night. i have five daughters and i just pray that somehow i'll make it through navigating parenthood with each of my sweet, different girls. it's tough!! thanks for sharing your story!

tharker said...

I fully believe that no one goes through puberty unscathed. I had the opposite problem of being a late bloomer. I waited and waited for something...anything to signal that my body would begin changing. All the while, watching from what seemed like the puberty sidelines as all my friends were growing up and I still felt like a little girl.

I was 14 before I needed a bra (even then, I probably still could have gotten away without one ;) or started my period. I finally felt like I had joined the club. Of course my first bra shopping experience was humiliating. For whatever reason, my mom had asked my dad to take me and he in his infinite (and cheap) wisdom decided that Goodwill would be an excellent place to find a bra! I was mortified! I pretended to not be able to find one in my size and slipped out to the car while he perused the used books. So awesome.

When I say I was a late bloomer, I mean it. Within 6 months of graduating high school, I went from a very small B to a rather full C. It was crazy and even at 18 I was self conscious of my still changing body. One day while working out at the gym, a cute guy I went to high school with stopped me in the middle of butterflies weight lifting and said "You know, it took you a LONG time to grow those things, you'll ruin them if you keep working out like this!". I was so embarrassed and wanted to punch him, but all I could do was stammer out a "shut up" and run away.

Now that I have daughters, a part of me secretly hopes that they take after my late bloomer ways, purely to avoid the issues with boys. But the other part of me hopes they develop right along with all of their friends to avoid the embarrassment that I felt.

I've decided that it doesn't matter if you "bloom" early or late, it's all a crapshoot. ;)

Seth and Natalie said...

The first time I wore a bra was our scoliosis check in 5th grade. I sneaked into my older sister's room and stole one of hers. I didn't really need one until I was about 14, so my mom wouldn't get me one. I was stuck pilfering my sister's lingerie drawer until then.

kuliejellogg said...

So your mom explained WHY men love boobs, huh? Can you share her wisdom with us? I just don't get it.

Delirious said...

I was just the opposite. I had to beg my mother in 6th grade to get me a bra. I wasn't really developed, but I was developed enough that I was embarassed. I'm just glad she got me one, even though she thought I didn't need one. I think it's a traumatic even for everyone!

Millie said...

I'm so sorry! My mom got be a bra in 4th grade but it was itchy and horrible. I'd try and sneak out of the house without it and she would send me back to my room to put it on. 15 years later I'm a size J (isn't nursing a beast) and I still hate wearing one(or shopping for one). I feel like, wasn't a double D good enough?

Tracie said...

I am loving this format for your memoir and the topics you've begun with. My mother has been asking us to write our stories and while I blog, I keep to pretty mundane safe stuff that updates my family so far away about what we're up to. I love that after each of your posts, I want to write about my own experience and talk to my mom and sisters about theirs. These are the topics we want to understand about ourselves and our families although often they go unspoken for various reasons. Beautiful writing! Thank you!

Lindsey said...

I had the opposite problem! I finally (and sheepishly) asked my mom to take me bra shopping right before 7th grade started because I did NOT want to change naked in my upcoming gym class. I didn't actually NEED that bra until college to be honest. And I was always jealous of girls like you. I'm now 26 and 7 months pregnant with my first baby and I've fnally got the chest I coveted all those years. I must admit, I'm loving it :) Though I can see how this would be less fun if I were 10...

Kelly said...

Courtney, these posts are awesome! I loved reading about this one and all the comments. Thanks for making me laugh! :)

p.s. Congrats on your new niece! I love being an auntie! :)

d squared said...

"even if my mother had warned me in the discussion about why boys like breasts"
was your mom REALLY able to explain why guys like boobs to you?
love your writing - keep going, it's just lovely.

Alisha said...

You poor thing. My grandma, mom and little sister developed early, and all have big chests (my sister is only 15!). I, however, was a flatsy Patsy until I was 21 and started having health problems that made me gain weight. I always wonder if I just developed or if it's just fat and I'll lose it when I lose weight! But being flat comes with its own set of problems. SO glad we're past that stage!

Vanessa said...

Yes yes yes! "Melt in a puddle of puberty." is what describes my first bra shopping experience as well.

Amanda said...

I grew up with a single Dad and one day around 6th grade-age, he said "I guess it's time" (It totally wasn't, but I think I was the last girl to start wearing a bra.) He took me to the department store, LEFT me in the bra section and said he'd come back in a bit. What the crap?! I stood staring at the wall of training bras with more horror, confusion and embarrassment than I thought one person could handle. It was awful!

Robyn :) said...

I think I was around your age when I got my first bra, but don't really remember it. I do remember that we always went to Hinshaws(in California) department store because they fitted you there.

Amanda said...

Beautifully written. Even now, as grown women, those memories can creep up and make us cringe somewhere deep inside. I didn't need a bra until well into high school, but gym class in middle school necessitated the buying of one. I can still remember the incriminating stares of the more developed girls in the locker room as I dressed down, wearing a sports bra without any breasts to speak of.

Linda said...

University Mall was also my initiation into the world of bras. Sadly, I still hate bra shopping.

phylly3 said...

When I was in the 7th grade I got my first bra and sadly I didn't even need it, but I remember being proud of it. I think it was a triple A. The first day I wore it to school we had swimming for gym class. At the end of class we had to shower and change back into our school clothes. When I got back to class I realized I didn't have my bra on! After school I returned to the gym, but it was gone. I was so embarrassed to have to tell my mom.

Emilie said...

This is so interesting (as are the comments) because I remember my first bra like a badge of honor! I went to school and hoped that everyone would realize I was wearing a bra. I felt so grown up. I was a woman! (hardly)

Maybe this experience can be largely changed based on how the parents treat it? Not sure. I have three daughters (the oldest is seven) and I wonder how I can make it a good experience for them as they reach this milestone?

Thanks for getting em thinking about it ahead of time!

Morgan Lee said...

Ha. I was also in the fourth grade when my mom told me it was time I got a bra. She wasn't as sweet about it as your mom was, though. She sat me down and told me with a warning tone and a stern frown that the I needed a bra. Today.

I cried and refused. Just plain refused. She gave into my tantrum, and did not make me get the bra. Then next year in the fifth grade, even some of my flatter classmates were talking about getting training bras. Finally confident that I wouldn't be the only one wearing one, I told my mom after school one day that, "I think I need a training bra."

She practically sang "Hallelujah!" but then got serious again when she told me I was way beyond a training bra. So we got a normal one, a wireless and flexible number, and I immediately adapted. By the time I got to sixth grade, most of my embarrassment about early puberty was gone because I met a lot more girls who were in the same boat I was. In fact, many were in an even bigger boat than I was... if you read me.

The attention early development brings from boys -- sometimes much older boys -- is awkward for sure, but for me the worst part was just feeling like a freak for a year or two. Once my friends caught up, though, it was much easier.

alane said...

you could have been writing my story. I too had skinny, minnie friends. It was the sixties when Twiggy was cool and I was busty and miserable. My mom made me wear tent dresses until 5h grade when I needed a bra in late 4th. It was misery. Being so different. Hating my body. And yup that day when a boy spied my straps...asked me if I had got a bra for my birthday. In front of a bunch of other boys, and I cried and ran to the teacher. She laughed at me. I've never healed from that. Still feel picked on a bit for being busty. Silly, I know.
Thanks for speaking for me too.

Phaedra said...

Wow! Just had a flashback to fifth grade and the boys flipping my bra strap. Going to my happy place now!

shansbox said...

Although I was also an early bloomer, I didn't have the same problem with my growing chest (which my mom handled well). No, my problem was the unwanted hair growth that I wasn't aware of. Awesome.
Scene: Me, playing on the monkey bars (at lunch, thank goodness, so there weren't as many people around) in 6th grade. Arms go up... girls start pointing and laughing, and I discover that I've been growing underarm hair. That's the day I became known as "Cousin It with the hairy pits."

Lucy said...

I am thinking of your last line... it scares me a bit. Hope I'm wrong. Love ya.

Me said...

For me--it was never "you're wearing a bra"--it was "you're fat". The boys seemed too embarrassed about the "breast" or "bra" part--so they just labeled me as fat. I wasn't--just developing. Unfortunately the label stuck.

Although I was pantsed in 4th grade. I forgot about the bra flipping. That seemed to happen more in 7th grade--once I was officially in "middle school". No--my favorite part was that I did NOT get to go shopping for a bra. We had VERY little money--and even less for clothing. So from 3rd grade on, I wore hand-me-downs that never fit. My older sister was smaller than me--not really "needing" a bra until she was nearly 14. She had them once she was 11. So, I got her hand-me-downs. But--I needed one at 10--and she at 14. So--they never fit. So, I spent my 5th and 6th grade years ducking down "below" my desk, reaching up my shirt, and pulling down the "training" bra--so it would actually cover the "bumps" it was supposed to be training.

I didn't have a "new" bra until I was nearly 16. By then I was a C cup--both of my sisters were B's. I lived in denial until Oprah taught me better--and finally at about 20, I swallowed my C cup pride--and went to JC Penny's--where I was measured correctly--and finally purchased 2 D cup bras that fit perfectly and had the actual type of support I needed.

Although I hate to say you should feel lucky--you should. At least your parents had enough money to buy you a bra that fit--when you needed one.

Elizabeth said...

I actually can't remember getting my first bra - perhaps I've blocked it out? ;). I know I had one in 8th grade.but didn't at least in part of 7th, but I seem to recall it being summer when I got one...I know I got my period on my 12th birthday, right before 7th began, so a bra couldn't have been far behind. Nonetheless, my only real bra-associated memory is changing for gym one day in 7th grade and one of the 8th graders drawled, "you don't wear a BRA?!". I haven't got any idea what I replied, but I remember forcing myself to brush it off. I developed fast and completely - I have always bought the same size bra since I was 12. And stretch marks on my hips and boobs attest to the fact!

Rachel said...

My first bra came when I was 3rd grade actually. Not because I was developing yet, cause I wasn't, but because one day I was wearing a big t-shirt and as I was lifting my arm, some stupid boy looked in the arm hole and said, "Nice boobs!" I. Was. Mortified! I forced my mom to buy me a training bra that night. As a single LDS woman, he still remains the only boy (other than doctors)who has ever seen my chest. Awkward. ;)

I love your life stories, C Jane! I just got into reading blogs about a month ago and have been so inspired by you to do more with mine. I'm still a long way from where I want to be, but I'm getting there. I'm trying to get more readers, so anyone who reads this comment, feel free to check it out!
lovellmetender.blogspot.com

Keep it up, C Jane! I look forward to reading your posts every day!

Lidia Lavonna said...

Honestly, I don't remember a ton about my first bra shopping experience. I remember getting a white training bra that I hated when I was in elementary school, but I guess bras are just so much a part of who I have been that I don't remember not having them.

Getting my period I remember clearly though.

I cried because I was told I couldn't go swimming when I was on it. And I hated pads, but my mom had biased me against tampons. So that sucked.

Jen said...

I'm 28 and pretty sure your 10 year old self could out-cup-size me.

Loving your life story and the conversations your posts inspire.

Paola said...

"Through the streets we drove, passing yellow street lights that illuminated my form like a body scanner, back and forth, back and forth searching, searching" How do you come up with these lines? You are THE BEST!

Simply Sandy said...

I feel your pain - I was what the call a VERY early bloomer - I needed a bra in the 2nd grade. Luckily that early girls still had cooties so none of the boys said anything and I sure didn't tell ANYONE

Becky said...

yep, 10 years old was the magic age for me as well. i popped and kept on popping. what would count as sexual assault now-a-days happened frequently all over the playground - group grab-and-gropes, frisking while waiting in line for lunch and the side boob cup while sitting next to me in class. it was really hard to write and keep my elbows locked by my side for that entire year. i laugh about the boobage now, but back in the day - it was traumatizing and it came with a lot of unwanted attentions until the other girls "popped". i still remember my first day of school after bra shopping - i wore a thick flannel shirt on on the hottest days of school and spent the day with sweat rolling down my back - and it was worth every drop to keep everyone from finding out for one more day.

Mommy K said...

I'm thinking of all these references to blooming bodies, while sitting next to my window where there are tiny buds starting on the branches. How come I never made it past budding? haha
I remember a horrible boy in my class in 9th grade teasing, "I had a dream about you last night, and I woke up feeling the wall." AAH! A crude comedian in the making. I wish our kids could somehow navigate puberty with a little more dignity! We start out life just loving experiencing the world through our bodies, but things get so complicated along the way, don't they? Your journey to accepting and listening to yours is inspiring. Thanks for painting the other side of the picture for me - my heart goes out to your blossoming ten year old self! Great writing!

Sandy said...

My best friend in elementary school got her first bra when she was 11. I was so envious. I wanted one too but my mother said not until I bounced when I ran. Then I turn 18 and can't wait to burn my bra with the rest of the women's libers. Funny. Love those 60s.

Catherine Dabels said...

So....why DO boys like breasts?

Rachel said...

your last line is really powerful...the kind of thing that scares me about my children- I hope they are never that person- causing shame, or feeling it, needlessly. this was really moving and powerful.

Andrea said...

My first bras were an unasked for and in my opinion unnecessary 12th birthday present from my mum. I suppose I did have slight ‘bumps’ under my nipples, but nothing too noticeable under my school uniform or a slightly baggy T shirt.

At mums behest I tried the bra on but it felt so uncomfortable compared with the vest I normally wore (if i wore anything). The elastic seemed like an iron band around my ribcage and I hated the way it seemed to emphasise my changing shape.

To be fair to mum, she didn’t press the issue and for several months the bras remained unworn in my drawer. Although my’ bumps’ were getting slightly bigger, As long as my shirts weren’t too tight or thin they weren’t too noticeable or uncomfortable..

The summer holidays that year weren’t as enjoyable as they used to be. Apart from a major outbreak of spots, my ‘assets’ (which I definitely regarded as liabilities) ment that I had to wear a vest under my T shirts and make sure that I kept my chest covered as I was changing into and out of my swimsuit. Worse still, I could feel them moving about when I was running around.

When it was time to buy clothes for the new school year, mum insisted on buying bras instead of vests (the original ones were too small). I suppose I did gradually get used to wearing one and at least avoided the indignity of a couple of my classmates who were taken to one side by our games teacher and told that they needed to get their mums to buy them a bra for PE.

Strangely enough, my younger sister was the complete opposite. Before she was 11 she had comandeered my original training bras and would only take them off when she changed into her nightclothes

Reimer said...

I saw another commenter said the same - your quote "my mother had warned me in the discussion about why boys like breasts."
I am a grown woman and I STILL don't now. She's so smart! What did she say? :)

Hailee said...

Reading this really opens all those insecurities right back up for me. I didn't officially "bloom" until a week before my 16th birthday! I remember my mom trying to get me to wear a bra just because I was old enough that I probably should, but there really was no need. The only reason I started wearing one is because on the first day of 7th grade we had to do the scoliosis check. All the girls stood in a single file line and waited for their turn to step up to the school nurse and pull their shirt completely off. I started to panic when I realized I would be completely exposed. Like something out of a nightmare, I had to explain to the nurse that I didn't have a bra on. She had no solution for me other than to clutch my shirt to my chest while she examined my spine. I wore a bra EVERY DAY after that, even though it for "decoration", not function.

ang said...

We all went through such a painful time in puberty. I had the opposite problem, flat chested in 7th grade, the entire class called me flat board! Ugh even other flat chested girls called me that.

Rebecca Irvine said...

Thanks for this fun post. I was a fast and furious developer too. I remember my mother's angst that I kept outgrowing the bras faster than she bought them. I felt like I was misbehaving somehow. And for most of the years since then I have disliked my breasts and dreamed of the day I could afford a reduction. It has only been in recent years I have come to accept my breasts as part of me and my individual identity.

P.S. I vote for a post about why men like breasts, too. Only you could write such a post and still keep it tactful and fun.

Jenna said...

I, too, was 10. And I, too, did not want anyone to know.

I don't know that I actually needed one, because I proceeded not to wear mine and my mom didn't notice for several weeks.

I hope my daughter remains a washboard until college.

Natasha said...

I had totally forgotten about shopping for my first bra and, reading this post, all the memories came rushing back. I think I was in sixth grade and I was soooo embarrassed although my mom tried to make it as painless as possible.

Much less embarrassing was my mom taking me shopping for new bras right before my wedding. (She decided I needed new ones, I didn't think I did!) I asked that she be the only one in the change room and by the end it was my mom, me, the saleswoman, my aunt and my mom's friend in the change room. And then my friend saw me from across the women's department and waved. Yeah, there were so many of us in the (did I mention "small"???) change room the door wouldn't close and people could totally recognize me.

And it was way less embarrassing than shopping for a bra for the first time. Thank God.

Carly said...

I too had a "bubbly chest" when I was 10 :) O the embarrassment and shame I felt. That is also when I received my first bra, only to take it off in the bathroom right when I got to school. It has taken me a while to accept my chest, I even struggled all through high school where I still envied the flat chested girls, now that I am a 25 year old young woman, I am finally ok with it:)

Annie said...

I was 9 (fourth grade). But I looked 16.

My Dad took me shopping as my Mom was hospitalized. He was a health teacher which he thought qualified him (bless his heart for stepping up!)

Mike J. kept looking over my shoulder in choir. Over and over. And laughing.

By the end of the day everyone knew. The boys all stared and smiled and laughed. I assumed they were scorning me.

I remember feeling so disappoint in who I was. Feeling I was a freak. Wishing I was one of those tiny girls that looked like the 9 year olds they were.

Flash forward to college and boys having conversations with my breast ~ inviting my breast to parties...

But by then my spirit had caught up with my flesh and I knew how to handle it and how to be proud of who I was. And how to tell those kind of guys to get lost. The jealous girlfriends were another matter all-together!!

heather said...

This post made me cry. Not about my own first bra experience (although, like most it seems, I also RELUCTANTLY started wearing a bra in jr. high) but about the fact that your mom actually had conversations with you about sex, about your body, about all the myriad changes you experience growing up. I'm 31 and my mother has still never had a conversation with me about sex. Not even casually. We didn't talk about puberty. We didn't talk about my period (I learned about how to deal with that from friends). And she certainly never talked to me about the mechanics of sex, not to mention why anyone would want to do it or why guys might be attracted to my changing body. My mother is wonderful in lots of ways, but this major parenting mistake has left me with LASTING negative consequences and feelings of fear and shame about sex and about my body that I fear I will always be healing/recovering from.

Emily Heizer Photography said...

My mother bought me mine and VASTLY underestimated my band size. She got me a sports bra (who knows why) and stuffed it in my closet. When I braved up enough to put it on, I felt like I was choking to death. i couldn't breathe. If this is what it felt like to wear a bra I would NEVER wear one. I had no idea that it was just too small.

YEARS went by after that experience and I refused to wear one. My dad made comments about my shirts being "too thin" but it wasn't until I was an adult that I realized he was probably referencing the fact that my bust was visible through my shirt (CRINGE).

When I got to junior high, I was terrified of changing in the locker room and the other girls seeing I DIDNT wear one. I brought a bra in a brown paper bag the first day of 7th grade and put it on in a bathroom stall before gym, then changed in the locker room, then took it off again after class.

When I finally conceded defeat and started wearing one for real, I went straight into a C cup.

::CRINGE::

theresa said...

I used to get to school then take off my bra and carry it around in my pocket or my purse if I remembered to carry one, which was hardly ever. In retrospect, I probably got a lot more attention for going braless than I thought I would get for wearing the dumb thing. I was a total Ellie Mae and hated that "double barrel sling shot"!

Lee-Ann said...

Ugh, the transition to a bra is the worst. I have to admit I like how our Mom talked about it with you a little more. My Mom tossed them at me and told me to wear them. :s

Andrea said...

This post from Heather sounds so like my mum :

"I'm 31 and my mother has still never had a conversation with me about sex. Not even casually. We didn't talk about puberty. We didn't talk about my period (I learned about how to deal with that from friends). And she certainly never talked to me about the mechanics of sex".

I think the reason she bought me my first bra as a birthday present was to avoid talking about my changing body in advance.

She didn't talk to me about periods or buy me any pads before I started either. So for my first time I had to make do with one of her old fashioned looped towels pinned inside my knickers!

TRS said...

Hey ladies... please don't think that the late bloomers got away unscathed.

I had to ask my mom to buy me a bra - when I still didn't NEED one, (I had only what my brother referred to as 'bug bites' or 'bee stings') because every other girl in my class had and needed a bra. Think how humiliating THAT is!!

And believe me, the boys noticed that I DIDN'T wear a bra. Honestly, the only thing worse than having to deal with womanly things too early is not having having to deal with them AT ALL!!

In the car ride home, I guarded my little paper bag from JCPenney from the eyes of my brother... until we pulled into the garage and he asked, "What's in the bag?" and mom sardonically replied.... "She thinks she needs a bra." OH THE HUMILIATION!!
It was truly a training bra... just the band and the straps with some stretchy fabric triangles... no cups... just so I had enough of a bra to blend in with the other girls.

And FYI, the boys snapped the bras of the flat girls too.
On the flip side, I've STILL never been ogled for my bosoms!

Sara Ward said...

Holy Cow, Courtenayyyyy... Its like you just wrote my story for me... with one exception... my mother was not at all as forthcoming with the information your mother shared. She was downright stingy with all that stuff! Its ok. She was a nice mom in every other way. Thanks for writing this! AWESOME! :)

Mark and Anji said...

I know I am a little late to the party, but I have to share my humiliation as well. I was a late bloomer, and in 9th grade, a popular boy in school came to me in science class and asked me a question. "if you didn't have feet, would you wear shoes? ". It was a weird question and I didn't know how to answer, so I stammered out a weak "I guess not". His response? "then why do you wear a bra?"

I put my head down on my desk and cried until class was over. The rest of the year, he called me (loudly) "feet".

Kids can be so mean at that age, but I am happy to note that the desired body parts did eventually arrive.

Laura said...

as a busty girl myself and a mother of two girls who will have no other choice, but be busty- this really touched me! Such a hard time of life. I hated "becoming a woman" as my mom explained.

I LOVE your moms confidence and matter of fact-ness. I want to be like her :)

Closed for Business said...

I cried reading this. Not sure why. I think it is your mom. What an amazing mother you have. I have my own bra story, but it isn't about me, but my grandmother and her sister, my great aunt. We have a curse in our family. Some people ears, nose or feet continue to grow into old age, our boobs grow...and grow and grow and grow.

When I was 11 or 12 (didn't need a bra til I was like 14) I went bra shopping with my grandmother and aunt. They were like triple F's and G's and had to go to a speciality shop to order their bras. We three proceeded to go into a dressing room together as these two very mature ladies disrobed I saw a spectacle I shall not soon forget. When they removed their "over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders" (as my grandfather called them) there was suddenly no room for the three of us. It was like never ending boobdom! I think my eyes must have been as big as their boobs because the look on my face caused these two elderly gals to begin laughing so hysterically they could not control the jiggling and swaying of their enormous ta-tas which caused even more giggling (I think there might have been some bladder leakage too.) What seemed like an eternity these two laughed themselves into a puddle of laughter tears. And me, I have been traumatized by boobs ever since. I have the curse. Thanks ladies!!!

Debbie said...

This post made me that much more grateful to have raised five SONS.

Cathy Anderson said...

I remember my first bra and the boys like popping those straps. Boys... Lolz :D I would definitely purchase http://www.apparelnbags.com/bali/index.htm

Unknown said...

Oh, the trauma! I can't even remember exactly how old I was—either 11 or 12—because my PTSD has blocked out the details. My mother ordered my first training bra from the JC Penney catalog, and *insisted* on helping me try it on when it arrived (because, you know, it's so difficult to slip the thing over your head) and drag me kicking and screaming into some sort of mortifying mother-daughter-Hallmark-card-tv-movie moment. Just as I put it on, my 17-year-old brother came home from school and tromped up the stairs. My mother called to him and said, "Look! Your sister's got her first training bra!" He and I both screamed a deafening chorus of "MMMMMOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!" I would have preferred she order me a shovel from JC Penney. You know, so I could dig a hole, crawl into it, and die.