Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Padded Bras for Girls: What's The Message?

Girls' padded bras for sale at
Kohl's Department Store
While shopping at our local Kohl's, I found this display in the children's section. Yes, these are rows upon rows of padded bras. Surprised? It's not just Kohl's. I've also noticed similar trends in other girls' clothing stores, like the popular tween retailer, Justice.

Snapping a picture of the bras with my cell phone, my blood pressure went up. I have so many issues with this. And questions, too. Why do stores push the notion that young girls should artificially enlarge their breasts? Just who is benefiting from the girls wearing these bras? Do girls feel more popular and well-liked if their breasts appear larger than they really are? Are manufacturers making these bras, and the retailers selling them, because they are actually in demand? Apparently the answer to that last question is "yes."

But it's not just about the bras. Look at any girls clothing store, and you can see short skirts, short shorts, skinny jeans, skimpy bikinis and bare midriff shirts all marketed for kids. And while my beef with clothing may technically fall outside the "media and family" theme of my blog, I think it relates with the messages that the mainstream media sends to all of us about young girls and women. After all, the media promotes fashion, trends and ideas about body image, and those ideas eventually translate into product sales.

Girls are particularly vulnerable to messages that they see in the media. According to Miss, "three out of four teenage girls feel depressed, guilty and shameful after spending three minutes leafing through a fashion magazine." But perhaps more important are the messages that girls receive at home. Does mom worry incessantly about her looks, or does she model a healthy, and happy, view of herself? Does dad criticize mom's or daughter's body, or is he accepting and encouraging? Do mom and dad endorse purchases of short skirts and padded bras prematurely?

We may not be able to change the world, or how the world grades girls' bodies, but we can make a difference at home. Through sensible purchases, candid discussions, and a loving and accepting environment in which girls can be girls, we can help our daughters develop at their own pace, discovering that they have value beyond their appearance.


  1. I was JUST having the same conversation with my mom friends! There are a few girls at school (4th & 5th graders) who are wearing padded bras AND padded swim suit tops and I'm surprised and offended by this. You're right - what kind of a MESSAGE is this to send to young girls? And it's not just the mom's obsession with her looks that feeds into it--to me it says far too much about MALE expectations and body artifice. Just paving the way for more acceptance about cosmetic surgery.

  2. Some girls need the padded bras to help cover their breasts better, but otherwise, I do get what you're saying. ;)