Your Bod

Your Bra Questions—Answered!

A guide to everything you ever wanted to know about that area between your shoulders…

When it comes to growing breasts, there are two camps of girls. One collectively smiles, "Hallelujah, I’m a woman! Look at my beautiful curves!" The other freaks, "Ick, I look like a woman! Look at my disgusting curves."
Seeing your upper bod totally grow before your very own eyes can bring out some mighty strong feelings—and a whole slew of new wonders and worries. How do you know when you're officially ready for a bra? What if you don't want one? What if you wish you had more to fill it out? We know you've got lots and lots of questions. The good news is that we've got the answers.

"I want a bra and, honestly, I don't need it. I just want it! Everyone else has one."
A lot of girls don't want to be first or last for anything, and you may feel that wearing a bra would help you feel like you fit in with the crowd. Check out the options at the store and approach your mom, explaining that you would like to buy a bra. You can even suggest a training bra, which is a first-timer's bra for those who don't necessarily need one yet. However, for those of you who don't need a bra and are happiest in cotton tees, don't worry about doing the bra thing. You'll have plenty of time to wear one later.

"I want a bra, but I don't know how to approach my mom about it."
The best approach? Be straightforward. Talk about how you feel. If you want a bra so you can feel like part of the crowd, admit it. You might want to drop a hint such as, "I noticed that Meg and Taylor are wearing bras now. I was thinking that maybe I should, too." If talking it over with your mom feels truly impossible, try approaching a grandmom, aunt, even your older sister. They've all been there, too. If you're totally stuck, talk to your doctor on your next visit. She can help you sort things out and possibly even approach your mom for you. And give it time. This is a transition for both you and your mom. She is used to thinking of you as a little girl and it may be overwhelming for her to realize you're becoming a young woman.

"Do I need a bra even if I don't have my period?"
It depends, really. Although it's true that your chest development is linked to the same hormonal surge that brings on your period, it's quite possible that you'll start to grow before you get your period—or vice versa.

"My mom wants to buy me a bra but I don't want one and don't think I need one. I'm happy with undershirts."
Has your mom has noticed some changes that you might not have? While many girls wait anxiously for any signs of puberty, other girls just have other stuff on their minds. So take an honest look and see if your mom might be right. Are you bouncing around? Are your clothes still fitting right? Chances are you aren't alone. Look around your school and you'll probably see that quite a few girls are going through changes, too. If you still want another opinion, ask a friend what she thinks. And then give bras a try.

"Okay, I'll get a bra, but I'm not going to buy one in public."
First off, you have nothing to be embarrassed about. Just about every woman you know wears a bra and bra shopping is a normal part of life. Also, if you run into girls from school, you can console yourself with the knowledge that they're there for the exact same reason you are. That said, most girls would rather not have a salesclerk screaming for a price check while half the drama club is in the next line.

One way to go is to shop at places where you know you won't run the risk of seeing anyone else. Says Pam, 13, "Once I knew how to pick my right size, I would go to someplace I don't ordinarily shop and get whatever I wanted, knowing no one would see me running in a out of the dressing room with ten bras in my hand."
Emily, 14, makes it a point to get fitted for her growing bra size when she is on family trips. “There is a fancy mall where we go for weekends and my Mom and I tell my dad and my brother we'll meet 'em in an hour and I can go get fit again. No one knows who I am out there so I can buy whatever."
If you truly can't deal, ask your mom to buy a few bras on her next run to the mall; then try them on and have her return those that don't fit.

"I don't want one of those lacy bras with all the wire and stuff!"
No problem. You don't need to jump right in and do the lace and underwire thing. Try a sports bra. It will give you the support you need without looking too frilly. There are tons of different looks and styles out there. There are bras without straps, bras that hook really low in the front or back and bras that have straps placed either really wide or really close to your neck. It's all about what makes you feel most comfortable and confident.

"My breasts are two different sizes, I'm not kidding! Nothing fits."
This is totally normal and nothing to panic about. Many girls and women have breasts that are different sizes. It's not unhealthy or freaky or even worrisome. Styles that have cups made out of stretch fabric can give you a better fit. But to get a true fit, you need a half size, something not a lot of bra makers have. One who does is Playtex. Visit

"I can see my bra right through my shirt. What gives?"
If your bra is white and so is your shirt, it can show through. You also might notice that some of your shirts and dresses won't always work with the bras you have. Fortunately, bras come in all kinds of styles and colors and lack of choice should never be a reason not to get dressed in clothes that make you feel good. Lots of bra styles come in nude colors that match your skin. With a little smart shopping, there shouldn't be anything in your closet that you can't wear.

"All my friends are so much bigger than I am."
And they'll be the first to tell you, that's not always such a good thing. Girls with big breasts often feel just as shy and awkward as you do. Just like some girls are way taller than you, everyone develops at a different rate. What you have now won't necessarily be what you have forever. In the meantime, appreciate how great your body looks now and make the most of what you have.  

"I want to stuff. Do you think it's a good idea?"
Stuffing horror stories abound. It never seems to fail that the day you break out the box of Kleenex is the day your crush falls on top of you in a freak cafeteria accident and a winter cold's worth of tissues goes flying out in front of the entire school. Your best choice is make peace with the figure you have. Realize that there are lots of styles you can wear that bustier girls can't. You're also able to run and jump without tons of extra support. If you really want to pump of the volume a bit, look for a lightly-lined style that will provide a bit more shape. 


"Do those bust-enhancing creams work? What about exercises?"
Do those bust-enhancing creams really work? If they did, our fingers would be too greasy to type. No, they don't. What they do, according to one beauty insider, is temporarily plump the skin with heavy moisturizers or make it tingle by adding refreshing ingredients. As for boosting your bust, most of the exercises you are referring to actually build up your back muscles or the muscles that lie underneath the chest, called the pectorals. Exercise is a great thing to do for your body but it won't do a darn thing for your cup size. The easiest way to make the most of what you've got is to stand up straight, walk tall and stop toe-gazing when you're headed down the hall. Good posture makes everyone, and everything, look better.   

"This guy who sits behind me in English thinks it's totally fun to snap my bra. How do I make him stop?"
Next time he does it, turn around and give him a wedgie. Okay, just kidding, sort of. This guy is an immature loser. Cate, 12, found this retort effective, "Do that again and those fingers are going to be gone." Janie, 14, says, "I've learned just to say, 'cut it out' in a firm tone of voice. That usually stops them."  If you feel comfortable with your teacher, you can always threaten to get her involved. Worse comes to worse, ask to have your seat changed or wear a sports-style bra. But this creep needs to change his behavior, not you.

We want to hear from you! Send us your weirdest body questions here (seriously, we'll answer anything!) and it just might get featured.


7/1/2009 7:00:00 AM