Today we have a very special guest post today from an important person in my life!
Advice from the Dad of a Busty Girl
My name is Jason, and I am one of the owners of A Sophisticated Pair. I’m also Erica’s dad. Part of my job is helping with the backend of the business and by being a sounding board for Erica to focus her ideas, but that’s not to say I haven’t been on the front line of The Great Bra Size Confusion.
Erica’s mom was a property manager for a major company, and as such, she spent a great deal of time at the office. Her typical workday was from 4:30am until 7:30pm, and by the time she got home, she was ready to eat and go to bed…quite understandably. I, on the other hand, worked from home as a programmer which afforded me the opportunity to be there for Erica and her brother after school (read: Errand Runner).
Part of my duties was taking the kids clothing shopping which was not a big task where my son was concerned; nor Erica…until she turned 14. Then we started to have a problem. Two, to be precise. She became busty, and our normal visits to the Junior’s department were met with dread and resistance on Erica’s part. Button front shirts became the bane of her existence because she couldn’t get the middle buttons to stay closed without gaping. Printed tees that, just months before, hit her at her waist were now midriffs showing her belly button. As a male, my answer was to suggest we move up to the Ladies department, and I was bewildered when she responded with being upset and wanting to leave the store. Her brother was always so excited about moving into the “bigger boys” sections.
Visits to the bra department of Wal-mart became futile by the summer between her 15th and 16th birthday. She had been wearing 36DDs and suddenly over that summer couldn’t find anything that fit comfortably. At her mom’s suggestion, I took her to Victoria’s Secrets for a fitting. The sales associate didn’t even let us get ten steps in the door before she curtly informed us that they wouldn’t have anything for Erica, and we were told to go to Lane Bryant. If you have never seen the look of a child being crushed, count your blessings.
Erica started withdrawing from one of her favorite things: clothes shopping. I did not realize that a bra is consider foundation clothing because men don’t have anything like this. It didn’t make sense to me that in an ill fitting bra, her waistline diminished along with her posture and her self confidence. She started wearing baggy clothes and refused to look in a mirror as she passed it. After a sixty pound weight gain at the end of college and graduate school, she joined a forum about fashion and became an active participant. She also changed the way she was eating, began drinking water instead of soda, and started exercising. When she was 22, she lost about 25 pounds, and at the behest of one of the ladies on the fashion forum, she went to Nordstroms for a fitting. The fitter took her in the back as I sat in the chairs…in the middle of a lingerie section…amidst pursed lip looks. 45 minutes later, Erica came out with a bra that she said fit her amazingly and she loved it (the Fantasie 4510). Then she smirking-ly told me she was a UK 36G. “A wha??” Wait, wait, wait. How did we go from a 38DDD to a 36G and who is this “UK?” I mean, I knew what UK meant for countries, but for bras? Was that “Unnatural Knockers?” And a “G?” At checkout, I discovered what the “G” meant. “Gone”…as in a lot of money. We jumped from 15-20 dollars a bra to 50-60. But they fit her and she started showing some of her long lost self-confidence. That small event was the start to her becoming her old self again. She started getting back into shopping and wearing clothes that fit and flattered her body.
A welcome friend returned: her smile. She started making it her mission to research as much as she could about bras and spent over two years compiling information and absorbing everything she read. Then she told me she wanted to open a specialty boutique that focused on giving women the same “ah ha” moment she had. She wanted to carry hard to find sizes and offer top notch customer service as well as to educate women through blogging and video blogging. Soon, I was educated beyond belief on the difference between plunges and balconies and what manufacturers made which sizes. Erica may not have been in the business as long as some of the other experts, but I think her background in research and her fresh perspective make her more apt to listen and adjust to customers and their needs. She constantly works beyond the store’s hours to research new styles or to look up recommendations for customers that need help or guidance.
Now, I’ve given you all this background information so I can discuss something important. (Erica should have warned you I am long winded with ADD. You should have buckled up for the rollercoa….hey look a butterfly).
As a man, I had no idea about bras. I always thought their purpose was to create a speed bump from 1st to 2nd base! Guys only know what gets passed to us from other guys. We hear “So-and-so is a D cup. Holy cow that is huge!” Band size? What’s that? We never threw around band sizes in the locker room. Trust me, we were too busy being confused by how you could be a size 4/6/8/10/etc. Our sizes are typical. “Hey, my waist is 30″ and my inseam is 31″ so I need a 30/31, maybe a 32/31.”
Of course, misinformation was working on both sides of the fence. Women were being told that they were 42C or 38DD when they were really closer to 36G. Fitters told them to add 3-5″ to their band measurement. So, it stands to reason if women were being told the wrong thing, men weren’t going to fare any better.
Dads, boyfriends, husbands, significant others, lend me your ears (eyes):
Pay attention! If your loved one suddenly seems to be wearing baggy clothes more than usual and makes comments about how much they dislike their body or bust, please listen to them. They are telling you something. As a dad, I always wanted to protect my kids. I even wanted to protect them from themselves when they were just trying to ask for help in understanding why their body was changing and how to find acceptance of it…or change it to what they wanted.
Take your daughter/girlfriend/wife/SO to get a personalized fitting. You don’t have to go with them if you are embarrassed or think it will embarrass them but do some searching and find a reputable boutique that does free fittings (charging for a fitting is silly). Measuring and using online calculators are good starting points, but they can’t compete with an in person fitting where the associate actually can bring in different sizes/manufacturers/styles.
If you have a young lady that needs to be fitted, make sure she is comfortable with the fitter. At our store, they are welcome to come in and talk with a fitter about bras with no pressure of having to do a fitting. They are also encouraged to leave on what they want to feel comfortable. It is a bit harder to do a fitting over a shirt, but the customer’s comfort is key. If the fitter requires that they remove an item of clothing that makes them uncomfortable, let them know it is okay to walk out of the fitting.
Help them educate themselves by sending them blogs or websites that provide them with the information they need to find out more about their bodies. Education is a great weapon against ignorance, and it can make them feel better going into a fitting if they know what to expect and know a little bit about how bra sizes work.
But most importantly, support them with your whole heart. We forget how insecure we were at that age, and if having both a boy and a girl taught me anything, it was that girls can be very sensitive about how their bodies develop and what that means for them. Let them know they are normal and not freakish (a term my daughter liked to apply to herself before finding a bra that fit) and encourage them to think positively about themselves. Erica says it’s called “Body Snark” now, but whatever you want to term it, teach your kids not to do it to each other or to themselves.
Understanding and compassion lets us bridge a lot of gaps with our kids, and if you have a daughter who needs your help, don’t hesitate to give it. Kids need us a lot more than they want to admit.