The last thing I remember about my eleventh birthday party is crying in my bedroom next to a crumpled pile of tissue paper. I don't remember what I ate, what friends attended, or what I wore. The only gift I remember receiving was my first bra.
I understand this is one of many rites of passage a girl endures before becoming a young woman. Unfortunately my body was ready for me to grow up quicker than my family was prepared for, being the only child to a young mother. Wearing a bra was never really discussed, just like shaving my legs, or the complex relationship between girls and boys. And this is how I found myself filled with embarrassment and tears in my eyes holding an ivory bra, having no idea (and I mean no idea) what to do with it.
I felt shame in owning a bra. Growing up in a small town we didn't have stores that catered to a younger market (at least, none that my family wanted to bring me to) so I was left shopping at department stores-grabbing random sizes off the rack hoping for the best. I didn't know what fit, and everything looked too mature in ivory and muted colours. As the only one out of all my friends that had to wear one I felt isolated, and unable to discuss my new undergarment with them.
My introduction to bras was unfortunate, and some peoples opinion of what young girls should be wearing is equally so. I do not think 10 year old girls should be walking around in lacy lingerie, but I know there are better options than the ivory and white shapeless bras similar to my first one. Mother's should be talking openly with their daughters about their bra options and the importance of one that fits properly. It took me years to get my first bra fitting and I was shocked when they told me I was a 30DD, thinking of all the 36C's I had sitting in my lingerie drawer at home.