Padded bras for children. Again.

UK supermarket giant Tesco is coming under fire for selling a padded bra marketed towards girls as young as seven. Sound familiar? Back in 2006, Target was criticized for doing the same thing – selling padded bras under childrens’ brand names like Bratz, to girls way too young to even have boobies.
Even more interesting is that the excuse is almost exactly the same – modesty.
A spokesperson from Bratz distributor Funtastic in 2006: “The idea of the padding is for girls to be discreet as they develop.”
A Tesco spokesperson today: “It is a product designed for girls at that self-conscious age when they are just developing.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If you need to cover up a six years-old’s non-breasts in order to feel like she’s being “discreet ,” there’s something wrong with the way you look at six year-old girls.
H/t Jezebel.

Join the Conversation

  • battiecakes

    As a mother of a 9 year old girl, I’ve noticed, with distress, the trend towards ‘sexy’ or as i call them ‘hoochymama’ clothes. and Bratz is the *worst* offender. i so hate the bratz dolls & won’t allow them in my house. and it has NOTHING to do with the fact that their ethnic, but has EVERYTHING to do that they look like little ho’s. thankfully my daughter prefers clothes that are more tomboysish & have flaming skulls on them etc. but i dread the day when she needs a bra. there is NO reason for a young girl to wear padded bras. modesty my ass. i developed when i was my daughters age of 9 & needed a bra by the time i was 10. my own mother bought me a padded bra for the sake of ‘modesty’ and honestly, it just made it worse. nothing like being a ten year old girl with 15 year old looking boobies. i was teased, accused of stuffing, poked, pinched you name it. it was awful. so after much begging my mom got me non-padded bras & i wore baggy shirts the rest of my school years. more padding is the LAST thing little girls need!

  • Roni

    Man, I feel like my early boob education was particularly well-rounded. *BA dun BUM-Ching*!
    My best friend in middle school was a C cup by the time she was 10. Yes that was unusual, she got a reduction when she was a FF by the time she was 16. I however would have killed for one of these WHEN I WAS 12 as I was flat as a board until I was about 13. I felt left out. My other best friend had a very pointy B cup at 13 and remained that way. The pointiness does happen, but not everyone develops like that.
    However these do seem aimed at creating cleavage in 7-8 year olds, the listed marketing range. This quote is rather revealing
    “The bra is modelled on a plunge style – it has a very low bridge connecting the cups. It means the shape and position is lower to expose the breast tissue.”
    That sounds very much like it’s meant to lift and fluff, to create cleavage where there is none. It’s exactly how drag queens get that effect.
    I’m all for having things on the market to help make girls more comfortable, but this particular product seems designed to assist in sexualized dress up. If it were simply to camouflage nipples, a normal concern, I don’t the the teacher’s and children’s groups would be up in arms over it.

  • billdiamond

    Without minimizing the concern about oversexualizing children, are we sure this is in fact what’s going on?
    This post discusses six and seven year olds. Is that realistic and reasonable based on the article? Looking at the bra being posted, it’s a size 30A. Knowing grown women who have a chest size of 32, 30 seems a bit large for 6 or 7 year olds. In fact, on sizing charts I find online typically show chest sizes of 30″ for ages 11-12. One chart even says 11-12yo is only 28″.
    One site showing sizes for 7yo says Chest: 25.75″

  • janet

    At eight, my almost-there breasts were extremely tender when fabric would rub against them, especially in the cold. I remember walking home from school in the winter crying because of the pain. My mom eventually fashioned some training bra pads out of an old, soft sweatshirt. I would have loved something with more discrete padding to make life less miserable back then.

  • GottaBeMe

    This looks like the kind of padded bra that adult women buy, because they want to look like they have larger breasts than they actually do.
    I can understand wanting a very basic type of bra for young developing girls to diminish “pointiness” and jiggling, but you can do that with a bra that’s more like a sports bra. These stiff, padded cups with the plunging neckline look like they are designed to create the appearance of more pronounced cleavage. What girl at the stage of “developing” needs that? All that will do is attract more stares toward her chest, which will look much older than the rest of her does.
    I developed early too, I had to start wearing a bra at age 9, and yes, boys teased me about it, which was humiliating. By age 15 I was wearing baggy, loose shirts all the time, mostly because my chest was getting a lot of attention from older guys and even grown men, and it made me very uncomfortable. I was nowhere near ready to handle that.

  • lizadilly

    Yknow, I got the “pointy” chest in 5th grade and that’s all I’ve had for the last 16 years. I don’t want to “camouflage” them or push them up — I would just like the world to accept that some boobs are small and pointy. I don’t see how this product would help girls become more comfortable with their bodies. It will just change the anxiety from “I wish I had that girl’s chest” to “I wish I had that girl’s bra” — which you know is exactly what the marketers hope for.

  • kultakutri

    It’s not fair. There’s padded bras for small girls and no decent unpadded bras for adult women:D

  • Sarah

    That is so fucked up. Me and my boyfriend were at target a while back and we were absolutely APPALLED at the bras that look like they are for women in the little girls section. We assumed it was because young girls are developing faster now than ever, and they needed more support/comfort.
    I wasn’t referring to padded bras, but mostly the underwire grown-up looking bras.
    But padding is pretty ridiculous..although I understand I don’t think it is a good idea because like a poster up there said, it will only change the anxieties of puberty not diminish it.
    I started developing around the age of 12 and I got those little pointy nipples too and I was so embarrassed by them. I don’t know why… but I think it had to do with the fact that I wanted big boobs. Our culture is so fucked up when your 12 and want big boobs already.

  • emily

    How is wearing a padded bra going to make you feel discreet? That’s just going to add to the nothing isn’t even there. There are other ways to fix the problems of developing breasts than to give these kids a padded bra. By seeing another girl with a padded bra and larger looking breasts, it’s only going to cause more body anxiety within their group. If girls start with buying these types of bras, then what’s the next step? Lingerie?
    Society keeps pressuring girls to have this perfect body, but do they need to be sending the message to 7 year olds? Let the kids be kids and not have to worry about wanting bigger breasts.

  • maco

    “I also forgot, high body fat can also cause precocious puberty, which is what I’d put my money on, given the rise in childhood obesity in the last decade or so.”
    One of my aunts once told me that she’d seen some studies saying 105lb is the average weight at which menarche is triggered. I was about that weight and 14 when I hit it. One of my friends (who is overweight) couldn’t believe I was just starting at 14, since she started when she was 9. I’m guessing her being overweight is the reason.
    I still think under 12 is early.

  • Laurelyn

    I’d be pissed at this sexualization of young girls if I didnt buy these bras for myself. I cant buy bras in big girl stores because, of course, if they offered small sizes women would starve themselves to fit in them, so a lot of my clothes come from the childrens section.

  • Amanda

    In discussing the padded bra issue I think that it is important to also bring up the fact that the clothes in general that are being marketed to young girls is inappropriate. Little girls should not be wearing tiny little short shirts or tops where their “cleavage” is showing. At what point are manufacturers going to realize that they are creating an unhealthy environment for young girls and that all of this clothing is forcing our girls to grow up entirely too fast. Let kids be kids. They should be worrying about having fun and playing outside, not whether their private parts are showing because the clothes they are wearing are too mature for their bodies.

  • janet

    “At what point are manufacturers going to realize that they are creating an unhealthy environment for young girls and that all of this clothing is forcing our girls to grow up entirely too fast.”
    Retailers only offer what is most likely to sell at a profit. It is the parents that are buying/allowing children to wear clothes. Modest, age-appropriate clothes are still widely available. I have a 9-year old and have no trouble buying clothes.
    If anything, I think it is nice there are so many choices now. When I was growing up, you were girly (dresses) or a Tom-boy (jeans). I liked dresses, but I also liked swinging from monkey bars so I went with the jeans. I was thrilled the other day to see frilly spandex shorts marketed toward girls who want to wear dresses and swing on monkey bars without showing their underwear. Taken alone, the spandex shorts could be considered too risque for an 8-year old. But it allows more self-expression in a child, which I see as a good thing.
    Likewise, the hip-hugging leather pants and halter tops in the kids section. For some girls, that is how they are. How is it right for them to be forced to wear a polo and khakis because it makes adults less tense? If a girl feels better about herself wearing a padded bra, salwar kameez, or mini skirt, isn’t it wonderful she has those choices?
    Of course, being pushed toward any of those by aggressive marketing is a different issue. In a perfect world, parents would know their children and help them make decisions in their appearance based on the image they want to project and what makes them happy. I do think that happens more often than not.
    I think it is wonderful that even young girls have more options available to them to express who they are and who they want to be. Adults who are bothered by children who dress other than how the adults think they should may be projecting their own issues.
    Every child is unique. Every body is different. Every childhood is filled with different experiences. The more options available for them all, the better.
    In full disclosure, my 9-year old will wear nothing but jeans, loose tee shirts, and polos. We have no trouble finding clothing. Modest clothing is still the norm in the kids department. Exceptions just stand out.

  • Jess

    kultakutri – that is so true! I hate that they make C cup and above bras with padding! There are so many gorgeous bras I want but can’t buy because they have so much padding. My Ds don’t need any padding!!! And Victoria’s Secret is claiming it’s being revolutionary with their new bra that has padding relative to the cup size so that A cups have more and D cups don’t have much. Revolutionary? How about logical!!!!

  • Rachel Nabors

    When I was that age, I was more concerned with catching fish. I didn’t even worry about boobies until I HAD them!

  • Jabes1966

    HEY! An article on feministing I agree with! Who’d have thunk?