Bras designed for girls growing up fast

This Reuters story is pretty interesting reading. I can only wonder how long it’ll be before there are brands like Nick at Night Lingerie and MTV Hottie Gear and similar, but for now, it’s Sara Lee, of all companies, that appears to be leading in this, um, blossoming new market segment…
NEW YORK (Reuters) – As parents lament that children grow up too quickly, lingerie companies are spotting an opportunity to market bras especially for younger girls.
Companies like Sara Lee Corp., whose brands include Bali, Hanes Her Way and Playtex, and privately held Maidenform Inc. have made a major investment in this area in the past few years.
Indeed, some large department stores have started to train their employees that one of their responsibilities will involve bra fittings for “first timers.”

“They’re either so shy and embarrassed that they’d rather be anywhere but in (the intimate apparel) department, or they’re so proud and enthused about being a grown-up that they choose something totally inappropriate,” said Beverley Hinkson, national bra fitting specialist at JC Penney.
An aside: what a job! I know lots of guys who would be happy to take over that professional responsibility, somehow. 🙂
Hinkson, who has been fitting customers with bras and training sales associates to do the same for the past eight years, said first-time customers are coming in at increasingly younger ages.
“It’s usually their mother’s idea to come in for a fitting,” she added.
Indeed, some girls as young as 6 are starting to develop breasts, said Iris Prager, who has a Ph.D. in health education and oversees the Web site sponsored by Procter & Gamble Co. that’s called, which aims to educate girls about puberty and familiarize them with P&G’s line of feminine products.
While the average age for menstruation has been stable at 12, other signs of puberty, including breast development, are appearing much earlier, Prager explained, referring to a large U.S. study of 17,000 girls.
The study, published in Pediatrics in 1997, found that the average age at which girls first develop breasts has declined to a little over 9 for Caucasian girls, and a little over 8 for African-American girls.
“Different factors, both genetic and environmental, control puberty,” said Dr. Steven Dowshen, a specialist in pediatric endocrinology at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, and chief medical editor of, an online site for parents and their kids.
No one really knows why girls approach puberty at a younger age today than what used to be the norm.
But theorists have come up with such disparate reasons as the increasing incidence of obesity in children, an abundance of hormone-laced food in the average American’s diet and even the influence of mature sexual themes in movies and on television.
Sorry, but Linda and I firmly believe that the hormones fed to animals in our food chain are the primary reason for this change. It’d be easy to test too – just have a control group whose parents only fed them hormone free milk, meat, etc. But that hasn’t happened as far as I know. “The influence of mature sexual themes”? Gimme a break…
Whatever the reason, the medical community agrees that, at the very least, American girls today look more developed at a younger age than they did a decade or so ago.
And they’re shopping for bras.
Sara Lee Branded Apparel, one of the largest manufacturers of bras, started three years ago to respond to this new market.
“When we introduced ‘Barely There’ three years ago, we immediately found it appealed to this whole category of customers,” said Joanne Kaye, director of merchandising at Sara Lee. “This customer is very modest … and not ready to wear the underwire.”
Not to mention that underwire bras aren’t entirely healthy for you either…
To appeal to a young girl’s fashion sense, Sara Lee makes the bras in blue with yellow or pink and green with cranberry, Kaye said.
There is another dynamic driving the demand for bras by girls today that wasn’t as prevalent a generation ago: sports.
“In my daughter’s school, they won’t let you play without a sports bra,” Kaye said. “If you have an 8- or 9-year-old girl starting to develop breast tissue, these bras also have a nice modesty effect.”
Then there are half sizes.
Kaye said this patented system is popular with developing girls whose breasts may not conform to traditional sizing.
Maidenform — an iconic brand whose bra ads in the 1950s and ’60s with slogans like “I dreamed I was a toreador in my Maidenform bra … ” became part of American culture — introduced a version of its “One Fabulous Fit” bra for younger girls in 2001.
But not all companies did so well with this demographic.
Abercrombie & Fitch misjudged the market and introduced sexy lingerie targeted at youngsters last year.
These included thongs decorated with phrases like “Wink Wink” and “Eye Candy” that caused an uproar among parents and child advocacy groups. The company withdrew its line.
Hmmm…. could this be the “influence of more mature sexual themes” that the author was talking about earlier? What a terrible move on the part of A&F, a company that otherwise is a marketing powerhouse.
But with a large selection of modest, functional and affordable bras for young girls, even single fathers are comfortable dropping their pre-teen daughters off at the mall and letting them pick their own.
“We’re prepared for the single dads,” JC Penney’s Hinkson said. “They bring their daughter and say, ‘Please fit her with eight or nine bras and I’ll be back in an hour to pay for it.”‘
Article © 2005 by Reuters Newswire.

26 comments on “Bras designed for girls growing up fast

  1. Who are the dads wanting their daughters to buy EIGHT OR NINE bras? That’s crazy… they barely have breasts and they need that many? Do they not ever do laundry? Something makes me think this comment was thrown in for the influence it would have on purchasing behavior…
    I’m also susprised you didn’t comment on the effects feeding babies formula have on development… some have theorized that the prevalence of formula-feeding in the African-American community is what’s causing the early puberty there; also, the Latino community has one of the lowest rates of both formula feeding AND early puberty. Another reason “breast is best”, perhaps?

  2. I was a very young developer, so to speak, getting my breasts when I was 7. In my case I think it was obesity, along with the hormones that are laced in all meats. I for one am a breastfeeding zealot and agree with the earlier comment. I wish their were more studies done that would show just what happens to the children when parents are uneducated about being “smart” parents. Something that would show the “helpful” doctors, grandparents and media, just what feeding babies formula, and what the average American diet for children is doing to the kids who grow up under these conditions.

  3. Wow I am furious to hear what the previous moms said. Yes I know breast is best…there ARE those of us out here who CANT breastfeed. To me, bonding with my child is MUCH more important than having EXCRUTIATING pain the whole feeding. I could NOT breast feed either of my children and felt completely mortified because of people like YOU who say that it is the only way to go. I got checked to make sure I was feeding right and did everything I could to make it work, it DID NOT work. So don’t just say what is wrong with people like us who can’t breastfeed. Just because we don’t breastfeed doesn’t mean our kids are DOOMED. I was a early developer…my daughter is too. Just genetics.

  4. I don’t feel that the comment above was directed to women who CAN’T breast feed. I’m pretty sure it was directed to the women who CAN but CHOOSE not to for one lame excuse or another.
    Formula was made exactly for women like you. The women who want to breastfeed but CAN’T . I personally have never thought badly of a women who formula feeds when she tried but did not have success. I know it is a challenge to learn to beast feed and there are also some times physical problems. The women I get upset with are women like my friend. She was able to breast feed successfully with no complications no discomfort. The baby was nursing well and gaining weight. Even with all of her success she CHOSE to put the baby on formula. When I asked her why she told me that she felt it was jest more convent (I defiantly disagree with that) She was a stay at home mom in my opinion that is jest an example of one of those lame excuses I was talking about earlier.
    Now she keeps complaining that she doesn’t have money for formula.

  5. “Not to mention that underwire bras aren’t entirely healthy for you either…”
    Healthy or not, it’s something that can’t be helped for women who simply have more breast to hold in. My fiancee sports a DDD bra size and if she doesn’t wear an underwire or better, her back will hurt for a week, not to mention the immediate pain of the weight of the breasts tugging on the skin. And we can’t exactly afford a reduction, so… it’s really our only choice.
    I think marketing these to younger children though is a good idea. As long as they aren’t provacative. What 7 or 8 year old needs to wear full-on lingerie?!?
    Anyways most anything is fine as long as it’s tastefully done I guess is where I’m getting with this.

  6. I think that if you are a mother and your child is asking for a first bra, a padded bra, or new bras, you should be respectful of the fact that it takes a lot of courage to ask for one… so get it for them!!!!

  7. i would like to know why underwire bras are healthy, first off. i would also like to say that i do not agree with the dad dropping off the daughter to get 8 or 9 bras. that is crazy.I was an early bloomer and i only got to get three bras.
    And i only got to pick one of them because my mom was not going to spend that much money on bras. not to say how much the price has gone up for them.

  8. Underwired bras are unhealthy for developing girls because the wire can disturb the growth of the breasts and problems can occur. As far as I know, they are fine for fully-developed women.

  9. Sorry, this might not be that relevant.. but i wana know whether underwire in bras is bad for teen development… is there anyone who could refer to a website because i can’t find it anywhere? thankyou.

  10. Underwire bras do not alway work. I’m 5’4″ and thin but was blessed… maybe a little too much. The bra I am currently wearing is a 36EE and I’m still getting larger! my boobs are growing at such a fast rate that it is hard to find/afford new bras so often. I was wearing a 34DD about a month ago but I noticed that I was spilling over the top of my cups. Before long, I was overflowing out the bottom, through the underwire. Being a college student, I can’t buy new bras too often, so I smashed them in until you could see them plain as day coming out the top of my bra cup and even out the bottom through t-shirts. FInally I HAD to buy something larger. DDD and E cups were too small but EE fit well, although now I think it’s a little snug. It is embarrasing not only because of the excessive overflow, but also because anything I wear is really tight, and I have very pronouced nipples. Big boobs are expensive!

  11. Im 11 and Im as flat as I was when I popped out.everyones teasing me because I dont need a bra and everyoe else in my class is a B or something.What should I do emal me please

  12. I got my first bra aroung age 8 or 9 but didn’t start wearing it everyday till i was 10. I remember how scared and embarassed i was to even mention bras. My mother got me my first bra but when ever i had to get new ones becuase they were too small i was very nervous to ask for whatever reason. Is this strange? and besides I don’t no anyone that would leave a pre-teen girl (under 13) at the mall alone for some stranger to fit them for a bra and then leave! Talk about awkward for the girl!

  13. is it normalto be as flat as a boared at 12 almost 13 years old is therefood these kids are eating my moms a 34 36c but my grandparents are both D cups?? i hate biengflat wha do i do?

  14. Iola–I went into 8th grade totally flat and came out a 32DD. Sometime it happens later that’s all.

  15. Aisling Ryan – I’m 11 too. I can fit into a sports bra although probably only 30% of my class at school can actually fit into a bra. (my school is an all girls school) Your time will come when you sprout breasts but at the moment there is really nothing you can do. Your friends are massive jerks if they tease you. Just say to them “well theres nothing I can do about so shut the f**k up and leave me alone, losers” 😀 😀 😀

  16. it’s funny how everyone has a problem of their own-big,small,none. .sheesh!
    well i’m almost 18 and my body STILL hasn’t conformed to the traditonal progress one goes through. i’m short, not even close to being generously endowed in my chest area. although my immediate family is at a good stand.
    Alright i admit, i’ve never been to keen at sports. . is this the cause?? my younger sister is growing taller and enviously sporting a good-to-be figure! what is WRONG with me. . . how grave of a danger am I in.
    I’ve heard of late growths. is there a possibility of late growth . . i mean im 17+. .HOW late can it be??!!pls reply

  17. im 13 . almost 14 actually and i am still flat as a board i barely fit A32 my frens are like B34 and they’re as slim as i am
    tell me what to do please email me

  18. Here’s a question. How do you tell if it’s pectoral muscles or breast tissue? My 9yo dd has cleavage, but she is a competitive gymnast training 10+ hours a week. Most of the class appears to have “something” but is it muscle or breast?
    Oh, and when your kid does sports 6+ days a week of one sort or another, I can see how having several pairs would be helpful. They get sweaty! Do people only have 3 pairs of undies?

  19. hey i’m 16 and as developed as a five year old girl- i don’t have anything . i don’t need a bra and you won’t be able to see anything if you look at me. i did get my period at 12. is s/t wrong with me?

  20. Patience, Sharon. Sometimes girls develop quite young, and other times it can be years later, even half-way through their teens, and suddenly your shape changes.

  21. It’s funny reading all this stuff…
    Still:hormones and genetics are both problems.
    For hormones…huh…estrogen(or progestrogen, I don’t remember which one was 🙁 ) is responsible for the breast growth.If you have high level of estrogen in your blood your boobs will grow faster and bigger.It also make you approach puberty younger.Eating hormone-filled food(if I can say so…)rises hormone level:and most of the injected hormones are ESTROGENS as I have heard recently.
    About genetics:they just set how the embrion shoud grow.But this does not mean if “mother has big breasts(or grandmother etc.),I will too!”.So genetics cannot be responsible for this at all.
    I suggest it’s better not to eat food from shops or just try to eat it when we have nothing else to.My family does not eat it and we have no such problems.

  22. For those who are flat as a pancake- don’t worry! I got my first proper bra at 11, but then didn’t grow for aaaages and started to feel pretty titchy next to my g cup friend. But mine weren’t the smallest. And now they are growing! Hardly anybody has non existent boobage forever!
    Feel free to email me with any girlie worries! – friendly teen.

  23. I guess the food you eat really has an impact on your breast size. I grew normally and developed moderately, but some of my friends developed fast! I don’t really blame the food and other stuff though. Maybe your body just wants to grow up faster.

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