"My daughter was adopted from Ethiopia when she was 13½…she was always wearing the same yellow sweatshirt to cover her chest."
Can you tell us a little bit about you?
I’m from Iowa. I have two sisters and one brother and I’m a designer.
How soon did you start to develop?
I developed really early like 3rd grade and by the time I was in fourth grade I needed a bra.
Do you remember what your first bra was like?
I don’t remember my first bra. I do know that I was very embarrassed and uncomfortable to shop for bras. We used to go to Kmart and buy bras for my great-aunt, so that’s probably where we got my first one. I was always overwhelmed by the selection of bras there and how big they looked.
How did that affect you during your adolescent years?
I was always the biggest chested girl in school. I went to a catholic high school and we had to wear white shirts. I was uncomfortable and embarrassed to be wearing a bra in 4th grade so even during the warmest weather I would wear a sweater so you couldn’t tell. My sister and brothers used to make fun of me for my big breasts.
Did you play sports?
Yes, and I had a huge problem with that. My mom wasn’t any help either. I don’t think it’s because she didn’t care. She just didn’t understand so, for her, it wasn’t a big issue like it was for me. I couldn’t find a sports bra over a C cup. When I played sports I would wear at least 3 bras. I didn’t let it stop me from playing but it was always uncomfortable. I think that’s why I have shoulder pain now because I was never supported properly.
Did you have a particular role model that inspired your confidence?
I didn’t really have anyone that I looked up to. I have always been confident despite my breast struggles. My mom did share some wisdom that I have always held on to. She said that if a girl was mean to me it was because she was jealous of me. If a boy was mean to me it was because he liked me. So as a kid I honestly felt bad if someone was mean to me and I would say a prayer for them.
Tell us about your family.
I have an amazing husband that I have been married to for nine years. We adopted two children about four years ago. I have the cutest nine year old boy, and I have a 16 year old daughter.
Do you ever notice your daughter struggling with confidence?
Yes! A lot. My daughter was adopted from Ethiopia when she was 13.5 yrs old. And when I first met her, I felt there was a kindred spirit because she was always wearing the same yellow sweatshirt to cover her chest. It’s odd for girls there to have a full bust because everyone is so malnourished and thin. They usually don’t develop and there definitely aren’t any bras found there. She didn’t come home with us after the first visit. I knew I would be coming back a month later and I wanted to bring her a bra. At that point I struggled finding her a bra because I had never been fit to the right bra. So I didn’t really know where to begin.
Did you end up finding a bra?
I looked high and low for something I thought would fit. I basically guessed on a size from a department store. It wasn’t the right size and didn’t help her much.
What was it like taking your daughter bra shopping?
The first time I took her bra shopping was a terrible experience. I took her to a local department store, nothing fit, and she was upset the whole time. She was so embarrassed and started asking me to get her a breast reduction. She thought she was fat because no one else in her class was developed.
The second time I had her fit totally changed her world. Finding a person that is knowledgeable about bras and sensitive too is priceless. I got fit as well. It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad we did it together.
What changes did you notice in her because of the fitting?
Her confidence has improved 100%. Since then she has not mentioned wanting a reduction. She went to only wearing sweatshirts to wearing t-shirts and tank tops! She even wears swim suits now because you can buy them in the right bra size. I can’t say enough about how it’s changed her confidence. She also thinks it’s cute because we bought matching bras in our own size.
Is there anything you do to help your kids feel confident?
It’s important to me that they are empowered to make up their own minds. I give different choices and allow them to make up their own minds. Then I give them a lot of positive feedback. I also don’t allow my kids to watch mainstream TV or read many magazines. I don’t want them influenced by what the media says is beautiful or perfect. We are all beautiful.