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Should I Make My Daughter Wear a Bra?

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Can we agree that moms of boys don’t have as many awkward body conversations as moms of girls? Boys just seem easier when it comes to this kind of stuff. One of the first tricky questions for moms of girls is the bra question: “Should I make my daughter wear a bra?” Recently, my friend Jenny had to make a 9 p.m. shopping trip to Target to buy her daughter a bra after her husband refused to let the 9-year-old leave the house ever again without one.

I asked Jenny why and, long story short, dad said he realized it was time. He didn’t want anyone looking at his daughter “that way.” This made me wonder—who usually launches this conversation? I decided to go to social media to ask: “Who started the bra discussion in your house? You, your daughter, or her father?” Hold onto your hats. I got some great responses.

Here’s what they said.

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent and potentially mortified daughters.)

Carrie: “Me! Get those boobs in a bra!”

Michelle: “My teeny daughter asked for a bra in first grade! She got a bunch from Santa in third grade. She said it was the best Christmas ever!”

Author note: I do not like thinking about Santa’s elves sewing bras.

Elizabeth: “My daughter is seven and keeps begging me for a training bra. She said all the girls in her class are wearing them. I said no.” 

Christa: “This post makes me so happy I have three boys!”

And my favorite: Lauren said, “It was me and her.” And right below was Lauren’s husband’s comment: “What? She’s wearing a bra?”

Whether it was because of your prompting, your daughter begging for one, or her father threatening to send her to an all-girls boarding school, here are three tips to help you accompany your daughter into the bra phase with dignity and respect.

Respect her comfort level.

You might be open and comfortable with the language that comes with puberty, but you’ve had a few decades to get used to it. My late-night-Target friend, Jenny, said that a year into bra-life, her daughter, Alyssa, still isn’t comfortable saying the word “bra.” When she asked for a new one, Alyssa said, “I need another tan ‘b-word.’” When Jenny didn’t pick up the cues, Alyssa just grabbed the strap and said, “This!” She also wore a fleece in 85-degree weather because she didn’t want her friends to know she had a bra on. Coming from a girl who took a while to get comfortable talking about her body, have the tough conversations, but don’t force them. She will open up on her time.

Pick your battles.

Maybe instead of “Should I make my daughter wear a bra?” you’re wondering “Should I refuse to let her wear a bra?” Maybe your daughter is the girl who doesn’t need a bra but desperately wants to wear one. If your daughter is a late bloomer and all her friends are wearing bras, ask yourself why you’re making her wait and if it’s really that important. If it is, hold your ground. You know your kid best. But if it’s just about a character-building opportunity, let her have this one. There really are plenty more character-building opportunities on the way

Remind her she is beautiful.

These years can be pretty brutal, but with your help, your daughter can grow in her self-respect and self-esteem. Remind her that she is beautiful because of who she is in her heart and mind, not because of how she looks or what she wears (on top or underneath). I remember being very aware of body types and feeling more insecure than ever once I started wearing a bra. I mean we literally start measuring ourselves against one another. So the more you can build her confidence outside of her appearance, the better. There is definitely some joke here about support, but I’ll leave that to your imagination and just say that your little girl is blessed to have a mom like you to walk with her into womanhood.

Share your pro-tips for making it through these awkward moments with daughters.


“What’s your favorite thing about your body?”

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