Clothing Answers

Should a 12 year old wear a bra?

If a twelve-year-old has reasonably well-developed breasts, or feels the need to wear a bra for comfort or for fashion, then there's no real reason she shouldn't wear one.

There's no real reason why she should, either. The shape, size or general development of her breastw won't alter with or without a bra, no matter what bra manufacturers say.

There are reasons why she shouldn't: they're expensive, it's a nuisance to find properly-fitting ones, and - above all - they're uncomfortable. Even the ones advertised as comfortable: in reality, bras must be firmly (read, tightly) fitted in order to stay on properly.

Most women wear bras because (a) other women expect them to, (b) they don't want their nipples showing through their clothes (because other women don't like that), (c) bras look pretty on models (but never look like that on real people*), and (d) they are taught their breasts will sag if they don't wear a bra.**

*On real people, brassieres must fit more tightly than models wear them for advertising, otherwise they'll ride up or shift around. If you ever get the opportunity to see a lingerie photo shoot, look behind the models - the bras are closed at the back with extra fabric and pins, so they don't make the flesh bulge around them - which it will in real life, no matter what the wearer does, unless she's practically skeletal. For the same reason, shoulder straps are fastened so loosely for photos that they'd fall off the shoulders if the girls really wore them that way.

**The only time this applies is in late pregnancy and for a few weeks after giving birth - from the time the breasts begin to swell until they return to normal size, or slightly larger than pre-pregnancy size. Wearing a bra then is important, especially for comfort, but also to keep the tissues from overstretching under the weight of breasts in milk-production mode. Breast-feeding, incidentally, helps breasts regain their former shape, just as - because it burns a lot of energy - it helps women lose any extra weight gained in pregnancy.
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