June 12, 2013

My First Bra - My Gateway Apparel to Immorality

The inspiration for this post is Mama Kat. As soon as I read the prompt, I was taken back to those awkward pre-teen years, when I had one foot in tomboyhood, and one foot headed toward discovering what it meant to live with a new, more female, silhouette (and the attention I received from these changes in my body). It was hell.

Write a post inspired by the word: bra

I know that, as a fifth grader, I wanted a bra, or at least I loved the idea of having one. Not that I wanted the breasts to go along with it, of course. Breasts meant attention from boys and a change in the way they treated the tomboy Kim - and I was having none of that. It meant the end of tackle football, and not being chosen as quickly for wiffle ball and kickball teams. A bra made me a girly girl - at that age, equally icky and alluring to me. 

Growing up, my mother did not respect my boundaries of privacy. You know when you and your female classmates get segregated in a classroom and the lights are lowered for the video about the birds and the bees? After school, you come home with a sample of feminine hygiene products, and you go into your room and consider the mysteries of menstruation and the magic of it all? 

It was my mom who, grabbing the pink-wrapped bundle of embarrassment and waving it around the living room, announced to my adult brother, sister-in-law, and my younger brother, "Look who learned about being on the rag today!" 

I guess I should be glad that she didn't do a repeat performance at Sunday dinner, in front of all of my brothers and their wives.

A similar announcement was made when I got my first training bra. "Look, Kim's titties are growing - she needs a bra!"

Why do they call it a training bra? I've been wearing a bra for decades now, and my breasts still don't do tricks. The only lesson they've learned is about the unwavering power of gravity. 

I figure in another decade, I will be able to use double-sided tape to attach a  Clorox Wipe directly to each nipple and clean the kitchen countertops.

Though that first bra (probably from Sears) was little more than a cropped undershirt with adjustable straps (and that tiny bow between the cups), it was a big deal to me. It was a tangible sign that I was part of the group, the circle of life (and all that other Kum Ba Yah shit)  - that I was celebrating the rite of passage from childhood into the mysteries of being female. It meant I was growing up, that I would soon be a teenager - and would have more freedom, more responsibilities - and the possibility of having a boyfriend. 

Coincidentally, this is when my mom started referring to me as "the slut".

It's an epidemic - slutty ten-year olds. I can affirm that the only thing I wanted to ride at that age was my bike.

My mom was sure I was just one step away from an orgy, or of becoming a streetwalker. She limited my free time - I couldn't hang out with girls, because we were all sluts. I couldn't hang out with boys, because they "couldn't keep it in their pants". She complained about my clothing being too revealing - clothing that she purchased for me. I was belittled and insulted and made to feel ashamed of the natural changes that were occurring in my body.

I don't know what kind of crazy shit was going on in her head (or what occurred in HER childhood), but she brought it all out for me. And it got worse during my adolescence - it was a horrific time in my life.

The first time I kissed a boy (at 13), she almost drove me to the ER to see if I had had sex. Instead, she beat me with my majorette baton until I was black and blue.

I endured her abuse and graphic descriptions and sat silently through her accusations and tirades. She went through my drawers and purse and read my diary. When she found Tic Tacs in my purse when I was in high school, she was sure they were birth control pills.

I got married at 18 so I could get out of that house.

When I had my daughters, I knew that I was not going to repeat my mother's behavior. By the time I was ten, I had a long list of things I would not do or say if I ever had children. 

Although I had no role model on which to base my behavior (and was certainly too isolated and emotionally stunted to ask anyone) - I knew I could do better.

I guess you'd have to ask Shannon and Erin if I did okay.

Shannon called last week - she had just bought Jordyn her first training bra. She's only nine, she's so young (is it due to the hormones in the meat?). Shannon said Jordyn was proudly modeling her new apparel. Though I'd like her to stay a little girl for a bit longer, it's Jordyn's turn to navigate the journey into pre-teen life, adolescence and adulthood.

I think she's off to a good start.


  1. Good grief, Kim. You deserve a Purple Heart for surviving THAT war.

    It sounds like you broke the cycle. You have two great daughters, a wonderful son (and sons ache for a "breakin'" so if you haven't beat him, you're eligible for the "mother of the year" award...).

    The clorox wipes on the nipples--hilarious!

    You might think of reworking this a bit and sending it in to NYMB on First Times...(your first bra). Then you could segue into present day bras.

    This gave me a much-needed laugh this evening. Thanks, Kim.

  2. Holy smokes! I can't ever imagine that kind of name calling at ANY age...especially from your own mother. And physical abuse on top of that? I think it's pretty darn amazing you were able to stop that cycle with your kids!

  3. Kim, you survived your mom's mental illness and you rose above it. I'll bet your girls will attest to to your badge of motherhood. That Clorox clean up method is a hoot. I know of what you speak.

  4. It's a shame you had such an insensitive and abusive mother but glad you made a list of things NOT to do. That's very say you got married just to get out of the house. I do not like bras, never did and certainly was never excited about getting my first! At least I was spared the big announcement.

  5. Wow, Kim! You certainly went through it. You know what though? Jordyn is having a much more peaceful existence because you raised your daughters with loving care...and you should be so proud of that. Blessings to you, girl!!! - Dianne at Hot Mess Princess

  6. Wow! I just moved you up another notch on my "amazing women" list! All that you had to endure and look how you have not only survived and flourished, you've broken the cycle and had the courage to share this. Do you have any idea how many women could be touched by this story, and be made to feel connected? I agree with Sioux! It made my heart ache to read, but happy to know where you are today! Kudos, great post!

  7. You had me at Clorox wipes... and what a poignant story of resilience.

  8. I sympathize, my grandmother was much the same, and when I would see her I would get the tirade of accusations. Lucky for me my mom, having left home at 15 to escape the same treatment, did her best to get between us and protect me from the worst of it.

  9. Your lack of a role model made you into an excellent one for your girls. There's a bit of silver lining out of a crappy situation.

    I saw that stupid film in 5th grade. Our school nurse showed it to us while the boys had a "talk" with the gym teacher.

  10. Negative examples seem to always leave the biggest impressions, sadly. Good on you for moving forward instead of dwelling on her horribleness.

  11. Ough I am so sorry about your bad experience dear :( I am glad you make it out of the house. I am sorry to say this but I think your mom is a psycho. She's imagining things that not real and had this negative obsession towards teenager like you were. Shame on her :(

  12. My mother had similar experiences with her father.. he wasn't so crass, but he definitely had some "issues" with her coming of age and would call her some awful, awful names and go at her with the belt.

    I don't even know what to say except that, she, too, vowed to be a different kind of parent and my upbringing was blessedly different!

  13. Yikes! At least you knew what NOT to do with your children!

  14. I'm so sorry you had to endure so much pain at the hands of your mom. This is incredibly brave and courageous of you to share.


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