This one thing could keep your tween girl in sports

Thanks to Chris Deacon for her excellent journalism in the Sept 6 issue of Today’s Parent. Her article follows!

Studies show that girls start quitting sports in the tween years—this solution might surprise you.

Growing up, Juanita Lee ran track and rowed, but her sport of choice was tennis. She played the game from age six until age 14 when— seemingly overnight— her breasts grew from a 32A to 34DD.

The change immediately set her apart from her more petite, flat-chested opponents and made the teenager extremely self-conscious. She hated the sensation of her breasts moving when she ran on the court and how exposed she felt in her scoop-neck tennis dress whose padded cups only accentuated her size. And because breasts move independently of the body, (both up and down and side to side,) Lee also started experiencing breast pain, an issue she was too embarrassed to discuss with her parents. Not long after, Juanita used a sports injury as an excuse to quit tennis altogether and turned her attention to rowing, where breast movement wasn’t an issue, and running, a sport that—while still painful—meant she could wear baggy t-shirts for coverage.

Lee isn’t the only girl whose breast development has affected their participation in sports. In a 2016 survey of more than 2,000 British girls aged 11 to 18, nearly three-quarters said their breasts got in the way of enjoying sports. According to the study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, when girls hit puberty they start pulling out of athletics and skipping gym class to avoid the pain and embarrassment of breasts that are either too big, too small or —the chief complaint—too bouncy.

It turns out there could be an easy fix—a sports bra. While a given for professional female athletes, this undergarment is often omitted from the equipment list of girls’ sports teams. And while jockstraps are offered to boys for protection and to prevent discomfort caused by excessive movement during exercise, sports bras that serve the same purpose for girls have not been a part of the cultural conversation. In fact, only 10 percent of girls surveyed in the British study had worn one.

So how can a parent navigate the tricky terrain of breast development and sports with their tween? Here are five tips:

Start the conversation early: Your daughter may not need the support of a sports bra yet, but it’s worth tackling the topic early on, before she gets embarrassed about it. If she’s not ready for the discussion in the moment, MaryAnne Gucciardi—whose company, Dragonwing girlgear specializes in performance base-layers such as sports bras and support tops for girls aged 8 to 17, encourages parents to stick with it. “It’s a hard conversation for a parent,” she says, noting that dads in particular, have a hard time with the topic, “but it’s even harder for a child. They don’t know yet what they need. They just know what they’re feeling.”

Be matter of fact: Gucciardi also suggests sticking with the facts when broaching the idea of a sports bra. “You could say something like, “I want you to play your best. I want you to feel comfortable, and have good support to prevent injury and stay healthy and just like boys with a jockstrap for support and to prevent injury, this is what girls wear,’” she says. Explain to you daughter the difference between your average tween bra (which often looks like a sports bra) and the real thing. Most tween bras are made with thin cotton and flimsy straps. A good sports bra, by contrast, has smooth but stretchy fabric that moves as the athlete moves, with straps and a band that stay in place.

Shop it alone: While the odd girl might enjoy looking for a bra with her mom, most don’t, says Gucciardi, so parents should start the process. One idea, she says, is to buy a few different styles of sports bras and support tops and leave them in your daughter’s drawer—while keeping in mind she probably won’t model them for you. “She might have you hand them back and forth until she finds one that she likes,” she says, “Be patient. If you let her control the conversation, then she’ll feel in control of her body.”

Go for fit: Thirteen-year-old Melanie Paulson’s* parents have been helping her shop for sports bras since she started developing breasts in Grade 4, with little success. “I don’t find them very comfortable,” says the avid hockey player, who now shops in the women’s section. But many women’s sport bras are padded which makes breasts look bigger—the last thing most tweens and teens want. And Gucciardi cautions that an improper fit—caused by a bra that’s too big— can lead to back problems. “You could have a bigger bust but a small rib-cage,” she explains, suggesting that parents seek out sports bras that are specifically designed for tweens and teens, and that take this silhouette variation into account so that the fit is precise. Lululemon, Nike and Gucciardi’s brand all carry quality sports bras for this age group. Look for a fit that is snug but not tight with straps that don’t droop or slip. And if you’re buying online, it’s worth taking the time to measure your daughter and refer to the size chart rather than order the size that corresponds to her age. Parents should measure just under the rib cage to get the right fit as opposed to across the chest, and, when the bra is on, be able to fit not more than one finger under the band. The band should be as wide as possible while still being comfortable for your child.

Comfort is key: Gucciardi recommends quality sports bras that use high performance, moisture wicking fabric (that moves the sweat away from the skin) with mesh for coolness and breath-ability. “Girls get super embarrassed when they think they sweat and smell and that people notice it,” she says. Also look for thin, removable pads for coverage and softness. “Nipples showing is another source of embarrassment,” she says. Nipple chafing— especially common with runners— is also an issue. Finally, choose a sports bra that’s seamless and tag-free to prevent irritation.

Now that you’ve got a bra for your daughter, can you really expect it to be the difference between giving up sports and staying in the game? For Juanita Lee, now 27, the answer is—absolutely. “I was kind of a shy kid and I never felt comfortable saying, ”oh, my boobs hurt.” she says. In grade 10, Lee got her first sports bra at the suggestion of her female rugby coach, and she played rugby until the end of high school.

*Name has been changed.

Our Five Favorite Tween Brands – We Bet They’ll be Yours, Too!

Being a mom of a tween-aged girl (that is, an 8-13 year old) can be a challenge, to be sure. That sweet girl you once knew is changing in a lot of ways, and finding out what she really does and doesn’t like. These years are a big part of shaping the woman she’ll become, and your support – however much she thinks she doesn’t need it – is critical.

This is particularly true for active girls, as this is the age when so many of our daughters stop participating in organized sports. The factors contributing to that decline in participation are varied, and as unique as the girls themselves, but one consistently cited reason is a lack of confidence. Confidence in their abilities, their changing body, in possessing a skill set that will take them to the next level.

That’s why we love these brands that focus on tween girls! Each one is focused on inspiring confidence in your favorite girl. From putting her best face forward, from clothing to footwear, stylish bags and of course the BEST athletic gear for girls, these are the tip-top providers of tween products.

CALZICO

Calzico offers fun and functional fashion that inspires confidence! Their cute and versatile age-appropriate clothing for tweens ages 6-14 includes soft reversible tees, dresses, jackets and skirts, so your favorite girl can be confident and comfy from the classroom to the playground!

Calzico’s creations flip, zip, and layer! Their zipskirt (with the removable layer) or the reversible jacket that can be worn four ways mean your favorite tween can create over 20 different looks with just a few pieces. Designing garments with greater versatility, comfort, and function is Calzico’s central focus — so many ways, she’ll have outfits for days!

Founder Shannon Tennyson counts on daughter Callie (the “Cal” in Calzico) to review sketches and provide design, fit and style input. Together, they makes sure every item is well-designed enough to last multiple seasons and provide a variety of different looks. To get their amazing 4-in-one jacket or top-selling zipskirt, visit them online at calzico.com. If you’re not ready to buy just yet, sign up for their updates and receive their free Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist for Tweens, free!

VISIT CALZICO HERE

Dragonwing girlgear

Ready to find the products that will make your daughter strong beneath it all? From the moment she steps out the door to the high-fives after practice, Dragonwing girl gear lets her know that you’re there to support her, all day long!

Dragonwing girlgear founder MaryAnne Gucciardi struggled to find age-appropriate, supportive athletic gear for her daughter. Clothes in the girls’ departments were all fashion-focused and made of lower quality fabrics, not meant for real athletes. Women’s athletic wear didn’t fit and wasn’t age-appropriate. Forced to shop in the boy’s department, everything was ill-fitting. Shopping trips were awkward and sent the subliminal message that being athletic and strong wasn’t feminine.

So MaryAnne set out to design her own solution, a line of performance wear designed for pre-teen and teen girls. No wedgies. No slipping straps. A fit that’s snug. But not tight. Made for the sports they play. She calls it girlgear.

The result was something even greater, that gives girls the freedom and confidence to focus on the competition, skills, and teamwork of the sports they love, empowering them to play – and be – their best. Dragonwing offers not just the ultimate in sports bras, but camis, compression shorts and leggings with good looks that are only surpassed by their performance… just like your unstoppable daughter!

SHOP DRAGONWING HERE

prep skincarePrep Cosmetics

Great skin starts at an early age! Prep Skincare gives your tween a line of age-appropriate and fun cleansers, moisturizers and more to inspire habits that will protect her skin for a lifetime! There are no cutting edge ingredients in PREP’s formulas because at this age, girls just need good tried and true, safe ingredients that won’t cause them harm as their bodies develop and grow.

PREP Cosmetics is on a journey to empower young girls to take care of their skin and their health. She’ll be thankful today to have a beauty routine that is all her own, and even more thankful tomorrow for the positive effects protection from the sun will have on her skin and her confidence.

GET THEIR STARTER KIT, HERE.

PREP’s Chief Medical Officer, Carole Aponte, MD recommends girls use the starter kit every day to keep their healthy skin clean, fresh and protected. Each order comes with their PREP skincare 101 guide, which teaches girls how and when to use each product.

 

Sari Bari handmade productsSari Bari

While Sari Bari most certainly isn’t limited to items that appeal to tweens (those bed covers are AMAZING!), we love their mission and their promise and it’s a great message to share with our daughters.

Their unique products are made in Kolkata, by women exiting the commercial sex trade or who are vulnerable to exploitation or trafficking. The Sari Bari promise doesn’t stop with the job –  they firmly believe that’s not where the freedom journey ends. Holistic care is a high value at Sari Bari, which is why they journey with women as partners in their social support needs as they continue to take courageous steps towards restoration and wholeness.

Watch their video to see them in action:

Ready to check out a unique gift that gives back to the world? Your tween will collect about a million compliments on her Meye Messenger Bag!

Hannah's ShoeboxHannah’s Shoe Box

Your tween girl’s feet may be as big as yours, but that doesn’t mean women’s shoes are appropriate or even comfortable!

Hannah’s Shoebox was created after the store’s owner, a mother, became frustrated with her challenge to find age-appropriate shoes for her then six-year-old daughter who was wearing a size six shoe at that time. Her daughter’s shoe size continued to match her age until she reached age 11. By that time, the challenge to find age-appropriate shoes had become even more difficult. That’s when and why Hannah’s Shoebox was born.

Don’t waste another dime on poorly-made shoes that just don’t meet your daughter’s needs! Hannah’s Shoe Box offer quality shoes in women’s sizes 5-13 that are undeniably cute and age-appropriate for tweens! Every style and occasion is covered, from every day school and uniform shoes to special-occasion, with the boots, wedges and sandals your girl wants.

BROWSE THE GREAT STYLES HERE!

 

So, the more you know, the easier this “parenting-a-tween” thing gets, right? Inspire her confidence in all areas of her life – with these great brands and your support, you know she can take on the world! Be sure to share this post with other moms – they’ll thank you later!

*Money can buy you lots of great Dragonwing gear, but it can’t buy you love! These opinions are solely our own, based on personal knowledge of the above products. These are not affiliate links, and no promotional fees have been paid.

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July 12: Happy Birthday, Kristi Yamaguchi!

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Happy birthday to figure skating star Kristi Yamaguchi! Yamaguchi began figure skating as physical therapy for her club feet (club feet rotate internally at the ankle), but the sport soon became her passion. Initially skating with her pairs partner, Rudy Galindo, she won the gold at the 1988 World Junior Pairs Championship and the 1989 and 1990 U.S. championships. After placing first in the World Junior Championships in singles in 1988, Yamaguchi decided to focus on singles. This endeavor proved incredibly successful; Yamaguchi won the World Championships, Skate America, and the Nations Cup in 1991 and the U.S. Championships, World Championships, and Winter Olympics in 1992. Since then, the figure skater has won the reality program Dancing with the Stars and established the Always Dream Foundation, which aims to help children’s dreams come true. Watch the dramatic performance here

Happy Birthday Cindy Parlow Cone

Happy birthday to Cindy Parlow Cone, three-time NCAA Women’s Soccer Champion and founding member of the Women’s United Soccer Association, former head coach for Portland Thorns FC and in her first year as coach in her first year as head coach of the Portland Thorns, led the Thorns to the NWSL Championship. Parlow was a member of the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic, and 1999 and 2003 Women’s World Cup, teams. Parlow Cone played professionally for the Atlanta Beat for three years and was the Coaching Director of 13-18 year-old girls’ programs at the Triangle United soccer league.  Cindy is a co-founder of Goals for Girls.  Birthday –May 8th.

The “why” of Dragonwing girlgear.

kickstart_bannerPeople often ask me why I am so passionate about sports and girls and I have a simple, important reason – we need this generation of girls, now more than ever, to reach their potential.  Sports participation at any level is one path to actualizing potential –it is established and proven – we don’t need to create a new program or study its benefits.  But social expectations and social media are getting in the way of girls.  When I realized “the underwear experience” could have an impact, I had an aha moment that I could do something about it.

Let’s take Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.  On one level of the pyramid is community or village – we all know and accept that it takes a village to grow a strong confident girl.  We are happier with friends, family, a team, a tribe.  Belonging is important.   Connections give life meaning (Brene Brown).  Sports provide a natural community.

The next level of the pyramid is self-esteem.  Sports build self-esteem in so many ways, such as setting and achieving goals, graciously winning, building resilience, pushing your comfort zone for what you think you can do and then exceeding it – just to name a few. For more on this, check out this TedEx talk by Alisa Herr.

Unfortunately, feelings about breast development are a top reason girls drop out of sports.  According to a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, “three quarters of school-aged girls report breast-related concerns regarding exercise and sports.”   75%!!!  That’s just not acceptable.  Starting and normalizing conversation about body changes can improve this.  Sports programs frequently recommend protective gear for boys, like cups, or compression shorts, but there is no comparable list recommended for girls. At Dragonwing girlgear, we provide girls that list and more.

Having an excellent-fitting, high-performance sports top – whether it is a bra, cami or thermal tee-shirt, that is designed especially for the athletic girl’s figure, can eliminate worries about underwear malfunction.  Embarrassment about changing bodies can alleviate concerns about body image.  At Dragonwing, we strive to free up emotional energy– so girls can focus on their game – and everything else they want to achieve… because when girls are confident, the possibilities are endless.

 

 

 

My Daughter is So Happy! — Early Product Review

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We are super excited to share an early product review of the new Racerback Cami that we launched on Kickstarter.   Sara from Ohio’s daughter loves it — and we think YOU will too.

“For the past year, I have been looking for the perfect cami for my 11- year old daughter.  My daughter is not quite ready for a bra but definitely needed something with more coverage than the cotton cami with a shelf that she has been wearing daily under her shirts.

Recently, I received a sample of the Dragonwing Racerback Cami to trial with my daughter.  I am thrilled to say that I have finally found the perfect cami!!

My daughter has never loved a cami so much!  She tried it on for me and was beaming.  The padding in the cami really made her feel more confident and it looked so nice under her shirt. Some of the features of this cami that we love are:

– The material keeps her cool and dry, so it is perfect for any activity.
– The straps are adjustable, so she will be able to wear it for quite awhile and adjust it as she grows
– The racer back design is great for her posture and looks very sporty.
– The padding can be removed for washing or if less coverage is desired.

My daughter wants to wear this cami every day now, so I have been washing it constantly. Even after 10+ washes, the cami still looks as good as new. I am so excited that these camis are on Kickstarter now. I plan on stocking up and buying more in multiple colors. Thank you for creating such a high quality product that makes my daughter feel confident with her body.

Sincerely,
 Sara
(Mom and Devoted Dragonwing Customer in Ohio)
(Here is the link to copy and paste) http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=bdc62bad8e8c76ee6345a9241&id=2ee2defbf0&e=

“The Most Comfortable Bra Ever”

 

Elise’s daughter plays soccer and volleyball and is already a big fan of our Keyhole Sports Bra. But now she has a new favorite: our seamless Racer Sports Bra for girls. 

“The Racer bra was a huge hit – she said it is the most comfortable bra ever.”

"The most comfortable bra ever" customer review of Racer Sports Bra for girls, teens. Click for more.

Discover the Dragonwing Difference yourself & check out The Racer:

– Super fine yarn and double-layered coverage ensures support, comfort, and coverage.
– Wicking fabric keeps moisture away so you stay cool and confident.
– Shoulder straps provide support and don’t droop.
– Soft, snug bottom band won’t ride up no matter how far you reach, stretch, throw, or run.
– Tag free and seamless so there is no chafing
– Made in the USA.

Sports Headbands 3-for-2 Sale

Sports Headbands Make Great Valentine's Day Gift

This Valentine’s Day, why not give your sports girl a “bouquet” of sports headbands?!

Unlike roses or other flowers, our Game On headband will last through an entire sports season and longer! And they make the perfect Valentine’s Day treat:

– soft & stretchy to keep hair in place
– non-slip thanks to two silicone strips on the inside
– available in 7 colors: red-orange; blue/black; white; midnight blue; sky/white; black/gray; heather gray/black.

Buy any 2 and get a third for FREE when you use promo code LOVE2016.

Don’t wait! This special promotion is only valid through February 14, 2016.

Click for Sports Headbands for Girls