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.

Navigating the Child to Tween to Teen Bra Journey with Ease

If you’re anything like me then you have absolutely NO recollection of your first bra-buying experience as a tween 30 years ago. I wish I remembered it as being either a horrific or a pleasant experience because then I’d at least have had a starting point at which to get my daughter comfortable with the topic of wearing a bra. But, no – I had nothing. Not a single point of reference from which to start. Add to that the fact that my daughter is strong-willed and opinionated (not in a bad way, but prominent traits none-the-less) and I was literally at a loss of where and how to start this process.

Enter Dragonwing girlgear. Dragonwing offers a nice progression of undergarments for girls passing from child to tween to teen. Following is an outline of a progression that might work for your daughters.

Un-Tee cami sports top (camisole with inner shelf bra) in 7 colorsI started my process perusing the undergarment sections of stores like Target and Old Navy. I was determined to have my 11-year old wear age-appropriate undergarments that she would still be comfortable being in around her friends and teammates if that situation arose. While I’m sure we could have found acceptable solutions at those stores, I knew that my daughter was also VERY shy and going to a store and picking through racks of bras was not going to be her cup of tea so I bought a bunch and had her try them on at home. She hated how they stopped in the middle of her rib cage and refused to wear them because they didn’t “go all the way down” to her waist. So began my search for a full-length top with a built-in bra. I measured my daughter and started my online shopping research. While on Amazon I bumped into Dragonwing and, as I usually do, I went straight to the main Dragonwing website instead of purchasing through Amazon. I find the main websites have a larger selection of products so I always start there, and then depending on prices and options I may purchase from Amazon if there’s free shipping. I was pleasantly surprised to find both at Dragonwing – free shipping and a larger selection than was on Amazon. A win-win.

The first bra that caught my eyes was the Un-Tee Sports-Cami. It was PERFECT! Not only did it “go all the way down” but it also had a built in shelf-bra that functioned as more than just a second layer of fabric (which is what most cami’s have and they’re useless). It was of a very high quality and after learning more about them I came to understand that some girls can wear these all the way up through 7th or 8th grade!
This bra gave my daughter the confidence to wear it without her belly being “exposed” and got her used to the idea of a bra that cuts across your rib cage – because we all know that’s just a fact…bras stop below your breasts.
She’s been wearing these Un-Tees for over a year now and they’ve been washed a million times. They’ve been a wonderful first bra experience for my daughter.

half-teeAbout six months into her wearing the Un-Tees, I dropped some of the Half Tee Sports Tops into her drawer. The Half Tee is essentially the inside layer of the Un-Tee Sports Camis and they fit exactly the same. I figured that once my daughter was used to wearing the Un-Tee she might migrate easily to the Half Tee and she totally did! Before I knew it she was wearing them all the time – even beneath her gymnastics leotards and I was dreading that conversation because most of the sports bras girls wore under their leotards were uncomfortable to her.

the-keyhole-white-frontAnd, while we’re still on this bra journey together, I am finally comfortable with our path and that my daughter will have a pleasant experience. There are so many other, more important things I want to focus on with my daughter that I don’t want things like wearing a bra to muddy the waters! I’m actually looking forward to her next bra steps – which I’m sure will include either the School to Sport Bra or the Keyhole Sports Bra – and while I don’t know if she’ll remember this experience 30 years from now, I AM confident that Dragonwing has had a very positive impact on my daughter’s life and well-being.
Here’s to you and your daughter starting your journey! Hopefully this was helpful.

Contributed by customer Naomi Marr14199296_10209347712106579_1201097066114495733_n

“The Only Sports Bra My Daughter Will Wear”

 

We love customer feedback of all kinds — it helps us make the best fitting, best performing girls athletic wear possible. And we especially love to hear that girls love the comfort, performance, and fit of their Dragonwing girlgear.

Vicki wrote to say that the Half Tee Sports Top is “the only sports bra my daughter will wear. She loves that it is soft and lower, so she can wear it to all her games knowing that she is covered!!”

Super soft and comfortable, the Half-Tee is perfect under everyday school clothes and sports jerseys, especially ones with lower cut or scooped arm holes, like basketball, lacrosse, or track. We also hear that lots of girls wear these sports bras under their pajama tops — they’re THAT comfortable!

Customer review: "only girls sports bra my daughter will wear" Click for teen sports bras, training bras

Black Friday Deal on Girls’ Sports Bras

We’ve got a terrific Black Friday deal on our best-selling sports bras for girls — and you don’t have to wait until Friday to enjoy it! Wouldn’t you rather spend the time enjoying your family — and delicious Thanksgiving left-overs?!

Buy 2 Dragonwing bras for girls, get 1 more free with promo code 3BRAS. Shop here

From now through Sunday, November 29, buy any 2 of our bras — The Racer, Keyhole, School to Sport, Half-Tee, or Mesh Racer — and get a third bra* absolutely FREE!

Promo Code = 3BRAS

As always, shipping is free. We’re committed to girls getting the perfect fit, so take a moment to measure and check the size chart. We know girls of all ages come is all sizes and shapes, so our sizes are based on measurements, not on age.

 

* Put any three bras into your shopping cart and apply promo code 3BRAS to purchase and receive the lowest-priced bra absolutely free. Offer good through 11/29/15 only.

Hiking, Camping & Rock Climbing (oh my!)

The first week of July was the best of the summer yet!

My sister Savannah had a horse show last week. My family and I camped at the show in our camper for the whole week!

While we were there, we swam until our fingers turned into raisins. Later, we walked around the town and, of course, watched her show. After the show, we had one more day before we had to leave.

On that last day, we were daring (and maybe a bit crazy) and took a hike with nothing! It wasn’t a smart decision on our part but luckily it was only a half mile. My Dragonwing Half-Tee Sports Top was great under my tank top.

My Dragonwing Half-Tee Sports Top was great for my July hike in the mountains.

On 4th of July weekend, our family decided to go hiking again and be prepared. This time, it was a four-mile hike, and we ventured off into another trail once we finished the first one. That night, we watched fireworks and all had the best sleep ever.

Madi rock climbing

During our trip, I was away from rock climbing for a week, and I’m so glad to have started back up again. We started the week with hangboard and a big workout.

This is a great summer already! What have YOU been doing?

 

Stock up on Summer Camp Essentials

Summer Camp Essentials to Pack for Active Girl

Is your sports girl heading off to camp this summer? Dragonwing makes packing for summer camp easy!

Stock up on essential base layers that will keep her comfortable, cool, and confident all summer long.

• four-way stretch, moisture-wicking fabric for a cool, perfect fit
anti-microbial & odor resistant even in hot, humid weather
• tag-free design and flat seams for chafe-free comfort
• smooth, light support shorts & leggings with a wedgie-free fit
• fun, stylish, age-appropriate designs for girls, ages 8-17

Whether she’s at day camp, a week-long sports camp, or overnight camp for a month (or more!), Dragonwing will provide comfort, coverage (especially helpful for changing in cabins or locker room), and style. Some of our favorites with tweens and teens:

HALF-TEE SPORTS TOP: ideal for girls who comfort and coverage, the Half-Tee great under tees, tank tops, and jerseys every day.

Half Tee Sports Top for girls great first bra

RACER SPORTS BRA: our best-selling girls’ sports bra, the Racer’s super fine yarn and double-layered coverage ensures support, comfort, and coverage.

Racer sports bra for teen, tween girl

 

UN-DEE LIGHT COMPRESSION SPANDEX SHORTS: super comfortable with a wedgie-free fit, the Un-Dee comes in three styles: low-rise, mini (3″ inseam), and regular (5.5″ inseam). Lots of great colors, too!

 

Un-Dee compression Spandex shorts for girls in 3 styles

Review: Tween Loves Half-Tee Sports Top

We love getting positive reviews from girls — from pre-teen and tween to teens — who love our girlgear.

 

 

tween girl feels like she can do anything in Dragonwing half tee sports topVicki is a fellow sports mom and entrepreneur, the founder of Throw Like A Girl sporty apparel for girls who love  sports. Her daughter, age 11, loves her super-comfortable Half Tee Sports Top.

“She says she feels like she can do anything in it!”

To which we enthusiastically respond, “She can!”