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.

“Does New Tech Mean More Comfort?”

Check out this new video discussing the science behind sports bras. We are doing this for girls ages 8 to 17 years old. Please check out Dragonwing girlgear. Girls can be in every shape and size from AA to DDD and more. We are working to make sure their bras fit well so they can focus on the skill building fun of sports and not worry about their changing bodies, discomfort from bad fit, or bras malfunctioning. 

This Sports Headband Really Won’t Slip!

Three more months of school! I can hardly believe I will be a freshman next year. I’m already really excited for high school and connecting with more people. Sadly only one of my friends is going to the same high school as me but, that means I get to make some new friends.

Another great thing that will happen in high school is that my sister will be able to drive, which means I won’t be late to rock climbing (at least, less often I hope!)

Getting back into rock climbing after my concussion has been going great. We’ve been preparing for rope season by practicing falls. Yes, we actually practice falls! When we practice for falls, we climb up the wall and then fall over and over again.

Teen Ambassador Madi rock climbing at gym

During recent practices, I’ve been wearing my Dragonwing Stay in Place Mini Headband, and it didn’t slip off my head once! I totally recommend this sports headband to every athletic girl. I still love my Dragonwing sports bras, too. Here’s a picture of me when my Racer Sports Bra arrived!

Madi was all smiles when her Racer girls sports bra arrived

We’ve also been working on our first attempt-best attempt by “onsighting” routes. Onsighting is when you make a clean ascent without prior knowledge of the route or problem. I finally sent my first 11+ project on lead bottom to top — with only a little bloody nick on knuckle. Success!

Before break our middle school had an award assembly, and I was named to the honor roll! Working my butt off to catch up with assignments after my concussion paid off. And seeing the smiles on my parents’ faces was great!

 

Girls Sports Bras for a Cause

 

We’ve been amazed by the response to our request for donations of sports bras for girls in India who are part of Goals for Girls‘ initiative.

But we’re just blown away by the efforts of Zoe, a 12-year old, soccer-loving girl from New York state, who took our idea and ran with it. As part of her bat mitzvah preparation, she’s collected nearly 100 clean, gently-used sports bras already and is aiming even higher!

girls high school soccer teams have donated 76 sports bras thanks to Zoe C.
The girls’ varsity soccer teams of the Fayetteville-Manlius and the Jamesville-Dewitt schools (NY) donated 76 gently-used sports bras to Goals for Girls, helping needy girls stay active. Inspired by Dragonwing girlgear, the donation drive was the project of 12-year-old Zoe C.

We pleased to introduce you to this girl-empowering girl:

How did you hear about the Dragonwing campaign to collect bras for Goals for Girls?

I read about the Dragonwing campaign in Real Simple magazine and thought it would be a great mitzvah project. My Mom and I did some online research and came up with the idea of “Bras for a Cause.”

Why did you choose sports bra donations as your bat mitzvah project? 

I love soccer, and I want to help other girls stay in the game and not have to stop playing because they don’t have the right equipment. Donating a sports bra is something that’s really simple that all girls and women can help with. It doesn’t involve people spending money; they just have to look through their own drawers.

My grandparents recently traveled to India and we studied India in school, so when I saw that Goals for Girls’ next trip was to India, I was even more excited to help.

What’s your goal of how many sports bras you’ll collect?

At first, my goal was to collect 100 bras, but I’ve already reached 76 by asking the girls’ soccer teams from my area. Now I’m hoping to get at least 200. I’ve four women’s college soccer teams respond to my email request and agree to help me. So now 100 seems too easy.

What sports do you play? What do you like about playing sports?

I play soccer and basketball, and I’m going to try volleyball soon.
I love soccer because I love being part of a team and working together. I like that it’s fast paced and things can change quickly. I also love that you get to be aggressive.

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If you’d like to donate, send your clean, gently-used sports bra(s) — any size, brand, or color — to:

Goals for Girls/Dragonwing girlgear
510 Meadowmont Village Circle, #188
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

School to Sports Bra for Girls is Game Changer

I’m so excited to introduce our new School to Sport Bra! I think it’ll be a game changer for active girls everywhere.

With this super comfortable bra, there’s no need to change your bra or camisole before sports. Girls can transition right from school clothes to sports uniform or workout jersey!

New School to Sports bra, training bra, bralette for girls makes great training bra

 

Active girls will LOVE the School to Sport because:

–  Four-way stretch and sweat-wicking fabric is super soft and comfortable.
–  Longer coverage provides modesty under open armhole jerseys — like basketball and lacrosse.
–  Silver-infused mesh at sides, back, & front controls odor-causing bacteria and keeps girls cool and dry.
–  Adjustable straps provide support without digging or drooping.
–  Soft bottom band stays securely in place – no riding up or digging in.
–  High tech fabric and made-for-girls design provides sports bra comfort and support all day long.

The School to Sport Bra is great for girls of every age. It’s the perfect first bra or training bra for girls. And it’s an excellent bra for an older girl looking for support and added coverage under a loose uniform. The double-layered coverage is smooth and light. There’s no padding or — heaven forbid — underwire. And it doesn’t scream “bra!” like some bras that are marketed to girls. It’s the perfect athletic top– designed for fit and performance.

Like all Dragonwing girlgear, the School to Sport Bra  empowers girls in sports and in life!

Boxes of Donated Sports Bras for Girls!

 

Earlier this month, we put out a call for donations of clean, gently-used sports bras for needy girls taking part in Goals for Girls wellness and education programs in India. The response from the Dragonwing girlgear community has been terrific. With each envelope or box that arrives, we are so grateful for and humbled by your generosity.

The remarkable women at Ladies Only Sports, a terrific family-owned business for active women of all shapes and sizes (check them out!), sent a big box of 30 brand new sports bras!

Thank you Ladies Only Sports for donating a box of sports bras to help keep girls in the game!

As I’ve said many times, a girl’s sports bra can mean the difference between sitting on the sidelines and being able to play. Each of these donated sports bras empowers a girl to get in — and stay in — the game and reap the many benefits that sports participation brings. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

If you’d like to donate, here’s the information:

To help, please donate a clean, gently-used sports bra (any size, brand, or color) to:

Goals for Girls/Dragonwing
510 Meadowmont Village Circle, #188
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

Include your name and email address in the package with the donated bra(s). As a token of our thanks, we’ll send you a promo code good for $5 off your next Dragonwing purchase.

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

Girl’s Keyhole Bra = Comfort, Confidence

review Dragonwing sports bra: fashionable comfort for young girlWe know that girls of all ages come in all shapes and sizes. And we know that girls love to play, whether on the playground or on a competitive playing field. Sadly and far too often, girls drop out of sports and start becoming less active when their bodies start to develop.

In a recent review of our Keyhole Sports Bra, blogger Chloe M. recounted her young daughter’s experience:

My little 8-year-old loves her sports… however, her weight, size, and now developing body was making it hard for her to be comfortable when she played.
The Keyhole Sports Bra changed everything and provided her with fashionable comfort for everyday use.

 

The first day she wore the new bra she said she felt like she was years younger again. No discomfort.

 

Her friends in the locker room even commented on how cute it looked and asked where to get one.

 

We LOVE hearing how Dragonwing girlgear boosts girls’ confidence, empowering them to be the strong, active, fun-loving kids they are! Read Chloe’s full review on her blog, Reviews by Clo.

Tell us how Dragonwing has made a difference for YOU and we may feature you in an upcoming blog post.

 

Amazing Woman, Amazing Messages

In the past few months, I’ve been able to work with and be exposed to some amazing women. As part of my leadership class, I had the opportunity to interview the head of a local independent school. She was the first woman leader at the school! She also played collegiate level volleyball and is now a coach. I wanted to get her take on all things: from her story, to leadership, to some advice for girls and women.

A few quotes from our conversation that stood out to me were:

1. “Face the beast. And then conquer it. I would like to see more girls do that. These days, find whatever that subject is that’s hard, don’t run from it, face it and conquer it. You’re more equipped than you think you are.”

My interviewee was talking specifically about how she almost failed her college Spanish class, but, this lesson is applicable to everybody. Whether it’s a teacher, a school subject, a coach, a tough sports play, a boss, anything; rise up and fight through it. Women, and people in general, wouldn’t be where they are today if they ran from their challenges.

2. “I think everyone should have a little butterflies. Butterflies are normal. And embrace the butterflies.”

Don’t be afraid to be afraid. Harness your fear and run with it. Get excited about having butterflies, and use them to do and play your best. (You can also use Dragonwing to help you feel more confident about your sports-related butterflies!!)

3. “I shouldn’t have to fight to be non-girly. I’m a girl. Get over it. I’m proud of being a girl.”

She said it all right here. No caption needed. Own it girls.

This woman is doing amazing things and had a lot of great things to say about women. We need to keep women like her around! As this month is Breast Cancer Awareness month, women’s strength is highlighted more than ever. Dragon Wing is supporting funding for Breast Cancer Research,  by selling these bras! Take a look and help a great cause!

The Power of a Girl’s First Bra

I had the pleasure of talking recently with Kelly O’Brien, owner of Linger Tween, a shop that specializes in undergarments for tweens and teens. She’s a big fan, as are her customers, of our Racer and Keyhole sports bras.

Not surprisingly, we talked about the importance of a girl’s experience with her first bra. Between the two of us, we’ve had hundreds of conversations with girls and mothers about their desire to find sports bras and traditional bras that are made for tweens and teens, not mini-sized women’s bras or lacy, plunging, push-up styles that are not age appropriate.

A girl’s first bra is important to her sense of self and can have a lasting impact on how she views her body. She wants — and should — feel comfortable, at ease, free to move, and free to be herself.

For a girl who plays sports, her first bra is often a sports bra. I’ve talked before about why a sports bra makes a great first bra. A sports bra that’s comfortable, provides the right amount of coverage, supports and moves without binding or riding up, and doesn’t scream “bra” can help a girl see herself as the healthy, active, powerful person she is.