“Dear Dragonwing Girl…” Wise Words From A Bad Cookie


Dear Dragonwing Girl,

I would like to start by saying you are amazing. No matter who you are, where you are, or what you have done to get to this point right now, you’re amazing. You have unlimited untapped potential and only the sky is the limit. I’m sure you’ve heard this before from loving grandparents whilst they grab your cheeks and squeeze you in a constricting hug, but right now- at this moment- I want you to read carefully. You are all the attributes I listed before and more; you are beautiful, strong, and smart and you can do everything you want to and more.

Despite you and I knowing these things to be true, some will doubt you. Some will doubt you without even knowing you, and some will doubt you right after seeing your name on a resume. These some will be men, but they will also be women. Most will do this unconsciously, and I implore you to not be angry at them for the ignorance and bias they hold. I implore you to fight the fight of being a career-driven girl in a world run by men.

Though it is important to not hold anger for the world being the way it is, do not conform to the need to be “pleasant” or “calm” or “collected.” You can speak out when you see small forms of misogyny in your school or workplace. Whether it be a man dominating the discussion, or a guy in your group making snide comments, you can step up. You can make your voice be heard because you won’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Because you can.

So, stay strong because it can be hard sometimes. You might be called selfish or bossy or any other number of terms people like to use for women who don’t conform to their stereotypes, but if you struggle, if you stand your ground, if you fight for what you want, then we will be one step closer to gender equality.

Sincerely,

Your friend at Dragonwing girlgear, Abby

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.

 

 

 

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

5 Back-to-School Tips for Active Girls

 

The start of the school year is filled with anticipation, excitement, great promise, and sometimes anxiety. What will my teachers and classes be like? Will I make new friends? Will my “old” friends still be my friends? And, when transitioning to a new school, will I fit in?

Girl with backpack and bike back to school

At Dragonwing girlgear, our mission is to empower girls in sports and in life. Building connections, feeling confident inside and out, and making routines and transitions as smooth as possible can help get the school year off to a great start! Here are our 5 back-to-school tips:

1. JOIN A TEAM OR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, IN OR OUT OF SCHOOL. Being part of a team is a great way for girls to make friends, stay active, reduce stress, improve mental health, and develop lifelong skills – like teamwork and resilience — that are the benefits of sports participation.

2. CHOOSE CLOTHING THAT GIVES GIRLS COMFORT AND CONFIDENCE FROM THE INSIDE OUT. The start of school, particularly for girls whose bodies are changing, can be a time of hyper self-awareness. Research shows that girls are starting puberty, marked by the start of breast development, significantly earlier than 15 years ago, sometimes as young as 8 or 9 years old.

Regardless of when they first need a bra, girls want something comfortable that provides enough coverage so they don’t feel self-conscious and fits them just right, so they can move and play with confidence. Girls and parents alike want a first bra to be age-appropriate, not the padded or plunging bras of Victoria’s Secret, Target, and other retailers.

A well-fitting, comfortable sports bra, like our Keyhole and Racer sports bras, or a sports camisole with an inner layer, like our Un-Tee Sports Cami, is often the best choice.

3. MAKE THE TRANSITION FROM SCHOOL TO SPORTS EASY, QUICK, AND COMFORTABLE. The start of the school year and fall sports season means girls – and parents – need to make quick transitions from school to practice or competition.

Need to change clothes in the car or on the bus? Concerned about modesty while changing out of school clothes and into sports gear? When getting dressed in the morning, choose base layers (aka “undergarments”) — like our sports bras, camis, and light compression shorts — that are cool and comfortable under “regular” school clothes and make changing for sports quick and easy. No need to completely undress; just take off school clothes and pull on a sports jersey and shorts.

What a girl wears under her uniform can help her feel confident and play her best. Undergarments that are comfortable, fit great, and provide appropriate coverage empower girls to play the sports they love without being distracted by droopy straps, bras or shirts that ride up, or bunching shorts.

4. PLAN AHEAD FOR COOLER WEATHER. While it may be hot and humid now, the arrival of cool, fall weather always seems to surprise us. Afternoon practices and games – or the trip to and from school — can quickly turn chilly or downright cold.

A pair of leggings and a long-sleeve top under sports gear can keep a girl athlete warm, agile, and in the game. Moisture-wicking fabric is a must, so the sweat moves away from the skin and girls stay dry and warm. When shopping, consider the sport as well as the fit. Many soccer girls love our Capri-length Chill Weight Leggings because they don’t interfere with shin guards.

5. THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS A GIRL NEEDS ON HER FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL WON’T FIT INTO HER BACKPACK OR GYM BAG. She carries these treasures inside herself: a spirit of adventure and curiosity, a desire to learn and tackle new challenges, and a sense of confidence in herself.

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A slightly revised version of this post originally appeared on the Sports Mom Survival Guide, a great resource for parents of young athletes with tips, ideas, and recipes. 

 

5 Running Tips for Non-Runners

Since my mother is such a powerful and voracious runner, I’m often asked “do you run?” The inquiry always puzzles me. Am I talented at running? No. Do I have what is traditionally considered a runner’s body type? Probably not.

Recently, though, I’ve been really inspired by body-positive campaigns that work to divorce physical activities from certain body types. For example, if you have a body and you’re wearing a swim suit, you’ve got a swim suit body! Likewise, if you have a body and you’re practicing yoga with it, that’s a yoga body. With those messages in mind, I’m challenging myself to answer “do you run?” with an enthusiastic “I try my best!”

 

dragonwing-girlgear-ambassador-celia-after-race-in-girls-sports-bra

Until high school, I was haunted by a memory of (barely) completing the mile during my first week of 6th grade PE class. (For anyone who was lucky enough not to be there, I threw up in the bathroom sink in front of half the girls in my grade after practically walking four dreadful laps on the track.)

With love and encouragement, I share 5 things that have helped me not only conquer my fears but also begin to enjoy running short distances:

  1. LISTEN TO GREAT MUSIC: Try songs with a beat similar to your pace (Spotify even has a really cool app that matches songs to your running rhythm.) Some of my favorites are classic wedding after-party songs like “September” and “Dancing in the Moonlight.”
  2. EMBRACE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN YOUR BREATH AND MOVEMENT: During Ashtanga yoga practice, yogis breathe with Ujjayi pranayama or “victorious breath,” a method which facilitates effortless body movement. I recommend experimenting with different breathing patterns until you find one that works for you! In contrast to #1: try running silently sometimes. There is nothing more grounding than hearing your own exhales.
  3. WALK WHEN YOU NEED TO: Challenge yourself, but listening to your body is important for your safety. Better to protect yourself for a future run than to over-exert!
  4. SET GOALS AND CELEBRATE ACCOMPLISHMENTS, EVEN LITTLE ONES: Whenever I’ve had to do something difficult in my life, from studying for the SAT to puffing through another mile, I’ve made a habit of promising myself a sushi dinner alone. Treat yourself.
  5. RUN FOR YOU: This last tip is a big one. Don’t compare yourself to your friend who is a UNC field hockey recruit, to your Super-Mom, or to famous athlete Shalane Flanagan. It’s great to set an intention for your work out or to dedicate a run to someone who needs it or to a great cause. Ultimately, though, the most rewarding thing about running is that, unlike most other sports, the only thing you need to run is you.

By putting one foot in front of the other and working up a sweat, you’re honoring your body and all the wonderful things it’s capable of doing, so run for yourself.

Back to School Bittersweetness

Remember the Staples TV commercial from a few years back? Dad skipping along the aisles, flanked by droopy kids, while “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” plays overhead?

Back-to-school can be bittersweet for everyone. As she starts her 12th year of school (13th counting kindergarten), Emma calls it “the best and worst time of the year.” Seeing friends, making new ones, and starting soccer season are big pluses. Homework assignments, college applications, and less sleep can take its toll.

In her latest blog post, she’s got some great tips for making the transition as smooth as possible. Check it out and leave a comment with what helps you keep a positive outlook at school.

Remember to SUBSCRIBE to Emma’s blog so you’ll be notified by email each time she posts.

4 Tips Every Young Athlete Should Know for Staying Hydrated

After a long, cold winter just about everywhere in the US, what a relief it is to have warmer weather and longer days. Practices and games that occur during the heat of the day can bring the risk of dehydration, especially for young athletes.

Staying hydrated can help athletes feel and play their best. The U.S. Soccer Federation uses the acronym GOAL for its recommendations for youth athletes, parents, and coaches.

Get acclimated: Young athletes especially need to give their bodies time to adjust to higher, more humid temperatures. Wearing shorts, tops, and sports bras made of moisture-wicking fabric (not cotton) helps your body cool itself.

On-schedule drinking: Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Increase how much you drink throughout the day, every day. Develop the habit of drinking a glass of water before you go to bed or when you get up in the morning. And be sure to drink before practice or a game, too.

Always bring a drink to practices and games. Stay away from caffeinated, so-called “energy” drinks that can cause health problems, especially in young people. To replace electrolytes after you finish playing, try chocolate milk, V-8 juice, or 100% fruit juice, which contains more carbohydrates, potassium, and nutrients than a sports drink

Learn the signs of dehydration: dizziness, nausea, chills, and unusual fatigue. If you experience any of these, stop playing, move to a cooler location, drink fluids, and – most importantly – notify a coach, parent, or other adult.

What you wear can help keep you cool, too. Dragonwing girlgear is made from fabric that wicks moisture so your body stays cooler. Check out our new Mesh Racer Sports Bra and Un-Dee Light Compression Shorts.

Are Sport Drinks Really Good For You?

In part 2 of our feature of nutritionist Kenlyn Young, the topic of healthy sports drinks is brought into the discussion. Is just water sufficient for an athlete? What about sports drinks? Below, our featured blogger answers some of your most pressing questions about sports drinks.

“Staying hydrated is a critical component of exercise. Drinking 2-3 glasses of water several hours before exercise is a must. And of course, during as well. Thinking of grabbing a sports drink? Think again. For most people participating in a sporting activity, drinking water is absolutely adequate. Sports drinks do provide sodium, the electrolye that is lost during exercise, however along with the sodium comes sugar, artificial colors, and brominated vegetable oil, a known harmful product. Most individuals have more than enough sodium in their diets to compensate for exercise. However, if one feels the need to replenish electrolytes after exercise a much better choice than a sports drink is V-8, chocolate milk, or 100% fruit juice. Fruit juice contains more carbohydrate, potassium, and nutrients than a sports drink.”

-Kenlyn Young

Snack on this: A nutritionist’s perspective

As a practicing dietician in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Kenlyn Young has a lot of advice for athletes who depend on good nutritional practices for optimal performance. Snacking is an integral part of an athlete’s diet, if done right. Here is some advice from Young for best snacking habits for an athlete.
“The goal of eating pre-exercise is to ensure the body has adequate energy for best performance and also to ensure that blood sugar levels don’t fall causing weakness, dizziness, or fatigue. Carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source and provide quick energy for our muscles. Great snacks to serve this purpose include 100% fruit juice, a piece of fruit (best choices bananas, fresh pineapple or dried apricots), pretzels, popcorn, or a granola bar. Avoid snacks high in processed sugar, fat, and protein for your pre-exercise snack. The no-no snacks include chips, cookies, donuts, etc.
After exercise, it is important to replenish and repair our muscles. The best snack for post-exercise contains both a carbohydrate and a protein. Great choices include cheese and crackers, apple with peanut butter, yogurt with granola, carrots with hummus, almonds and raisins, even chocolate milk.”
-Kenlyn Young