Dear Savvy Auntie,

My niece is 10-years-old and should start wearing a bra. When her mom brings it up she has a total drama blowout and refuses to talk about it. She's self-conscious because she's the tallest girl in her class. I want her to have a positive body image, and I know how hard it can be. As a Savvy Auntie who is pushing a D-cup, I feel the pain. I don't want her to "have" to do something she doesn't want to do, but she will have to wear one at some point. I don't want her to get made fun of for "nipping out" at school. Those kids are so mean. Any ideas?

Seeking Bra Advice

Dear Seeking Bra Advice,

I don’t envy your sister–this is a tough age for her daughter and any girl for that matter, as she goes through puberty. We all went through it. During this time, some of us “sprouted” boobs, and some of us didn’t. Whatever the outcome, we were bound to get picked on at school. As the author of The Bra Book, I can certainly offer some professional advice. But, on a personal note, I recall being around this age (oh yes, and one of the tallest in my class) and my own mom wouldn’t even discuss letting me wear a bra or shave my legs. Perhaps it was more about her than it was about me, facing the fact that she was getting older or just not wanting to see me “grow up” so fast. Indeed, I did get picked on at school for being the bra-less one–one more “developed” classmate used to sit behind me in choir class and rub her finger on my back exclaiming “I don’t feel anything! She has no bra!” I finally went to my mom in tears and she allowed me a “training” style.

Unfortunately, no matter what you do or say, your niece will likely face teasing in school and battle self image issues. But, you can help your sister by being a little more understanding about what she may be going through as her daughter becomes a young woman. As an Aunt (presumably a cool one, at that), you are the perfect person to take some of the pressure off your sis, and offer to perhaps take your niece “shopping” for some fun school clothes (and pick up a few training bras while you’re there) and talk to her about some of the changes her body is going through. If you ease sis into it and she sees how happy her daughter is afterwards, your “drama” may be a thing of the past.

Cheerfully yours,

Jené Luciani

Special Guest Expert: Jené Luciani is the highly acclaimed author of The Bra Book: The Fashion Formula to Finding the Perfect Bra (BenBella Books, 2009) as well as a regular contributor to NBC’s Today among a bevy of other national and local media outlets. Jene has been referred to as a "stylist extraordinaire” and the NY Daily News calls her a "bra fit guru.” You can see her advice regularly on her “Ask the Bra Gal” column on and stay up to date on all her on-air appearances by visiting her website. Also find her on Facebook and on Twitter @JeneLuciani.

Published: July 12, 2011

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