When I first moved up to Boston I spent a great deal of time alone, thinking about all of the reasons why I had taken such a bold risk to leave my home and throw myself into my business. There was something about this industry that drew me in, but I hadn’t quite figured it out yet.
I thought about my employees and my customers. I thought about my vendors and the product they made. And I thought about all of the women that I haven’t even seen yet.
My mind kept going back to the days when I first opened. On occasion a mother would bring her daughter in for her first bra. This happened a handful of times during my first few years in business. But every year the same mother-daughter duos would come back. And every year these girls would get measured and fit again. Now, 8 years later, some of these girls are in college, and some have even graduated (eeek!). I have to admit that teenage girls are perhaps the most opinionated and difficult customers. And each one presents me with a different set of challenges.
As I look back, I see that most of the girls that I have worked with over the years have one thing in common: they don’t have body image issues. Yes they are particular and needy, but as each year passed I noticed the sense of self awareness some of my customers were developing. I never linked it to underwear, I just thought I had pretty cool customers.
But now that I REALLY think about it, I can see the evolution of a teenage girls psyche, and how wearing the right underwear just might have an impact.
You see, most American girls aren’t educated in the fine area of bra fitting. Not really surprising as there are few service-based foundation boutiques in this country. So these impressionable young women find themselves at the mercy of department stores, Gap Body, and my least favorite of all, Victoria’s Secret (aka Icky Vickie’s). And when they walk in the door for the first time, they probably don’t get the help they need. Maybe they are too shy, or maybe the sales staff is just can’t get it right.
But what happens next has perhaps the biggest impact on a teenage girl’s body image.
We are all guilty of being to hard on our bodies. I find that we don’t really judge ourselves when we are dressed, and we don’t really judge ourselves when we are naked. But in a bathing suit or in our underwear, we are all our own worst critics. For some reason, we feel the need to pick our bodies apart when we are stripped down to the basics. It happens every day in the fitting room.
Now these teenage girls are out to buy their first bra. And they think they know what they need because they are suffocated by the marketing campaigns of big box stores that fill their head with unrealistic images of a feminine ideal.
So they pick out a bra and head to the fitting room. And they put it on. And it doesn’t fit quite right. And they look at themselves in the mirror and the first thought that enters their young impressionable mind is “I’m wrong” or “I need to change myself because this doesn’t fit, and it should”.
Because many of these girls think they are supposed to look the the model in the catalog. And the cycle of criticizing their own physical appearance begins…
BUT… what if the same girls were helped properly, and given the proper garments that fit their growing, unfamiliar bodies. What if they were shown the importance of wearing underwear that fits.
Perhaps if that very first day of bra shopping ended with great fitting stuff, they might feel a little bit differently. They might not think they needed to lose weight or get a boob job before college. Perhaps the issue of body image might never enter their mind. Perhaps they can have a little bit more confidence during the most awkward period of their life.
So when I think about why I chose this profession, I think about a handful customers that I have seen mature over the years. Each one has a distinct personality, and each one knows herself quite well. These girls don’t come in wanting to be someone else, they are perfectly happy with what they have and they know what works.
So really, now that I think about it… maybe it was the underwear.