ok or controlling?

A Dad Was “Furious” His Tween Bought A Pushup Bra — Now He Wonders If He Overreacted

The internet had thoughts and feelings about what’s appropriate for a 12-year-old girl.

Originally Published: 
A dad wants to know if he's crossing a line by not allowing his tween to wear a push-up bra.

Navigating puberty with your tweens and teens can be one of the more difficult phases of parenting. Navigating puberty with girls without shame in a world that is sexist at best and dangerous at worst for women can be even more fraught.

Enter a well-meaning dad — a police officer — who just wants to keep his daughter safe. After having a fight with both his wife and his tween about pushup bras, he headed to Reddit’s “Am I The A**hole?” forum to try to see what his next step should be. Basically, he doesn’t think a pushup bra is appropriate for his kid, but the rest of his family disagrees.

Here’s his problem, in his words.

“My daughter is 12, and my wife bought her a pushup bra recently and I was furious. Our daughter like her mom started to develop fairly young. I have always limited her use of tank tops because creeps exist and I know some sick person would see her that way,” he begins.

This was the argument brought to him by his wife and daughter.

“My wife has always been of the mindset that women should not have to conform or hide due to men’s poor behavior,” he continues. “I do agree in an ideal world, but this is far from an ideal world. I get my daughter wants to feel good in her own body, and looking in a way that makes one personally happy goes with that.”

But he feels like his feelings about creeps targeting his daughter should trump good feelings and making your own choices.

“My wife and daughter feel I am overreacting, but certain things I do not want to take a chance with,” he says. “I know this may be a father not wanting his little girl to grow up too fast, but I mean within reason. My wife told me I should not police what our child wears that is what breeds resentment, and I also should not be sexualizing our daughter they are just clothes. I called my wife naive if she thinks a pushup bra and a tank top are just clothes with all the creeps running around. I even showed her our sex offender registry, and this is where she flipped and said I am teaching our daughter to live in fear, while she is trying to teach her to feel empowered by her body and choices.”

It’s easy to see both sides of the argument here, honestly. But his wife added that she grew up with a strict and protective father, and the results weren’t great.

“My wife and daughter have been giving me the cold shoulder, and my wife made a good point since her father was the same way,” he said. “She said our daughter will figure out a way to wear what she wants, and fighting it does nothing except breed resentment. This is when I told her, with what money? I get it my wife will most likely go behind my back and keep buying her these things, and I know a time will come when it will be considered normal attire but she just turned 12, why is my wife and daughter in such a rush to speed up time?”

Down in the comments, readers were split about what to do in this situation, but most sided with mom and daughter that the bra was OK, and that the dad was being fearful and controlling.

“You’ve always limited her use of tank tops,” one person asked. “You’re the one sexualizing your daughter, and teaching her to be ashamed because she possesses a body. Please let your wife handle all this because you SUCK at it.”

“Your wife is trying to raise your daughter to love herself and to dress for her own enjoyment,” another wrote. “Your wife’s approach is more likely to result in your daughter feeling confident and comfortable in her own skin. Your approach is more likely to teach your daughter that she has to hide herself to avoid getting hurt. It will also teach her that if she does get hurt, it’s her fault for not hiding herself.”

Still, a few other dads could see his point of view. Dads who want to protect their girls and others who think there’s just no good reason for kids to wear pushup bras.

“The whole point of a push up bra is to create fuller boobs and make cleavage,” one person argued. “That type of bra is definitely sexualizing the 12 year old. It’s whole point is to make a woman’s boobs more appealing.”

“You’re worried about her safety. I understand,” one person wrote. “Mom is trying to make her comfortable in her own skin. No one is trying to hurt her self-esteem. However, 12 is too young for a push up bra. She can get bras that are less geared to kids, however she’s still a kid. She’s only 12. She shouldn’t have to not wear the tank tops she likes, she should be able to wear what she likes, in an age appropriate matter. If you don’t have daughters, you won’t understand. She’s 12. She doesn’t need the pushup bra, but dad you need to stop policing her clothing.”

The dad wrote back with an update, and it didn’t go great. It seems like while he read all the comments, he didn’t change his stance.

“I tried to express I have no problem when she is older, I tried to offer a compromise that we slowly integrate more adult-looking clothing, and when she is 16 at that point it is mostly out of our control,” he said. “Unfortunately, it did not go well since it is still an aspect of control. I never intended to police her forever. That said a 12 year old does not need a pushup bra to feel cute, I am not telling her to be ashamed, but am I telling her sadly we live in a world where women are still viewed as nothing but slabs of meat to some.”

He also doubled down on the idea that she should dress to not attract “creeps.”

“I tried to explain I wished she did not have to live in a world where this is not a thing, but it is. We can wish all we want, but in common sense, certain actions and attire bring about more attention, and more attention increases one’s likelihood of getting the attention of a person that may harm,” he wrote.

That sounds like it’s getting to victim-blaming territory, honestly. But at least he got a discussion going about how we should think about and treat our tween girls as they go through puberty and enter the big wide world.

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