Last year, I was on vacation and ran into a father whose daughter I had worked with in the past. Their family was staying at the same resort, and the father looked somewhat exhausted and horrified. He explained how he had just spent half his first Hawaiian morning searching the not-so-nearby department store for some appropriate undergarments for his eleven-year-old daughter who had forgotten to pack underwear (go figure). The father, a widower, was doled with the responsibility of purchasing a few pairs of underwear and bras for his tween girl.
His face contorted as he explained how the majority of options seemed hyper-sexualized and inappropriate for an eleven-year-old girl. “All I wanted was some normal underwear, and the only thing I could find were lace thongs! For an eleven year old!” Anyone who has ever been shopping with a tween or teen girl these days can likely relate – there seems to be lower necklines, higher hemlines, and not a whole lot in between. For girls and young women who are growing and developing at all different rates, it can compound confusion and create an uneasiness that can be difficult to verbalize. Girls want to fit in, and yet fitting in often doesn’t give options to promote comfort.
In my book, The Myth of the Perfect Girl, I describe the notion of “Getting Older Younger” when it comes to young girls’ appearance – there are lipstick cases for six year olds, mother daughter manicure parties, and lacy, racy lingerie for girls who are prepubescent. Patty Orenstein’s book Cinderella Ate My Daughter also explores this issue in depth, as does the great book So Sexy, So Soon by Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne.
I was so excited to read about Yellowberry, a company created by a Megan Grassell to offer colorful, unique, appropriate (and comfortable!) undergarments to tween and teen girls. Megan explains why she started the company as a teen (awesome entrepreneurial spirit – I love it!) on her website, and how she is working to change the options for girls. They started a campaign on Kickstarter, which was overfunded, and then now are trying to reach an expansion phase. There is clearly a need for this niche company, who already has a great website and professional presence – and I am so impressed with what they have created so far, and that they have already sold out of bras on their website until May 15 – Lingerie companies, are you watching and listening? There need to be better options out there, and this teen has solved a major pain point.
Photos from Yellowberrycompany.com