Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Why I Took My Teenager to Victoria's Secret and It Wasn't Weird






Picture this: California circa 1993ish, an introverted teenage girl with some emerging body issues trapped inside a communal dressing room at Loehman's full of women of all ages and sizes in varying states of undress. Surrounded by mirrors. And having to try things on with the ugliest 'support' bras ever. It was horrifying. Add to that the mortification that comes with a sales woman measuring you in THE MIDDLE OF THE STORE while shouting out your size to your mother across the aisle. I wanted to crawl inside myself.  
I also spent a good portion of my youth in stark white scratchy underwear and were it not for the fast talking sass mouthed friend of my mother, who knows how long it would have been before I ventured out into the world of colors and patterns. Eventually I began buying my own underwear and it was no longer so that wasn't an issue but my mother still purchased my bras. Therefore I was subject to where and when she was willing to purchase. Clearly, bra shopping is still as touchy subject.





So when it was time to take my own daughter bra shopping I opted for a more pleasant and personal experience. I wanted to take her to a place that was familiar to her, welcoming and offered more than a "section" in which to shop. Naturally, we went to Victoria's Secret. I did ask her where she wanted to go and that's what she wanted so off we went. I admit it was a liiiiitle bizarre to walk into a store I used to spend quite a deal of money in, and now be in there with my daughter.  
But here's where it gets weird, when the topic came up in conversation, people had thoughts and opinions about where I take my daughter shopping. I had several friends who have girls of their own exclaim they would /could never see themselves doing that with their own daughter. Slow down there sister, your daughter is three. Of course you can't. When Sweet Pea was three, I couldn't imagine buying her makeup, taking her bra shopping or getting ready for freshman homecoming but here we are. Naturally, I wanted to be offended initially, but I also realize where the sentiment is coming from. It's hard to imagine your baby as a young woman but there has to come a time when we make that recognition. So we bought some bras and underwear. And nothing scandalous has happened since. It's not like it was full blown lingerie. We're talking respectable cotton drawers and the like. I'm still the daughter of a woman raised in the Midwest so even though I'm #straightwestcoastin  and a somewhat "cool mom", I still hear my grandmother and mother's admonitions on modesty in my head and trust, when I say she too hears those same little pearls of wisdom.

Sometime in the last few years my Sweet Pea has gone from snaggle toothed child, to pre-teen to full blown teenager. And it astounds me as well as makes me smile. Parenting in this new age is wild. It's challenging when they ask tough questions or we have to make the hard decisions but it can be ever so rewarding. When she and I are able to hang out and just be, whether that's shopping or getting our hair and nails done (which I realize reads as being very stereotypical but it works) baking or trying out new dessert spots it makes things easier at home and keeps our lines of communication open. It also gives me insight as to what's going on in her life and how she's feeling. We can talk about "things" without any pressure or judgement. It also helps I can ask questions while perusing clothing racks and not have to put face to face pressure on her. I remember being a teen and squirming under what felt like intense scrutiny from my mom, so I try to be a little more chill about it. In some ways, it also fosters her own sense of independence, I let her pick out things she likes (but still have final approval) and leave her to her own devices so that she begins to trust herself a little bit more and lean on her own judgement. I want her to feel good about herself and how she looks both in her clothes and out. If nothing else I just want her to be comfortable in her own skin and feel good about / in what she wears. That includes underwear.

I realize by meeting her where she is on some things allows her the room to feel like she is seen and heard. Which I remember wanting to feel when I was her age. I practice a lot of empathy when it comes to her and these tumultuous teenage years. I remember those feelings all too well, and have the angst journaled for proof) Until she does some way out teenage shit. Then I have to go full on #housewifethuglife on her. It is what it is.  
But in the meantime in-between time, we get to have these types of experiences as we navigate this new territory. It may seem odd to some but it's what I would have appreciated when I was that age and hey, Victoria Secret beats a communal dressing room any day of the week.  


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