A few months ago, my cousin and I took an art journal class with Brene Brown via the Oprah website. It was the good kind of creative class - no wrong or right way to do anything, just prompts and suggestions around certain ideas. (I didn't even have to drop out!) One of the assignments that struck a chord for me was something like, Go back to a time when you could have used a little compassion and give it to yourself now.
I know it's hokey but stick with me.
Both of the things I came up with had to do with being under dressed and insecure.
One: the time I lost my skirt in first grade. (It was a wrap-around that un-wrapped.) When I went to the office to check lost and found (in my tights and furry hooded jacket), I was relieved to find my skirt but mortified when the secretary called my mom and the two of them got church giggles while I stood there in my skivvies. I think I would have preferred a hug.
Two: the time I forgot to wear a bra to school in 7th grade. Not only was it a P.E. day, it also happened to be the day a nurse was in the locker room checking everyone for scoliosis. That makes it sound like I grew up in the 50s. Does this still happen or am I officially an old lady? Anyway. Total mortification, obviously, especially when so many of the girls I went to school with already looked like women (or, at least, they did to little ole me).
Honestly, even if I hadn't forgotten my bra that day, it still would have been hugely embarrassing. Because as far as I remember, I went bra shopping with my mom exactly ONCE (back-to-school shopping before 5th grade) so by the time I had to change in front of all the girls in my 7th grade class, I was seriously unprepared.
I was such an awkward kid, especially around things like growing up. I didn't want to ask my mom for a more appropriate bra. I didn't want to tell her when I started my period. I didn't want her to notice that I was no longer a child. I was perpetually embarrassed for a good chunk of my life.
I think that time has since been re-branded the tween years.
I would have loved for those years to have been appreciated for what they were - the great in-between. The time in my life when I was no longer a girl, yet not quite a woman (thanks, Brit). But instead I just felt uncomfortable. Like I didn't fit into either space. Not great for a young lady's confidence.
This is why I was so excited to read about Yellowberry this morning. Yellowberry is a company founded by seventeen year old Megan Grassell who, mortified by the overly sexualized bra selection her 13 year old sister was forced to choose from, decided to make a line of bras specifically designed for the in-between years.
The bras are cute, colorful, comfortable and designed to fit a growing girl's body. They are way more fun than the pathetic training bra I often forgot to wear as a tween, yet not an under-wire or padded cup in sight. These bras are not meant to add cup sizes (or years); they are meant to support a girl exactly where she is now.
The name Yellowberry comes from the stages that ripening berries go through. Before the fruit is fully mature, it's yellow. There's nothing wrong with it; it's a normal, healthy part of the growing process. Rushing that stage doesn't make any sense. It's essential for growth. Same goes for girls. The goal isn't to go from a girl to a woman overnight. There's a whole in-between yellow stage that is vitally important and needs to be nurtured.
I really wish these bras were around when I was a kid.
But thanks to my hokey art journal, I can "go back" to that awkward girl standing braless in a locker room and give her a little encouragement (and maybe something to cover up with). I would tell her - "You feel awkward because you don't fit in. You're no longer a kid but you're not yet an adult. But guess what? I have the best news! There's this whole stage that you don't know about! Where everyone's awkward and in-between and yellow. It's called the "tween" stage and you're totally nailing it!"
Then I'd hand her a pretty little Yellowberry bra and send her off to run the mile (and maybe get her spine checked for scoliosis...).
Yellowberry has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund start up costs. Please check out this video and consider offering some support (bra pun - ha!). And if you have daughters or young girls in your life (or you just want to make growing up a little easier for a whole bunch of tweens), please pass this along. Go, Yellowberry!