23 Nov
Welcome to the 4th Grade! Where’s Your Bra?

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I get an email every Sunday night from my daughter’s 4th grade teacher that covers anything important for the week. But this week’s email said, “Please make sure your child is dressed for running outside, stretching, and being active. This eliminates tight skirts, floppy or clunky shoes, and coming to school without a jacket. A supportive sports-bra if your girl is beginning to bud is a thoughtful gesture, and crystal/deodorant if they are beginning to perspire is especially appreciated by their pregnant teacher! : )”

My daughter is 9-years-old! I am NOT going to give her a complex about her teeny tiny boobs or a little bit of sweat. I don’t think it is the teacher’s place AT ALL to bring up bras and deodorant. In my opinion, it is a parenting issue. I know little girls are developing earlier and earlier these days, but I’m still going to let my newly 9-year-old go without a bra and deodorant. She’s too young to worry about vanity. She goes to school in clean and appropriate clothing and has a bath or a shower everyday.

What do you think? Should she be told by her teacher to wear a bra? I know this wasn’t directed at my girl personally, but I would hate for the teacher to ever say anything to the girls about this.


Mind Your Own Beeswax, Teacher


Dear Mind Your Own Beeswax,

Wow, where do I begin? B.O., sports bras, pregnant teachers and the phrase “if your girl is beginning to bud.” I feel like I’m trapped in an ABC After School Special with Lance Kerwin all of a sudden. Should I put on a crocheted vest and try some of that groovy angel dust I’ve been hearing so much about? Maybe I’ll do it right after I make-out with an older dude at the disco roller rink. Whee!

But back to your question. Right off the bat, I will agree that yes, the teacher is somewhat overstepping her bounds in regards to her students’ personal hygiene and support garments. Those are most definitely matters best left to parents. However, there are two things that might be at play here.

First, she’s pregnant and therefore extremely sensitive to smell.   I know that when I was pregnant, I couldn’t stand the aroma of coffee and used to yell at my co-workers for having the nerve to use the office coffee pot in the morning. “Don’t you idiot caffeine-freaks care about my unborn child?! Don’t you? What is wrong with you selfish morons? I HATE YOU!” You know, I’m still not sure why I was laid-off.

What I’m trying to say is maybe you can cut her a little slack with the deodorant issue. Your daughter may not need it, but others might. I know my 9-year-old son’s armpits have started smelling like a New York city cab driver’s lately, so we just had to buy him some deodorant. (Baby’s First SpeedStick! So cute!)

And the second thing at play is maybe she’s advising bras because the girls who are “budding” are being teased. Rather than singling them out and/or speaking to their parents privately, she opted for sending an email to everyone. Or maybe she’s noticed that when the girls are being active at recess, like on the monkey bars, sometimes their tops flip up and there’s nothing underneath. At any rate, if you don’t think your daughter needs a bra, I wouldn’t worry about it.

I do agree that a 9-year-old girl shouldn’t have to worry about “vanity,” however wearing a bra and smelling good are issues that are going to come up sooner than you think so it never hurts to teach her about it while she’s young. (Because you don’t want her to be this person when she grows up.) And while your kid’s teacher might be a little bit of a busybody, I have to say that it sounds like she really cares about the kids, too. Even the smelly ones.

Good luck,

Wendi, TMH


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34 Responses to “Welcome to the 4th Grade! Where’s Your Bra?”


Comment by PinkElephant.

Ugh..that phrase…”if your daughter is beginning to bud”…makes me cringe. I think the teacher is really overstepping here. She’s suggesting a sports bra as a “thoughtful gesture”? Thoughtful for who? Like those “buds” need supporting anyway. This rubs me completely the wrong way.

I do understand the deodorant issue because 4th graders can get stinky after gym. But the bigger issue is, they use WAY too much deodorant when they start using it. Have you ever smelled over-applied Axe? That teacher is really going to be sick then.

It seems like the teacher was just trying to bring some light to some issues that needed to be addressed. But I probably would have been somewhat annoyed/offended too.


Comment by irlmumof2.

Girls who “bud” early at my school were targeted by the boys, and yes as early as 4th grade. I know because I was one of them. My mother and grandmother refused to buy me an appropriate bra because I was “only 9”. My life sucked from that point all the way through middle school. I WISH a teacher would have pointed this out to them.

Marinka Reply:

I wish there had been a teacher to tell the boys not to do that. Or even teach them that harassing girls isn’t tolerated.

Masha Reply:

Same here. My strange mother finally bought me a bra in 7th grade, but I would have wanted one earlier.

Ace Reply:

oh, bless your heart! This makes me so glad that my mom was also an early bloomer (and super conservative/occupied with modesty), so she made sure I had a bra when I needed one. I agree with Marinka, but I also know kids are “smart” about not letting teachers hear stuff like that too 🙁


Comment by Karin.

I have a 4th grader and I’ve been in her class room – deodorant please!! And she has asked for a bra with some of her shirts (I bought her a couple of training bras which are – in effect – middrift baring camis and several cami’s which she can wear instead). I don’t think the teacher is over stepping – she’s not pointing out specific children, she’s making a blanket statement that this is the time that you need to start thinking about this. My 4th grader is already 10 and she wasn’t held back – she just missed the cut-off by a couple weeks. 10 year old girls are expected to start changing.

Texas Mom Reply:

As a former teacher and “early budder,” I agree with Karin completely. Couldn’t have said it better!

chastity Reply:

Oh I completely agree! I budded before I left 4th grade… I think this teacher was well within her right as their teacher to mention this to the parents NOT the students.


Comment by avprobeauty.

I could see how some parents could find this offensive, however, since she is being vague and not singling anyone out, I think it doesn’t hurt. I agree with the sentiment that there are some children who’s parents seem to be oblivious to their childs hygiene and may need a ‘gentle’ reminder that the kids at school aren’t the only one noticying ‘smelly Sally’. I’m just sayin’.


Comment by Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes.

First of all the words ‘beginning to bud’ made my hairs stand up straight.
As for the bra: do they move when she jumps up and down? Yes? Get her a training bra, not a real sports bra. Just something to cover up, because other children are sure to point it out and yes your daughter will feel mortified. I speak from experience here.


Comment by Kathy.

Our daughter’s school addressed this in their gym/health combo. She came home demanding deodorant because the teacher told everyone that by fifth grade they should all have it. We got her some of those little top type bras too because she’s changing and like someone pointed out – she’s not really modest at 10 and the monkey bars do leave her exposed as do cartwheels, somersaults, climbing trees, sitting upside down on the couch reading and various other activities.

While I agree its a parenting issue and this particular parent may be on top of things – we all know parents who aren’t so maybe this email was helpful. Although playing the pregnant teacher card was kinda lame – she could have been more neutral.


Comment by Bean.

Hate the language. But overall, I think it’s a good reminder. It’s not aimed at any one person. And I vividly remember all the hoopla when various girls started wearing a bra in 5th & 6th grade. I was the last one who needed one, my mom wouldn’t buy me one – but boy oh boy did I want one. Especially since I got teased for being a “boy” since I wasn’t wearing one yet.


Comment by Jen @ And Two More Makes FIVE.

My nearly full-time stepdaughter asked for a bra in fifth grade because girls were snapping bras and she didn’t have one on. She didn’t need one at that point but many girls did. My first thought, though, was “NO WAY! You’re only 10!” I had to stop and rethink my position. She was too embarassed to ask me in person; she had to write a letter asking for a bra! And we’re a super-open family but she was afraid just the same. So the teacher probably has noticed some problems and is trying to facilitate parent-child communication.

It honestly sounds like the teacher is facing issues with inappropriate clothing in general. It probably took her a really long time to come up with something that was light-hearted and wouldn’t offend the parents. Blaming the deoderant problem on her pregnant self is certainly better than saying, “Some of the children in the class stink and you are a slacker for not noticing and buying them deodorant.” And she emailed, rather than sending something the children could have intercepted or having the conversation with the children herself.

I would reply back to the teacher and share your feelings that your daughter doesn’t need a bra and deodorant but you wanted to make sure that you weren’t missing anything. Chances are she’ll reply back that the email has nothing to do with your daughter and then you’ll feel better…but if there is something going on with your daughter specifically you’d definitely want to know. And if the teacher is completely out-of-line you can discuss with her further and possibly go to the principal if necessary.

Plano Mom Reply:

Love this answer! Give the teacher an opportunity to clarify personally, about your child. I’ll bet she’s wishing other parents would be as concerned.

When I was in the 4th grade, my best friend Cameron, a BOY, was the person who took me aside and told me I needed a bra. I was mortified, but he was right. In my opinion it’s better for your daughter to have a bra available than to have to be told when it’s really necessary.


Comment by laffin' so hard.

I will give my opinion on this once I find out from my own experience what it is like to “bud” and “sweat”. I am currently in -20C, and probably have a chest size smaller that the 9 year old. I may have my own issues.


Comment by JK.

I think parents are oversensitive. I am not a teacher, but I do sympathize. Remember, she’s not dealing with two or three kids here. It’s probably anywhere from 20 – 35. That can be overwhelming. I knew a fourth grader with full size women’s breasts, at least a C. If her parents were in denial about her growing up, she needed someone to speak up. If the letter doesn’t apply to you or your kid, let it pass. Hopefully whoever it was meant for got the message. I think the teacher was encouraging parents to address this with their own kids and I think she has every right.


Comment by thepsychobabble.

I wish someone had said something to my mother. I started “budding” (or WTFEver) very early, and really wanted a bra, because I was embarrassed. I was 9-10ish. My mom flat out said no, because I wasn’t old enough for that. Even though my body disagreed.
It was the same thing with deodorant.

Masha Reply:

Same here!!!

Ace Reply:

holy canolie, so many of you have made me feel so thankful that my mom, even though she was old-fashioned, really recognized that I needed that stuff. I started menstruating at 8, had a very full bust, and really needed help. I am sure it freaked her out to deal with all those issues so early, but I am so thankful that she did!


Comment by Dawn.

I wish my son’s fourth grade teacher would do something like this. I was there yesterday and saw several girls who could use a bra, plus the room reeked of b.o. Perhaps if more parents were aware of the changes taking place with their childen, the teacher wouldn’t have to address it. And it can really devalue a girl’s self esteem to be teased about her body, especially at recess where the teacher can’t hear it.


Comment by Denisep.

As a teacher and mother to a 13 yo boy, 12yo girl and 7 yo girl, I say Amen!

I teach 6-8th grade and there are many times I’ve had to have the talk with the entire class about proper hygiene and BO. As for the bra issue, it is personal, but my daughter needed one in 3rd grade and my 2nd grader is starting to need one herself. Here the girl to woman and boy to man talks take place in 5th grade.

In our school changing clothes for PE and showering starts in 3rd grade. Deodorant is expected then. It may seem young, but even students who shower daily can get bad cases of BO especially after PE and recess.

Please keep in mind that some parents need the reminder that their child is growing up and changing.

If it doesn’t apply to you, just take it for what it is worth.


Comment by Ace.

Wendi, great job answering. I am NOT a mom, but I DID have “budding” c-cup breasts by the time I was 9, so of course my mother already had me wearing a bra. I also remember middle school, and although this certainly should be a parenting issue, some parents don’t get it. I can’t think of a more discreet way that the teacher could have brought this to parents’ attention, except for perhaps the chance that many parents who NEED to be informed about these issues (unfortunately), might not have e-mail 🙁

Hopefully, later in life, if your daughter needs to be wearing a bra (or a slip, or panties, or needs to use deodorant, or has camel-toe), she will have a friend who is bad-ass enough to take her aside and talk with her about it. For now, she’s relying on the wisdom of her mother to keep her from those embarrassing predicaments. Unfortunately, some kids have to rely on their teachers to point out the obvious to parents.


Comment by Patty.

I had to wear a bra in the fourth grade – at 9! — and if I ever run into Gary T. again I will bury my fist in his stomach all the way to the spine. That [expletive deleted] rat followed me everywhere, sat behind me in class and pulled the strap, and in generaly made pre-adolescence a living hell.

All in all, a sports bra, with no easily pulled backstrap isn’t a big issue, nor is the deodorant. As for Axe, for heaven’s sake, why does ANYONE buy it?!


Comment by karena milford.

I work in an elementary school and you would not believe the number of little girls that need to be, but aren’t, wearing a bra. If the girl is budding and not covered well, she’s going to be teased and that sucks, but you can’t expect a teacher to keep track of every word that comes out of all 22 students mouths. As for deodorant… have you ever been in a classroom with 22 pubescent kids in august after gym class? I’m sure not all of them need it, but its not a bad idea to start em before they need it. Gets em in the habit.


Comment by chastity.

In regards to that teachers email,

I do NOT think she was wrong in ANY way. She sent the PARENTS an email. She did NOT single out your child out, embarrass her, and send her home with a special message to her mother… to make her wear deodorant and a bra (now that would be inappropriate). She respectfully brought it up IN A GROUP EMAIL and did not single anyone OR THEIR KIDS out.

YOU, dear, are the one that is out of line. It is ridiculous that you would consider personal hygiene and “girlish upkeep” vanity!! Do you not wear bras? Do you not wear deodorant?? Vanity has nothing to do with what this teacher said in her email. She is concerned about the children she spends ALL darn day with! SHE IS A TEACHER WHO CARES!!!!! SHE is the one who handles them at their best and worst Monday through Friday; SHE has to report to you and the administration board about YOUR kids; SHE has to be TRAPPED in a room full of post-recess/post-PE children who smell like puppies and onions for the last 3-4 hrs of the school day; SHE has to see “budding” breasts poking out from t-shirts everyday. We’ve ALL had to wear training bras, and you, as a mother first should be thankful for another woman who even cares to respectfully and dutifully SUGGEST (not TELL) to you what some of her parents have apparently missed.

Now, if your daughter has not yet “budded”, then she may not have been referring to your child. But you knew at he beginning of the year that the teacher sent out emails to all the parents, andit is safe to infer that all the parents got this same email. YOU may need to reconsider how personally you take things (even some that do not apply to you).

Instead of bashing her about her in an online blog alleging her disdained partnership with childhood vanity, you could stand to appreciate her a little more. I wish my children’s teachers would care enough to send us emails. You evidently don’t know how good you’ve got it. You owe that teacher an apology for your oh-so-misinformed behaviour, and remembr, always set an example for your children in open and closed door situations. You never want to create regretful lifestyles in your children….

The Appreciative Parent


Comment by Dionne'.

WOW!!! OBVIOUSLY more people need to step into a classroom! I hate “silly” parents that always have something to say BUT you aren’t with those kids all day!
I teach SECOND GRADE and THEY need deodorant (and their teeth brushed EVERYday) so I can only imagine them being in 4th grade! And I also work with cheerleaders of all grade levels and when u look around the room and see a bunch of little tata’s flopping around the room, u don’t want anything to become inappropriate with boys either…. Let’s keep in mind that kids are thinking, talking, and PERFORMING sexual acts as early as 3rd grade now!
It’s REALLY sad that we think someone looking out for our children is being inappropriate! And I wonder WHO would want to be in a room ALLLLL day with 18 people and at least HALF need deodorant! I would also think that as SOON as ur daughter did start to develop as a MOTHER u would have already gotten a training bra of some sort withOUT having to be told

Hayleyc Reply:

This is very true. I am in the Education department at APSU to teach grades K thru 6 right now. I know exactly what you mean about them needing deodorant. However, I also realize that some parents take offense to such comments about their 9 year olds “budding” and whatnot. I just feel sorry for that pregnant teacher who has to smell them all day!


Comment by Dionne'.

AND since WHEN does “taking a bath” keep u fresh ALL day??! O_o **crickets**
ESPECIALLY when ur running at recess, P.E., dancing in music, etc…….. The truth is IT DOESN’T!
Guess y’all want us to smell ur funky kids all day! Sorry to surprise u….. But yes even YOUR child gets fonky too! Now multiply that! 1×18


Comment by misstee10.

So as a person who NEEDED a bra at 8 and started her cycle at 10 … It needs to be said. Some parents are in denial about their childrens development because they didn’t start developing at such an age so they assume that their children shouldn’t either. My mom wasn’t preoccupied with bras because when I was in 2nd grade ( when i got my first training bra… FROM MY GRANDPA) she was still in an A cup and honestly … it didn’t dawn on her that I might need one. It is extremly uncomfortable to run with BUDDING breasts… they are extremely tender. And yea … I needed deoderant then too … Cmon now people. Get your head out the clouds ! thanks !

Hayleyc Reply:

I completely agree!


Comment by Should I get her a bra | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] if you are talking about your prepubescent daughter, I have a very different answer for you than if you are discussing your golf partner’s […]


Comment by Hayleyc.

It does sound like the teacher truly cares about the students and may not realize that she is overstepping her boundaries.
That being said, I started my period at 9 years old and was fortunate enough to have the other girls make fun of me because “carrying your purse into the bathroom with you is gross”. I understand the point made that other girls in the class may get teased for issues with bras and whatnot.


Comment by arakp.

One reader said it perfectly, that the teacher probably spent a long time composing what to say without offending anyone. I am a teacher and I have a couple of girls who should start wearing a bra, especially during physical education. What do I do? Do I tell the parents? I am a little apprehensive broaching the topic because I do not want parents upset at me. However, there comes a time when kids start to notice and I don’t want anyone teased and I don’t want the parents offended.


Comment by Whatevergirl.

“I don’t think it is the teacher’s place AT ALL to bring up bras and deodorant. In my opinion, it is a parenting issue” You’re an idiot!

“but I’m still going to let my newly 9-year-old go without a bra and deodorant” I understand the bra, but use the deodorant, you idiot!

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