It was the summer between second and third grade. I rocked high bangs, Reebok hi-tops with pink laces and according to my mother, was becoming a young woman.
Meaning, boobs were beginning to appear.
But I didn’t see much. Sure, there was something happening but certainly nothing worth dragging me into the junior bra section over.
Bra after uncomfortable bra was brought in to try on and of course, nothing really fit because my mounds weren’t made of much.
However, she didn’t see it that way and we walked out of the store with a double-negative Junior A training bra. That size doesn’t exist. But it should.
Why all this fuss? I was starting Summer Day Camp and she was determined to not have me looking indecent.
That’s right — BOYS go to Summer Day Camp — and apparently, she thought I had something to hide.
I’ll be honest, I was nervous for SDC that year. I was growing up and my guy friends were realizing I wasn’t one of them. I couldn’t just wear a baseball cap and sneak into games anymore. Or pal around with them unnoticed.
They were realizing I was a GIRL.
On the first day of SDC, my parents dropped us off early. My siblings and I were wearing shiny new summer clothes and were ready to have fun. CORRECTION: my siblings were ready to have fun. I was wearing a bra and that thing felt like anything but fun.
It tugged at my shoulders. It made me feel awkward and silly. And I swore it was visible.
I wasn’t the only one.
Joining the playground, I saw one of my girl friends tugging at her shirt and realized that she was also wearing a bra, although she definitely had more to boast about.
I grabbed her wrist, crawled into a tunnel space and we began exchanging our horror stories of being forced into training bras. Annnnd of course, some little sneak was lurking outside the tunnel, heard what we were saying and ran off telling everyone on the playground WE HAD BRAS.
As my friend and I peered out of the tunnel, boys were running up and taunting us — “Ooooh, you have a braaaaa, I wanna seeeee” — it was AWFUL.
We quickly retreated into the tunnel and began devising a plan. We didn’t want to wear them, didn’t want to be known for wearing them — we HAD to get rid of them.
Then I got the dumbest idea.
“Let’s take them off, run up the hill and throw them over the fence!” I thought they would disappear into the woods and the chainlink fence would prevent anyone from going after them. She agreed.
We shuffled around, removed our bras and walked up to the fence with our bras bundled up in our hands. We got a few glances but most kids were busy playing away. We walked back and forth a few times and then I counted down, “1…2…3..!” And I threw mine over.
But she didn’t.
And when I looked over to ask why, a look of horror on her face stopped me… For there hung my bra, perfectly strung out, wide open and on display across the tree branches for EVERYONE to see.
And wasn’t over.
Embarrassed beyond belief, in total shock, I began walking away watching the scene unfold as boy after boy realized what had happened.
There was lots of yelling, laughing, and before I knew it, boys were running past me with bats, branches and anything else they could find in an attempt to retrieve my bra AS A PRIZE.
I died. Right there. On a playground.
The next thing I remembered was sitting on the ground, sifting through a patch of clovers and doing my best to forget what had just happened.
I don’t remember what happened to my bra. What my parents said. What the camp counselors said. Anything.
But I can tell you, my mother never forced me to wear a bra again.