By Sue Guerrieri of SugaPlum
For many people, hitting the shops for a spot of retail therapy is a fun and rewarding way to spend a day. However, for those shopping with teenage daughters, a shopping trip can result in the need for a different kind of therapy altogether that scene from ‘Bend it like Beckham’ springs to mind. I’m not going to lie – shopping with teenage girls is frustrating, stressful and, often, fruitless. Many a shopping trip with a teen has started out with the very best of intentions, only to descend into arguments and, the well worn battle cry; ‘You don’t understand me at all!’ As bad as this is for everyday shopping, it doesn’t come close to the day dreaded by so many parents – shopping for the first bra. Here are a few tips for making shopping with your teen more quality time than time out.
Talk the talk
There are those teenage girls who just can’t wait to get their first bra – seeing it as a first step toward adulthood and independence. Then, there are those who find the whole thing horribly, cringingly embarrassing. If your daughter is the former then, there’s a good chance that she’ll approach you when the time comes (or before, in many cases). For the latter, gentleness and tact are required. It may be that you’ve noticed her developing figure before she has – or that she’s been hiding in baggy, shapeless clothing. Start by asking if she’s been noticing some changes and invite her to talk about them. You can then, tactfully, lead on to the bra buying conversation. If you feel that it may not yet be time to plan a bra shopping trip, try dropping the subject into conversation during an ordinary shopping spree – a simple, ‘Would you like to look at bras while we’re here,’ might just do the trick.
Dressed to kill
It can save a lot of time and hassle if you spend some time online with your daughter before the trip. This way, you can have a conversation about the practicality and appropriateness of chosen items in the privacy of your own home – not in the store which may lead to causing a scene. There’s a good chance that, whilst you’re thinking in terms of sweet embroidered cotton, your daughter’s thinking more Rihanna – tackling this first can save a lot of hassle and tears.
This is also the perfect time to address body image issues and choosing a bra to suit size and body shape. This is always a conversation that should be conducted in private and, with lots of compliments and positive affirmation rather than in public.
It’s all in the planning
Just like a military operation, shopping with a teenage girl requires a strategy and a schedule. Deciding between you when you’ll be leaving and, when you’ll be back helps to manage expectations and avoid misunderstandings.
A run for your money
Once you’ve agreed on your timeline, it’s time to set a budget – and make sure that your daughter is aware that the budget is non-negotiable. Not only will this save you cash but it’s a valuable life lesson for your teen in terms of sensible spending habits. It may help to take just the budgeted amount of cash and leave the cards behind so that you can’t give in to pleading or hissy fits.
Avoid the home front
It may be a good idea to plan your shopping trip somewhere other than your normal shopping centre to avoid your daughter bumping into people she knows whilst shopping for such an intimate item.
A long shopping trip can be tiring – which means that tempers can fray. Try to stop for a lovely lunch, that’s a great way to talk about your shopping trip so far and also ask your daughter if she has seen anything she likes so far.
Vote of confidence
Where possible, let your teen make the final decision on her bra. If you’ve done your planning then the item and its price has been agreed upon and, so, it’s time to let your daughter exert a little independence by choosing the colour or detail; after all, she’s the one who’s going to be wearing it.
Despite your planning and your binding agreements, there’s always the chance that the trip will include an argument or meltdown. If this does happen, refuse to be drawn in to a public scene which will only embarrass and anger her further. Steer her away from the store – and back to the car if possible – and calmly explain the reasons for your decision.
We all know that, in an ideal world, a mother-daughter bra shopping trip would be a day filled with love and laughter. Sadly, we don’t live in an American sitcom – teenage girls are complex creatures filled with confusion, uncertainty and anger as they deal with their changing bodies. Although your trip may not quite be a scene from Bend it like Beckham, with a bit of forward planning, you can make sure that your day is as stress free – and as much fun – as possible.
If you’re still not convinced then, well, that’s why we have the internet. Unfortunately, many lingerie stores still don’t get that women’s bodies and teenager’s bodies are different and, so, you may find that it’s quicker – and easier – to find what you’re looking for online.
SugaPlum is the new range of underwear designed specifically for girls aged between thirteen and sixteen. For more information, visit www.SugaPlum.co.uk