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Ask The Expert: My Daughter Refuses to Wear a Bra

Dear Your Teen:

Help! My daughter won’t wear a bra. She is 16 years old. Her shirts are tight fitting and my family finds it embarrassing. But she takes the position that society shouldn’t dictate how I dress. Should I start having a dress code? Do you have any advice?

Should I Make My Daughter Wear A Bra?

EXPERT | Barb Steinberg

I am very sorry you are struggling with what your daughter is (not) wearing.

Unfortunately, you can’t force your 16-year-old daughter to abide by your dress code. At her age, if she has decided to stop wearing bras, all that you can do is to open a dialogue with her about what message she is sending with her clothing (or lack thereof).

Consider asking her questions such as:

When you see a classmate dressed all in black, with black nail polish and makeup, what message do you think he or she is trying to send?

What about a classmate who is always wearing the latest fashions?

In our society, whether we like it or not, the clothes we choose to wear impacts how people evaluate who you are and what you are about. As gently as possible, ask her what message she would like to send.

How would you like others to “see” you?

What messages would you like to send?

Open her eyes to other perspectives. If comfort is a consideration, can she find a bra that allows her to be comfortable and also presents the image she wants to convey?

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It might be hard to live with your daughter’s decision, if you are unable to convince her why to wear a bra. Try to find comfort in knowing that this decision, like almost all of her 16-year-old decisions, will change. This stage, like many others, is only temporary.

Barb Steinberg, LMSW is a teen life coach and workshop facilitator who transforms the lives of adolescent girls and the adults who care about them through practical strategies, insight, compassion and humor.

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