The Upside of Puberty

IMG_0053This fall, my daughter and I are entering new territory. After a year or so of nonstop growth, Katie is 5’1″ (or was in August when I last measured her. By now, she’s probably even taller.) She has outgrown girl’s sizes, but swims in most women’s clothes.

Last month, we ventured into the junior section for the first time. I couldn’t help but notice the sexualized nature of the clothes: skin-tight tees, Daisy Duke shorts, cleavage-baring shirts, “skater” skirts and dresses that would barely cover Katie’s private zones.

I was appalled. And that was before I saw the padded, push-up bras with matching thongs!

I know there are probably high school girls who wear junior sizes. But still, what if you don’t want to dress like a harlot? What then?

And what, pray tell, are middle school girls supposed to wear? Because clearly the jump from girl’s sizes to junior’s is ridiculous. These girls are eleven to thirteen years old. They don’t have any cleavage to bare (and if they do, what parent wants it put on display?). Who designs these clothes? Do they have young daughters? Based on the majority of things available in the junior department, I would have to say no.

Fortunately for me, Katie did not appear to disagree. As we walked past rack after rack of clothes, she continued to exclaim, “No, thank you!”

No, thank you, indeed. Particularly to the thongs.

As we combed through the department, I started to worry. How in the hell was I going to dress my barely verbal preteen? Other than the shorts and tanks she had worn all summer plus a few pair of size 16 jeans (with the still necessary adjustable waist that I could cinch in), everything was far too small. But I wasn’t going to put her in any of these clothes to send her to school.

Then we found The Shirt.

2513492_Coral_PlaidKatie has never been willing to wear a traditional button-up shirt. She would happily wear almost anything else, so I never fought it. But here was a rack of plaid shirts that caught her eye.

“Pick one,” I said. “And we’ll try it on.”

Katie stood there for a long time, considering. Then she pulled out a coral pink plaid shirt. “This one.”

I found what I guessed was the correct size. Katie selected a matching coral cami, and we headed to the dressing room.

She tried it on and studied herself in the mirror. She turned right and then left. She looked so grown up standing in that cramped dressing room, it took my breath away. “You look pretty in that shirt, Katie.”

She turned toward me with a look that needed no words.

“Really pretty.”

Her grin lit up the room.

“That color looks amazing on you. You want to buy it?”

“Yes, please.”

We eventually found some other clothes on clearance racks including custom tie dye shirts. A navy skort and capris in Petites. A few tees and a tunic in Misses. A pair of XS leggings. A denim shirt and knit dress at Target. We even found some comfortable (and non-push-up) bras.

It will take more time and effort to dress my daughter now, but I’m confident we can find cute clothes that will fit and are age-appropriate. Plus, the look on her face as she tries on these more “grown-up” clothes? Priceless. Truly priceless.

For us at least, this is the upside of puberty.


What has puberty taught you? Leave a comment below.

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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2 Responses to The Upside of Puberty

  1. hector says:

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    nice one for starting this up. Great job of bringing something new to the internet!
    Thanks for supplying this information.

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