I remember when I knew I needed more than a t-shirt to cover my budding womanliness. I was 11 years old and just entering Middle School. I was wearing my favorite Easter dress (in fact, it was my only Easter dress) and I noticed two bumps on my chest where I used to be relatively flat. My first intinct was to go and tell my mother that I thought I needed a bra.
My mother's response was, "well, if you think you do, we'll go shopping." And we did. I think we went to K-Mart for that first bra. A saleswoman approached us and my mother explained why we were there. The saleswoman saw me and suggested a "training bra." I turned up my nose in disgust. I knew I was too womanly for a training bra. We tried the training bras. They were too small.
Vindicated, I progressed to the bras with A cups, and they fit perfectly. I came home with two bright fuschia (this was the 70's after all) bras that no doubt showed through everything I wore, but I didn't care. I had two bras! And they weren't training bras! I was so excited by my new adornments. It meant I wasn't a little kid any more.
I wore A cup bras for two years until they started to feel uncomfortable, so, back to the store we went, and I tried on the B cups. They were too small. I tried the C cup bras. I was 13 years old. I wore a 34 C bra. Do you know what happens to 13 year old girls with C cup breasts? 13 year old boys see them as nothing but walking boobs - with bra straps that need to be snapped as they walk by. I had more boys try to "cop a feel" over the next few years than is humane. Nowadays, girls are smart enough to have boys like that brought up on sexual assault charges. Back in the '70's, we girls grinned and beared it and a few of us developed a strong left hook. Some of us had older brothers to beat up the boys at school who were getting "too familiar."
The bra they should buy for 13 year olds.
I didn't have an older brother, so I became a bedroom recluse. I read voraciously. I read every classic bit of literature in the house, plus the Oz books and The Water Babies. I read the Encyclopaedia Britannica and The World Books. I read the Swedish-English dictionary. I read my mother's college art major books.
I don't think my mother saw me until the year I graduated from high school. I still wear a 34 C bra. I'm still barely over 5'1" tall. I blame the bras. They stunted my growth. They're also why I'm so well-read.