A Bra Company Succeeds by Reclaiming the Innocence of Adolescence
18-year old Megan Grassell is challenging the modern bra industry — by launching her own now-successful line of lingerie. The company, Yellowberry, provides a non-padded wireless alternative to bras that dominate the market for pre-teens.
The bras featured on the website are self-described as “age-appropriate,” “comfortable” and “free of metal hooks and wires.” Furthermore, the name is intended to symbolize the early stages of berries — which pass through the initial hues of yellow before reaching their red, purple or pink colors in maturity.
The idea originated after a bra shopping trip with her then 13-year-old sister, when she was a junior in high school at Jackson Hole, Wyo. Stores offered push-ups, underwire and padded bras for adolescents; but the lingerie that made her sister “‘grow’ two cup sizes” made both feel uncomfortable.
Grassell got the impression that the industry was pushing young girls to grow up quickly, instead of embracing their youth.
“I remember thinking to myself in anger, “‘What is the hurry to grow-up so fast?,’” she wrote on her company webpage.
While initially “brushed away with … with the wave of a wrist,” Megan Grassell, pictured below, found that wireless, non-padded bras for adolescents was niche with huge demand.
As of April 22, when Fortune published an article on Grassell’s company, its bras were sold out entirely, and on backorder.
At the moment, Grassell has decided to take off a year before attending Middlebury College in Vermont, in order to nurture the company.
Watch Yellowberry's Kickstarter campaign:
Teens, Body Image and Social Media
In 2009, some 210,000 teens ages 13-19 received cosmetic surgery, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Experts found that teens underwent the procedures to alter a perceivable flaw that they believed could not be fixed.
An ABC News article featured Caitlin Clemons, of Galveston, Tex., who received breast implants at the age of 17. Clemons decided to have the surgery, because she was tired of “being teased” for her small breasts.
Her parents agreed to the procedure, and later a rhinoplasty (cosmetic surgery of the nose) because she was “coming of age” and wanted to prevent “her doing it behind our [sic] backs.”
Of the teens who underwent plastic surgery in 2009, a total of 8,000 girls ages 13 to 19 had breast augmentations. Nearly 3,000 of those girls were 18 or under.
Furthermore, an article from the Herald Tribune listed social media as an influencing factor with the rise of plastic surgery among teens. A total of 13 percent of surgeons reported that teens sought the procedures because they were specifically dissatisfied with their image on social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. The report from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, found the teens were primarily female.
The Herald Tribune cited Florida State University study on young adults' body image and time spent on social media. The length of time associated with exposure to idealized images of young adults' peers on the networks, is believed to lead to “disordered thought processes,” especially towards weight, eating and exercise.
What You Can Do
- Learn about issues that affect the self esteem and self-image of teenage girls.
- Read a great book about building a healthy self-esteem with your daughter, grandaughter, or neice, from this list compiled by CNN's Headline News.
- Find Out how to talk to adolescents about weight and maintaining a healthy view of one's body on Nutrition.gov
- Check Out Dove's Self-Esteem Project for great resources on media and image for parents, teachers and mentors- such as this powerful video: