“When you’re doing a sport, you’re living in your body and you experience all the benefits of that—the endorphins, the strength, and neurons firing in the brain. From starting a business, becoming mothers, and making friends, sports help us with everything in life.”- Sally Bergesen, Oiselle’s CEO & Founder
Sports have always been extremely important for me; when I joined my high school volleyball team I instantly had a group of sisters who always had my back, in college I played on a mixed major intermural dodgeball team which produced endless laughs between mathematicians and fashion designers, and later in life when things were at their worst running gave me the confidence and strength to know I can push harder and farther.
Luckily for most sports you don’t need much equipment; some shoes, maybe a ball (or your imagination), and just get out there! And until recently there has always been a key piece of “equipment” I had taken for granted. It wasn’t until after listening to a podcast by Outside Magazine on the History of the Sports Bra, I realized just how integral sports bras are in my everyday life and overall fitness health.
From an early age boys are recommended protective cups and jock straps when signing up for sports. In contrast, recent studies show that rarely (and I mean rarely) is a sports bra even on the list of “recommended” equipment for younger girls, which in turn has led to some discouraging consequences in regards to the future of girls in sports.
As we know being active from a young age is important in the fight against childhood obesity, but in many ways it’s more than that. Sport and fitness has been proven to boost confidence, improve mental health, & contribute to lifelong social well-being. Unfortunately according to the Journal of Adolescent Health:
“46% of girls reported that their breasts had some effect on their participation in compulsory sports and exercise, which was more prevalent in girls aged 13–14 years (51%) and in larger-breasted girls (63%).”
Because of this many girls are turning away from sport and exercise at an integral point in their lives. Half of the girls surveyed reported to never wearing a sports bra, while more than half reported to wanting to know more about their breast during exercise but don’t have access to the right information. Proper fit being one of the most common questions and unknowns.
So what’s being done?
Many sports brands now offer online in depth guides on how to fit a sports bra but these are all geared towards 20+ women who are most likely buying for themselves.
What many of these brands miss is the importance of educating younger girls before they drop out of sport and missing the opportunity to prepare them for a life time of health, confidence, & fitness.
A Vision & A Mission
“Every girl in the world should know that her breasts are normal, and have a well-fitting sports bra if she wants one.” Dr. Sarah Lesko, Oiselle Director
Enter Oiselle; A Seattle based, by women for women athletic apparel brand who’s mission is to encourage girls and women to feel empowered in their own skin and embrace being active for their entire lives. In April 2017 Oiselle launched their Bras for Girls Program which through education and donations encourages girls 8-14 years of age to do just that.
Thus far they have donated over 1,600 bras but more importantly they lead educational open forums for girls and moms to ask learn and questions. Each bra donation is accompanied with a bra fitting booklet and the encouragement to keep moving your body!
With 10-15 more giveaways this fall they will surely reach their 2017 goal of donating 2,000 bras. In 2018 and no plans of slowing down, they are planning on increasing donations, and creating “first-bra” designed specifically for young girls.
When asked about hopes for the future of adolescent girls in sports and what she is most excited for? Oiselle’s Dr. Lesko, one the the programs leads, was quick to say:
“Girls rock! Every day we see girls being brave, tackling barriers, and speaking out. We want to help even more girls feel comfortable with their bodies, so they can do the activities they love. We are so excited about Bras for Girls. If Oiselle can have a small part in easing the body-transition phase that happens for girls, to keep girls physically active through it, we will have succeeded.”
“Receiving a sports bra at the right time can make a difference in how young girls view sports from that point forward. Oiselle’s goal is to remove the barriers in that formative moment, and to encourage lifelong sport participation.” Oiselle, Bras for Girls
Want to spread the support? Do you know of a school, organization, or club (who works with 8-14 year-old girls) that would benefit from Bras for Girls donations and education? Nominate them here! http://www.oiselle.com/got-bras
Following their mission, Oiselle is involved in other charitable programs around the world that encourage females to stay active, you can check them out here: Every Mother Counts, or Girls Gotta Run in Ethiopia, & of course Bras For Girls Program.