I wrote this piece of writing on May 30, 2017, on a Tumblr account that no longer exists. It is about something that happened while I was shopping for bras at Target. There was a woman who brought her son into the women’s section – and proceeded to make things really awkward for him.
I read “Keep Your Eyes Closed” in episode 21 of my Words of Jen podcast.
The other day, I was in Target, shopping for a bunch of things – including bras. Naturally, if you want to purchase bras, you need to go to the women’s section where the bras are at. So, there I was, checking prices and sizes and making sure the bra I might consider trying on didn’t have any latex in it. ( I have a latex allergy.)
From one of the other aisles, I hear this mom tell her son, “Keep your eyes closed.” I look up and see a mom pushing a Target cart with a little kid in it, followed by her son who I figure was maybe 9 or 10 years old, and an adult man that I assume is the mom’s significant other.
I’m trying to figure out how the son is supposed to follow the mom through the bra section while keeping his eyes closed. It struck me as extremely weird. This is a kid. I’m sure he’s aware that his mom wears bras – he’s probably seen her fold laundry at some point. The kid seems intelligent enough to extrapolate that other women might wear bras, too. And, he didn’t seem to think there was any need for him to close his eyes in a section of Target that was, like, completely open and viewable from the aisles.
“Well… if there’s no one else in this aisle, it doesn’t really matter…” the kid said. His mom responded by yelling at him to keep his eyes down. The kid made an exasperated sound, and followed along behind his mom. I’m in there looking for bras while this is happening. It would not bother me if the mom, and her 9 or 10 year old son, were in the same aisle as me. Bras are clothing that some people wear, other people do not wear, and some people occasionally wear. What’s the big deal?
It’s not like we were in Victoria’s Secret or some other “racy” store that sells bras. The models on the packages were more covered up than if they were wearing one of the swimsuits that were on racks right by the front doors that all shoppers have to pass by on their way in.
The mom just couldn’t seem to shut up about this weird issue she was having. She kept asking her son: “Are your eyes closed?” Or, telling I’m “Look at the floor, then.” It was obnoxious.
The whole situation just felt icky. I mean, the kid didn’t intrinsically see the bras as anything special, or important or… sexy… or whatever his mother was worried about. He simply didn’t care. To him, it appears that these bras were just more clothes that his mother wanted to look at. He was probably bored.
I hate when women do things like this to their sons. I mean, here’s a kid that has no internalized stigma about pieces of clothing. He doesn’t appear to be any more uncomfortable waiting for his mom to finish shopping the bra section than he would be waiting for her to finish shopping for groceries or cleaning supplies. He just seemed bored.
His mother, however, is trying very hard to make this into A THING. She’s trying to make him feel like he was doing something bad simply by following his mom (at her request) into the bra section. She’s messing with her son’s head, while he is still a child, and trying to place a stigma on a piece of clothing and on him for being around said piece of clothing.
I’m wondering if her constant “Keep your eyes closed” is going to mess with his head permanently. Someday, when he’s an adult, he might get into a serious relationship with a woman. People who live together, sleep together, and do combined laundry are going to see each other’s undergarments. I would hate for this kid to grow up thinking that he would somehow be damaged by the mere sight of women’s clothing. That’s not going to help his potential future relationship at all.
There are boyfriends who get completely grossed out by the thought of a tampon, and who can’t handle discussions about menstruation. Is this kid gonna turn out to be like those guys? That’s sad. He seemed reasonable for a kid his age, as he tried to explain to his mom that his being in the bra section, with her, was no big deal.
Eventually, I could hear the sound of a cart moving. The significant other guy said something about taking the cart (and the kid in it) and going… to some other part of the store. The 9 or 10 year old son followed him out.
“Aren’t you gonna wait for me?” the mom yelled after them. They didn’t wait.
Maybe this kid will turn out ok after all.