Blogging, motherhood, Parenting

The ‘Children In A Bikinis’ Debate!

The Bikinis Issue Background

My six-year-old daughter wanted a bikini as her swimwear. I was not ready for this. She wanted one so badly she threw an hour-long tantrum in the department store until I caved and bought her one. “Bad Mom! How dare I give in to my child, right?” Probably! Then because I bought her one, my four-year-old also wanted one too. Typical.

To be fair to me, the children’s bikini top is long enough to meet the bottoms. It has a modesty skirt over the bottoms so it is basically a three-piece. It is definitely more modest than some one pieces – you know the ones I mean, where the sides are cut out. Seriously, unless you’re being paid to model that, do real people even wear those? I’m genuinely asking? What is it’s purpose?

Moving on … 

I ended up buying her two costumes. *More Gasps*. One was the bikini and the other was a full modest one-piece. The rule is that she is not to wear the bikini outside the walls of our home and she isn’t allowed to wear it if we have visitors at home either.

What’s My Problem?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know I’m coming across as ultra-conservative. Truthfully, I wear a bikini (when I have to wear a bathing suit). The difference is that I am old enough to make that decision, the decision about how much of my body I put on display. I am also old enough to live with the consequences of that decision. I know that there are more than a few perverts on the beach, hiding behind their shades, ogling the women, I know that. She doesn’t.

What I am not comfortable with is my six-year old daughter displaying her body with innocent abandon! It doesn’t feel right to me. Not because she shouldn’t be proud of her body, she should. But because I want to protect her from being objectified and ogled by sickos! I’m her mother.

The Real World

In a perfect world, we are told that women should feel safe and free to wear what they want. They should be able to say what they want, be what they want and do what they want without fear. In fact, there is an entire movement “Still Not Asking For It”. It’s an inspired movement, very powerful and so right. Please google it, the images are shocking but completely on point.

Unfortunately the reality is that it doesn’t matter what you wear or don’t wear, there will most likely be some pervert out there trying to objectify you as a woman. I think we can all agree that the days of innocent abandon are gone. As cute as the kids look in their bikinis, and swimming costumes, there are just too many bad people out there who do horrific things to innocent and vulnerable people, that my child wearing her cute little two-piece fills me with extreme anxiety and fear.

As a mother, I do not want my perfect daughter to unknowingly be objectified and ogled. That’s my choice and my duty as her mother. To protect her.

I don’t want them to know about such things. I want to preserve their innocence as much as I can for as long as I can. As it is I’ve had to have the “please stay close to mommy in this shopping mall, someone might steal you from me” talk. That’s not a talk anyone wants to have with their child is it? But it is necessary.

I don’t want to have to say to her, “You can’t wear that bikini because some sicko will take a picture of you in it and perve over it forever, and probably share it with his other sicko friends on the internet and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.” I really don’t. Unfortunately that’s the reality of the world we live in now.

Am I Judging?

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not having a go at anyone who does things differently to me, or thinks differently to me. That’s your prerogative. Everyone does things their own way, everyone has their own line in the sand on these issues.  This is just my family’s stance. This is our line.

These are my views, my opinions. I don’t judge people who allow their kids to wear bikini’s in public. I genuinely don’t. A little part of me is jealous of them as they allow their children to enjoy their innocence. In my heart I actually feel guilty by enforcing my conservativeness on to my girls, but I can’t fight my own instinct on this.

I wish I felt less concerned, like I could ‘let go’ a little and let them be more free. I just don’t.

What Do Other People Think?

I started writing this post a week ago, and then I decided to do a bit more research to see if I was just being ultra-conservative or maybe I had gone a bit overboard with the protectiveness. So I ran a poll on Twitter and the results did surprise me.

I genuinely thought the ‘unacceptable’ vote would be a lot higher. However, if you read the comments you will see that a lot of the parents said that the word ‘unacceptable’ was maybe a bit harsh and they opted for the word ‘unnecessary’ instead, which I also agree with. As swimwear, why would a child need to wear a bikini even if we are to disregard the whole ‘protect your skin from the sun’ debate? That’s a whole other can of worms.

What My Girls Think

My daughter doesn’t like it – my stance on this. She doesn’t see why I won’t let her wear a bikini at school. She doesn’t understand why mommy won’t let her do an ‘unboxing’ video for ‘the blob’ (I despair, I really do!) to put on YouTube. They don’t understand why ‘so & so’ at school doesn’t have to wear tights under her dress like they do.

They don’t understand why I won’t let them go on a random unaccompanied playdate, or sleepover, or why I won’t let them watch certain programmes. I don’t mind if they don’t really ‘get’ why I scream at them in fear when they take five steps too far away from me.

That’s okay. I can live with that. I can live with being their bad guy and protector.

Maybe I am too protective, conservative, and old-fashioned. Maybe. Maybe not.

I’m Only Trying My Best

I pray that my views are not misinterpreted by my girls and that they one day feel ashamed of their bodies.

All these questions and emotions over a swimming costume.

If I have learnt anything in life it’s to never fight your instincts. If you can’t trust your instincts, especially as a mother, what can you trust?

Trust Your Instincts

Food for thought: as a blogger I wanted to SEO this post as much as I could, so I opened Google to start searching for terms that would suit this post and it hit me – I can’t search for “little girls in bikinis”! I’m just going to leave that sentence right there and ask you all to consider the implication of that.

I genuinely look forward to reading everyone’s comments on the subject of children in bikinis and ‘listening’ to your views. I don’t claim to have the ‘right’ opinion, I just needed to write this post.


 

One Messy Mama

54 thoughts on “The ‘Children In A Bikinis’ Debate!”

  1. I’m not sure why you are worried really? When my daughter was 6 she often just wore bikini pants when playing on the beach. Her brother didn’t wear a top so why should she? Reading your post made me doubt my choice for a second but then I remembered she was 6! She was a young child who just wanted not to wear her top and where’s the harm in that? If we think of modesty in a little child surely we are sexualising them? I understand your comments totally about protecting them but equally by making this a thing you may be making her worry about her body. Having said all of that, I come from a Dutch family and we often let children play naked on the beach (although I wouldn’t do that now!) great post btw

  2. Dying…just lost my reply 🙁

    Let me try to regather my thoughts…..

    It makes me sad that we need to justify our choices…like you’re even trying to say, but it’s actually a very conservative bikini. I am pretty much the same. The difference is that a friend bought my daughter a bikini when she was 6 or 7, along with like a crop top (that may have been mesh as well). I was mortified. She begged to wear the top….and it’s so sad to say…my child you can’t wear what you like because perverts are out there!

    I allowed her to wear the crop top to bed. lol. The bikini at home…but I think I may have allowed her to the beach once in a 2 piece (but long crop top sort of bikini top – #Justification lol).

    I have so many pics when I was 5 or 6…posing in my bikini.So I think it’s sad one needs to overthink this so much and either way you’ll be judged. Allow it and you don’t love your kid cause you allow perverts to look at them….don’t allow it…you’re a meany mom. and and and….

    I was so impressed that Sharon just posted that pic of her kids the other day….I honestly some days just feel that I will keep my kids safe no matter what…. whoever has pics of them (that they can absolutely get anywhere or take anywhere) screw all this overthinking… It’s a real internal battle.

    My daughter is 9 now and she knows me very well. We’ll laugh together when we watch project runway and she’ll be like..You’ll never let me wear that mom, but I know that one is fine cause it’s long and covered. If she wears a top where there’s a slit in the back, she wears a tank top underneath it. She doesn’t fight me….so we’re in a good place. I try to get her a top that maybe has a slight slit just at lower back, but that doesn’t show anything… I don’t want her to be the Amish kid at school when other kids are wearing short shorts and crop tops for civvies….I don’t want her to resent me, so I try to find a happy medium..something we’re both comfortable with.

    Gee whizz…with this reply I could have done my own blog post! LOL. SORRY!!!

    1. I love it. Thank you.
      I saw Sharon’s pic too and I was actually jealous. Jealous for my children of the freedom her’s are enjoying that I can’t allow mine to have.
      You are right about not being able to control who has pics of our kids, but I feel I have to limit that as much as possible because of MY fears.
      As for ‘justification’ again, you are right. Why do we? I don’t know, but I know we all do whether we admit it out loud, or on paper or not.
      Thanks for the comments. X

      1. The fear is very real… My daughter doesn’t even walk to a different aisle in the Spar without me. She goes nuts actually if I turn my back to start walking to the cheese and maybe I sent her for milk. So I don’t know how healthy our fears are….when we’re also instilling the fear into our kids. It’s something I’ve wanted to do a blog post on actually…the fear I have….making my kids fearful of life as well. Where does one draw the line.

  3. For me it was all of the above (why I get her a full costume and not a bikini) but 2 other reasons as well. Bikinis are impractical when she is running and diving and playing and they bother her. The other reason: THE SUN! I try to cover as much of my childs’ skin when she is outside and bath the rest in sunscreen to protect her from the harsh sun.

    1. The sun is a big concern too but I always make sure they are fully blocked. My youngest has gorgeous olive skin but my eldest has fair skin with a large dose of beautiful freckles on her face (just like her mama) – but regardless of that they get the same sun-screen treatment. I just haven’t cracked the hats thing yet – they hate them.

    1. Thanks Sharon. I’m going to have a read as I definitely missed your post.
      You are definitely right about teaching them about positive body image and I really do my best in all other aspects of their dressing etc. because I want them to be proud of their bodies. It’s just this one issue, and I admit that it is MY issue. Thanks for taking the time to comment. C.

  4. OMG….I hear you on the perves and sickos…and it’s NOT just the kids being targeted. I don’t have girls but I can totally relate as I have nieces and I want to cover them up when we are out… whilst it seems my brother and his wife feel it’s ok for the kids to be dressed like that…

    I don’t share the identity of my kids or my husband neither do I used face pictures as I want to protect their identity. The interwebs is a scary place and I don’t want to subject my family to unnecessary crap.
    I agree with your conservative views! As a parent we just want to protect our kids. I know there is a fine line but I’d rather be a little over protective than to nonchalant about it. Good on you for looking out for your girls!

    I love my kids fiercely and believe me I will do what I have to to protect them. They are MY responsibility NOT society’s!

    Great post

    1. Thanks lovely. Like I’ve said on other comments on here and Twitter, this is my journey, my choice, my issues, my kids. I can’t fight my instincts on this. I do, however, respect and admire other people who do things differently, and I am not judging them, in fact I am admiring them.

  5. Great post, and then I read all the comments too, everyone has valid reasons for their opinions, I have sons but I can tell you that when they participate in swimming at school the girls are not allowed to wear anything that bares midriff so no bikinis. Unfortunately if there are sickos at the beach or wherever they will check out kids whether they’re in a one piece or two piece swim suit. I don’t think it would make any difference.

  6. Just when I thought choosing their food was hard enough. Yes, I too have our struggles and trying to find a happy ground with the clothes my daughters wear. This parenting thing is hard but at the end of the day when they get older they will have a choice and one can hope that all this worrying would be worth it. I bought my little one a tennis skirt from PnP the other day it is a skort and I struggle a bit. Finding the happy medium I do not believe has any happiness. I respect that you stick to what suits you and your family, and I do believe you do not judge. I have really enjoyed everyone’s insight into this and your replies C. I’m dreading when my girls want to dress like Miley Cyrus…. 😛

  7. I may be one of few, fair enough, each to their own. I am okay with the bikini now…. it took a while for me to accept it. (I think I am still deep down against it). I am happy for her to wear a bikini now, for maybe another 2 years, then I will opt for all in ones. I hope I don’t pass on my own body shame to her because of it, but I don’t particularly want her prancing around boys in a little 2 piece…. especially in this day and age…. I am okay with the bikini because it is not offen she is in public with it. (Saying this, I think she has out grown all the bikinis or tankinis). At school she has a school costume.

  8. I let my little one wear a bikini. My husband and I are both okay with it. Of course that’s usually if we’re on holiday and she’s in the pool with us. Only full one pieces or those shorts and matching top cozzies for swimming lessons. It’s a difficult one this. I’m thought of as overprotective (by though of, I mean people have disapprovingly vocalized this opinion; as if it matters to me) – My child is never not right by my side at the shop. Either my husband or I are in the play area if she wants to play at a restaurant while waiting for food. I don’t allow sleepovers, or do the unaccompanied party thing. The world is ugly, and I do what I can while I can. I think we all have to do what we can, what works for us, to keep the most precious people in our lives safe. xx

  9. This is an absolutely brilliant post. I am a mother to a boy but at the same time I myself am a woman so I GET IT! It is sad we have to over-protect our children from this young age but in this sick world protecting them is more important than pleasing them.

  10. I didn’t have any reservations to my 5 year old wearing a bikini but her overprotective Portuguese father does so no bikini for her. It did make me think about it and I read an article once about how society are trying to make little girls too sexy too young and how that can have serious ramifications. Just those small things like asking them to make a cute pose and now my daughter has this natural pose now that just looks way too sexy for her young age it frightens me. So I’m beginning to realise that perhaps preserving their innocence is a much safer route to go and wish I never taught her how to pose. They have plenty of time to wear bikinis when they are a more sensible age and I’m glad we are not the only ones being cautious about it. I just tell her now that she is too young for bikinis

  11. Im completely with you on this. As a mom, we shouldn’t feel ashamed for fearing for our child. And as a muslim mom, I intend to start my daughter in hijab (head covering) when she is older, and I still have the same concerns and fears as you have about putting her in a bikini. I think its the attention that our daughters will face for what they wear, bottom line. We can’t change the world and its sickos, but we can do whats best for our child. That’s all we can do, at the end of the day.

  12. I agree to an extend and I hear everything you say. My one daughter refuses a bikini and I leave her but the other one loves it. I allow her. Not that you can see the bikini because I make my kids wear swim vests when on the beach even if it is 9am in the morning. Maybe that’s why I have never thought of it because they are covered anyway. I don’t wear bikinis, honestly I don’t know why. I stopped when I started building sand castles and running after kids before a big wave hit them 😂 but I’m with you. My kids drive me nuts because there’s a million and one things other kids can do and they can’t. I won’t cave….. especially on the sleep over thing. My rule is you sleep out once you are married ❤️ Good post!

  13. Decided to ask hubby now what he thought and he says he has no problem with the bikini. Not even something we’ve ever discussed. I think I’m team #WearWhateverYouWant after really delving into this topic today 😄 Great post!

  14. I don’t think you should feel bad at all, it actually makes me feel a little better that someone else does the same thing I do about choosing what is appropriate for kids to wear! And if it makes you feel any better, my 5 year old doesn’t even own a swimsuit, and I’m perfectly okay with it. I don’t want perves looking at her and taking pictures! My daughter also wears tights under her dresses too!!

  15. My response is kind of twofold. As a parent your concerns are genuine – it has nothing to do with being conservative. You are so right there are so many psychos out there that prey on our kids. We are no longer living in the era that we grew up in. So I totally get your point on that. However, our children are still so innocent and they see things from a different perspective. Your daughter doesn’t yet have that sense of being body conscious and who will be watching her. She doesn’t match wearing a bikini with being sexual. To be honest – the bikini does not create harm it’s the culture of always linking it to body shaming and women’s sexuality. We as parents need to be so careful what we project onto our children – as what we think is good and protective can have an opposite effect. Ultimately you have the right to parent your children as you see fit and to do what is best for them.#Blogcrush

  16. We were 4 girls and 1 boy growing up who all had freedom with what we wore when swimming, as long as it wasn’t see through or had holes in it, and as long as we were covered in sunblock – we were good to go. Until primary school – age 5/6, we didn’t even need to wear bikini tops. It never once occurred to me that anyone would look at my body in a perverted way, or that it was inappropriate. We just assumed that when you start big school you had to wear both parts of the bikini! When Z was little, we had the same rules for her. The top was optional until grade 1. However, with the increase in cell phones and small cameras, we soon realized that opportunities for sickos were more plentiful and it would be much easier to snap pics of her without us knowing. So when she was about 4 and we realized this, we decided that when in public she always had to wear both top and bottoms. End of story. She never questioned us or argued it, just accepted it as the rule. Only babies go without their tops! We also had to remind ourselves not to ever post pics of her playing at home without her top online, which is something we initially hadn’t considered. When throwing body positivity and shame into it with girls in pre-primary, I sometimes think we over think things. Telling a child something is simply the rule, is most often enough. No need to get into the “your body is beautiful as it is but it’s unacceptable to show it off to strangers etc etc” with a 4 or 5 year old! They don’t understand anyway, and it can easily burden them unnecessarily.

    At the end of the day, what works for one family doesn’t always work for the next. If your mom gut is telling you something – listen! And always be open to change your mind or update your rules as you go along and things change.

  17. I’m on the fence with this. Bikinis for young kids makes me feel uncomfortable but it shouldn’t. The sad thing is kids don’t see the bikini as a sexualised issue they just want to wear what older relatives / friends / role models etc are wearing. Are we making it an issue or is it an issue? My daughter is 5 and I’m sure come next summer she’ll be asking! x
    #Stayclassymama

  18. I wouldn’t wear a bikini since having 3 kids! My daughter inherits clothes from her cousins so has no choice on what she gets. I can’t imagine she even knows what a bikini is (aged 5) #stayclassymama

  19. I have to admit I never ever thought about it in this way. I was brought up wearing only bottoms to the beach until I was maybe 10 and that’s probably when I got my first swimsuit for the beach – i already had one for swimming lessons. I suppose it was a different time then. My daughter wears a swimsuit for the beach because i think they are cute but not to cover her up. For me it’s not a big deal if I’m honest. Great posts and really thought provoking. Thank you for sharing with #StayClassyMama

  20. I am in total agreement with you. There are some horrible people out there in the world and I will do everything I can to protect my kids from them. Plus, I think that bikinis are too similar to a bra & pants combo and I think that letting a little girl wear them is oversexualising them. A swimming costume works just as well and is much more modest. Having said that, I remember trying to bargain with my mum to let me have a bikini when I was little, and she never let me. Eventually, though, I just got the message and stopped asking. I’m hoping I can be as strong when my kids start nagging…! #blogcrush

  21. You are best doing and allowing what you feel comfortable with. I let my daughter wear what she wanted, I think the first bikini was about 8 but the novelty soon wore off and she went back to a costume on the beach as it didn’t fall down or ride up! #GlobalBlogging

  22. My daughter’s 6 and I refused to buy her a bikini. In my opinion, it’s just unnecessary. A bikini is for showing off your figure and getting a suntan, neither of which a 6-year-old needs. Each to their own though and I don’t judge the parents of young girls in bikinis! Lol #globalblogging

  23. I hear what you are saying and I totally get the over protectiveness because I am the same way with my boys. Well, I was worse when they were small. Much worse. But here is some food for thought I want to put out there for you in terms of perverts. Those same perverts you’re worried about will objectify your daughters no matter what. They objectify my sons. I used to obsess over that to the point that I was afraid to take them to the playground for fear that someone would see them and start thinking nasty thoughts about my innocent children. It drove me crazy. I had to learn to worry less about what others were thinking because I have no control over that. That took a long time and a lot of hard work on my part to overcome.
    At the end of the day you do have to follow your instincts and do what’s best for your family. I have learned that the best way to alleviate some of my fears was to educate my kids on the dangers of the outside world. Not to the point of scaring them mind you. I don’t want my kids to live in fear but arming them with enough awareness about their surroundings in an age-appropriate manner that helps them understand that when mom says to stay close, they stay close. It’s really small things but again it has to be age-appropriate. It will get easier as they get older to explain things to them. Keep the communication lines open if you can. Best of luck in this. It’s not easy being a mama bear. #globalblogging

  24. I think bikinis have sexual connotations that I would prefer my daughter to avoid. But then equally I want her to be confident with her body and not worry about what others think. It’s so tricky!
    Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging I hope you come back next week!

  25. I am a mother of a tween girl, and a teen girl and also have a son. I want to touch on raising my son here, I think as parents of boys we need to instil in them how amazing girls/women are, how strong, powerful, smart and awesome women are! That girls/womens bodies are there to get them through life, to move, to play, to shoot for the stars, and not there simply to be looked at by boys/men. Boys need to be taught respect for themselves and their mums, sisters, and any other female in the world. That no matter what a girl wears she is not asking to be commented on, or to be seen as a sexual object. I was raped, I was actually repeatedly rapped and beaten by a male when I was 19 years old. I didn’t ask for it, I said NO, I screamed no, I fought like a wild animal against it. It took me a long time to trust males after this, but I will not put all men into a category that says they are weak, or mean, or perverts. Most men are amazing, smart and caring, and I married one of them. Together we will raise our children to know right from wrong. We do not smack our children, and my husband just by being himself models respect for women. I spent many years hiding away, no facebook, no anything, and when I started my blog I chose to write under a pseudonym, I still do, and I never use my children’s real names either. But I also realised that I was letting this horrible person ( I struggle to call him a person) still control me in some way, he was winning by controlling what I felt safe to share and I hated that. In some ways it felts like I was being raped again. So I started sharing images because no creep is going to control me. My body is mine, no one else can touch me without permissions and no one will control what I share, or what clothes I put on. I agree that as parents we are making big decisions and we are responsible for protecting our children. I will raise my daughters to be as strong as I can, and to hopefully love and respect their bodies. My teenager actually read something to me the other day, it was about how to dress like a girl, it said, ‘get up, put something on, there you go you are dressed like a girl!’ I LOVE that, as it should be our choice to dress as we wish and not as dictated by models, magazines, or anyone else, we should see clothing as mearly that, just clothing, and not overthink it. Yesterday she came home after shopping with some friends and was wearing mens T-Shirt with Star Wars on it, it was huge on her, but she loved it! She was so happy with her purchase (she loves Star Wars) and I was so happy to see her making choices based on what she likes, rather than what other girls her age may be wearing. Obviously at 6 years old they can not make the same choices as a teenager or adult can, but honestly other than worrying about sunburn I am not worried if they wear a bikini, mine do sometimes and sometimes they have full piece suits or wetsuits even. Any way I have rambled on so much, I guess I am very passionate about this issue. Thank you for making me think, it is great read. #globalblogging

    1. Thanks for such a personal and objective response to a topic I am passionate about, even though I am clearly a bit torn too. You are incredibly brave and strong. I am so sorry you had to endure what you did! You are an inspiration! X

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