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?
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.