I know plenty of women who hyperventilate at the mere thought of a bikini. I’ve always worn one and never thought much about it. However, on a recent trip to a family resort, I thought I was going to have a panic attack at the very sight of an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, yellow polka dot bikini.
Okay, so it wasn’t yellow but the rest is accurate.
My anxiety had nothing to do with my own body image, but that I saw this particular bikini on the body of a little girl not much older than my second grader. And then I saw another, and another. In fact, there were miniscule pieces of fabric covering pre-teen bodies everywhere I looked. The experience made me look at my own little girl with more fear than I’ve felt before in my life; I seriously thought I might assume the fetal position and start clawing my skin while murmuring over and over again “I’m not ready!”
Before I go any further, let me acknowledge that this is a controversial subject and I make no claims or judgments about the decisions of others or the intentions of any little girl wearing a bikini. I actually witnessed a fairly nasty Facebook debate on the topic which ended with name calling and husbands defending the integrity and parenting skills of their wives. As a passive observer, I could sympathize with both sides but the reality is that it won’t be too long before I’m going to have to manage expectations about what is appropriate for swimwear, in addition to a host of other choices.
My daughter, Bailey, is a seven year-old LITTLE girl, yet there are so many images and messages encouraging her to grow up way too quickly. From the kiddie lingerie (gross) and high-heeled shoes you now see in your local stores to the fashion-focused, halter top-wearing Bratz dolls, it’s very hard to keep them doing and wearing age-appropriate things. In my opinion, how we dress is a reflection of both how we feel about ourselves and what we want others to think about us. And, I hate to think about some of the thoughts that may have been directed toward those girls I saw on vacation. Continue reading The Great Bikini Debate