For weeks a friend of mine has been complaining about the poor selection of appropriate swimwear for little girls. I wasn’t paying that much attention because I always go for one-piece suits for my girls. This mom-friend of mine does as well, but said she felt bombarded by bathing suits that were in no way appropriate for her five-year-old.
I began to take notice of the styles. Hard to find are board shorts and “tankinis,” having been replaced by triangle tops and side-tie low-cut bottoms. When summer break started and the weather turned oven-like I found myself constantly faced with pictures on social media of young girls in barely-there swimsuits.
I mean, I’m not a prude, but seriously.
Do little girls need to go community pools, public pools, water parks, friends’ pools, the beach, etc. in skimpy bikinis? Then, do their parents need to post pictures on the Internet of their little girls in said suits? OK, first, ew. Second, why?
I don’t think parents necessarily look at a mature-cut suit and think, “That would be so cute on my first grader. She’d look just like a tiny 20-year-old.” Or maybe they do, I don’t know. I do think that we’ve become desensitized to what’s appropriate. When a three-year-old Suri Cruise is walking around New York in high heels and Jessica Simpson is posting pictures on Twitter of her infant daughter in a string bikini, things have gone a little off the rails. When a half-inch inseam is an acceptable length for shorts on a child– or anyone for that matter– it seems like a good time to reassess.
Don’t even get me started on the shorts though — the suits are bad enough.
I’m not alone in this. I posted a comment about it on Facebook and the update elicited a number of comments.
A friend wrote: “I wish tankinis were commonly paired with boy short bottoms. I don’t understand why that is such a difficult combo to find.”
And another said: “We’re trying very hard to teach modesty to our 8 and 4 year olds — it’s really tough with other littles running around in tiny tops and shorty shorts — and especially bathing suits.”
One friend made a very good point, completely aside from the modesty argument: “…geez…at least cover up for the sake of sunburns and melanoma if not for common decency.”
Clearly I have no control over what other parents buy in the way of suits for their young daughters. I can, however, express my concern that putting little girls in tiny bikinis is problematic. These young children can’t and don’t buy their own suits. When discussing a child’s bathing suit, “skimpy” should not be “cute” and it’s my job as a parent to teach my kids that. Then it’s my job to buy them a bathing suit that’s age-appropriate.