Little Girls’ Swimsuits

I read this article by Pigtail Pals (which eventually made a stir at Blog Her, etc, etc), and it got me thinking. I don’t like the idea of a little girl in a “sexy” swimsuit, and I’d never buy W a string bikini, but what really got my gears turning was the argument for such swimsuits that I saw in the comments sections of the articles. Among them, the idea that a pedophile is a pedophile, and dressing one’s daughter in a specific way doesn’t increase or decrease the likelihood that a pedophile will think bad thoughts and/or do bad things. Regarding this, I heartily disagree.

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W at 9 months old, enjoying the pool with Grandma.

I want to share a story about a friend of mine. He’s a really good, stand-up guy with a moral compass that points due north, is in his late 20s, and is in a committed relationship with a great woman. I saw him at a social event a few years back, and as we were talking, we both noticed a very pretty young woman of about 18 or 19 walk by. She wasn’t dressed inappropriately for the event or for her age. Her clothing was attractive and stylish but not particularly revealing; her hair and makeup were impeccable. Still, despite all the appropriateness, she was one of those people who just sort of radiate a sexy vibe. My friend noticed her. Took another look. Really noticed her. Shortly thereafter, as he and I were still talking, we saw her walk up to a couple around my age and address the man as “dad.” Turns out, she was the couple’s (very tall) 12-year-old daughter, who — when all dolled up — managed to look completely legal. My friend was horrified. Not so much because it was now apparent that the girl was dressed totally¬†inappropriately for her age, with hair and makeup totally inappropriate to her age, but because he — this good, stand-up friend of mine — had had “thoughts” about her when he thought she was a beautiful, totally legal woman. His mind had gone to a completely normal, natural, human place. He’d had the kind of thoughts a normal, natural, adult human male has about another adult human to whom he is attracted. But all of a sudden, the tables had turned. All of a sudden, my very moral friend realized he had unwittingly entertained dirty thoughts. No, they weren’t dirty when he thought them, but he felt ashamed anyway. My poor friend, who I would trust with my life and would allow to babysit my daughter in an instant — heck, he’s probably possessed of stricter ethics than I am — felt like he’d done wrong. He felt disgusted with himself and unclean.

This experience gave me another perspective on the whole “sexy girls and pedophiles” conversation, and from it, I have two points to make. First, if seeing a girl who is dressed in an inappropriately sexy fashion can result in a good, moral man thinking sexual thoughts about her (and for a good, moral man, this would only happen if she was “done up” enough to appear of age, but I digress), how much more easily would the same sight turn a fledgling pedophile’s thoughts in that direction? Second, seeing girls dressed like women ISN’T FAIR TO THE GOOD MEN! Dressing a little girl — or allowing a somewhat older girl to dress — in a manner that

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W loves board shorts. When she was younger (as in this photo, taken when she was one), I loved that they were easy-on, easy-off. Now, I love them because they make it easy for her to go potty!

could turn heads inappropriately isn’t fair to the good men who wouldn’t ever have a sexual thought about a 12-year-old, but by virtue of their normal humanity, go there at the sight of what appears to be a 19- or 20-year old. Now obviously, this latter point isn’t an issue with regard to 4-year-olds and sexy swimsuits, but really, once Pandora’s Box is open, it’s open. If a parent allows a 4-year-old to wear a string bikini, do they really think they’re going to coax a teenager back into a sensible one-piece? And mightn’t a well-developed 12- or 14-year old in that same string bikini — several sizes larger, and likely with pretty hair and well-done makeup to boot — allow good mens’ thoughts to wander until they realize the age of the woman (girl) they’re admiring?

And another thing: there are those who claim that because a little girl has no breasts, a two-piece is not inappropriate, sexy, or lascivious (as they claim it might be on a more developed 12-year-old). I disagree. There is nothing wrong with or socially inappropriate about the bare chest of a young child, boy or girl. Heck, my daughter wears board shorts to swim as often as she wears her beloved butterfly swimsuit. A two-piece covers more than nothing-but-a-pair-of-shorts, but in so doing, it draws attention to the chest of a young child in a way a one-piece or simple pair of shorts does not.* It draws the eyes. It makes the statement: “One day, there will be breasts sitting RIGHT HERE. One day, this little girl will be SEXUAL, and SEXY, and FERTILE.” That’s not something I, for one, want anyone thinking when they look at my little girl.

*I should point out, after the reader comment below, that I refer here not to the “sports bra” style tops that some two-pieces feature, but refer rather to “string bikini” tops and strapless tops. My barometer? If it’s (appropriately) sexy on an adult, it may cause the problems discussed here when worn by a child. If it’s inappropriately sexy on an adult…it shouldn’t even be up for discussion.

Ok, I’m done ranting now. What do you all think?

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 13:15:31

    I bought C a one piece and a pair of swimsuit bottoms (briefs) that go with a rash guard. I had a bikini picked out, but it didn’t seem to me that it would stay in place while we held her, and it didn’t offer much protection from the sun. I honestly wouldn’t give it much thought, if I saw a mom dress her little girl in a bikini. I was thinking of the outfits purely from a functionality and practicality perspective. I see your point though.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Apr 25, 2013 @ 13:40:13

      I should make it clear that there is (in my mind) a difference between tops that fit more like a sports bra and tops that are…triangles…and string…

      Reply

  2. Michael Lombardi
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 14:33:43

    I’m actually not all that much of a fan of little girls going topless, but now that I’ve been presented with the alternative of them wearing a string bikini top, I might be willing to concede that battle.

    I’m all for the kind of suits that cover everything. And I have no problem being seen as overly modest or a prude. It’s true that perverts will be perverts, but I’m with you, it’s easier to reel them out slowly then reel them back in once they have opinions of their own.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Apr 25, 2013 @ 15:52:50

      I suspect that people are fairly split — and probably in large part along cultural lines — with regard to the topless little girls issue. Further, there is a continuum all the way from “little girls should never be topless in public, even as babies” all the way through “breasts aren’t a big deal, and women should be just as free as men to wear bottoms only when swimming” (the latter being common in many European and some African and Asian cultures). My experience growing up was that until puberty, it was totally normal to run around with my cousins and friends in the summer and strip down to our underpants to swim, and no one thought anything of it. For the purpose of avoiding unpleasant confrontation, I will probably bow to prevailing mores regarding girls and top-coverage at the public pool this summer, now that W is “obviously” a girl, based upon her hair and facial features. Still, for swimming with the cousins or playing in the creek, I won’t have a problem with her going in shorts-only until puberty, depending upon her comfort.

      Reply

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