Bikinis for Little Girls: Yay or Nay?

should young girls wear bikinisI’ve seen some cringe-worthy stuff at the beach this year. Old men in too-tight swim trunks. Teenagers engaged in very obvious, very sweaty PDA. And then there’s the remnants of a long summer’s day in a odorous public beach bathroom.

I’ll give you time to shudder at that last one.

I think the old men in inappropriate swim trunks bother everybody because no one wants to see that. But it’s the other end of the spectrum that people have differing – and strong – opinions about: young girls in teeny bikinis.

Right now my girls are ages 4 and 7, and neither wants to wear a bikini. They both picked out cute Lands’ End skirted swimsuits and they love twirling around in them. Annie says bikinis are annoying because she’s nervous the suit would move around and expose her. She’s just beginning to get a little modest about showing her body so I get her concerns.

And honestly? I’m glad. Because I see girls her age and younger in teeny bikinis and it strikes me as a little weird. They look like little grownups – but they’re not. They’re children. And I think their bathing suits should reflect that.

And I get really icked out when I see tweens walking around in very small, very grown-up bikinis – and older boys and men checking them out.

So I started thinking about it – WHY is this bothering me so much? Why is my mom-radar going off when I see young girls in small bikinis? Why do I want to cover them up with a towel? And when it comes down to it, it’s because of my own experience with bikinis.

I wore a bikini (starting when I was 15) to show off my cute little body. To get tan. To meet boys. To feel pretty and attractive. To me, that’s what a bikini is for. And I have no problem with this for older high-school girls who have confidence in their bodies and themselves – and understand their value is more than a cute body.

But I do have a problem with small bathing suits on small kids. Because the fact is, we live in a world where girls are inundated with marketing messages about what being attractive and awesome is. And too often, attractive and awesome = sexy. Which my little girls cannot possibly understand.

I don’t want my kids portraying something they don’t understand. I want them to understand their value and self-worth and why all their awesomeness has nothing to do with whether or not they can rock a bikini.

And when I see they do understand this and they are of a certain age? They can wear bikinis.

But until then, it’s Lands’ End skirted suits and tankinis all the way.

How do you feel about little girls wearing small swimsuits? What about tweens? What’s your stance?

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