My family and I usually spend three to four weeks at the beach in the summer. I love my time at the beach, because I am able to completely detox from my everyday routine and just focus on the moment. This, evidently, also helps me rest, relax and restore. Come August, it is back to school in full swing and not only do I need to, but want to be excitedly ready!
I also love these weeks because my use of clothing decreases dramatically. Don't get me wrong, I am still clothed, but my family and I primarily wear bathing suits all day long. I'll admit I even wear my bathing suit to the grocery store!
Needless to say, bathing suit watching is one of my favorite diversions. I love to see what people of all ages are wearing and how they are wearing it. In my case, I am fascinated with retro/ modern bathing suits. I like bathing suits that are one-piece, boy-short length but thathave a modern texture component. Because I have a very detailed idea of how I like my bathing suits, I give my children free-reign over their choice of swim apparel. The only reason I would recommend my children not wear a one-piece bathing suit over a bikini or vice-versa would be because it was not flattering or the colors did not match their skin tone. I truly believe we are all equipped to make the right choices for ourselves and that mistakes are the pathway to wisdom.
My seven-year-old daughter stopped using her bikini at the beach because it was uncomfortable when she was body surfing. She still, however, uses it at the beach, because it is "easier and faster to put on".
My thirteen-year-old daughter wants to wear bikinis, not only because every other thirteen-year-old is wearing them,but also because she wants to tan her entire body.
My eleven-year-old daughter will fluctuate from wearing a rash-guard and surf shortsto a colorful snug-fitting bikini. It really just depends on her mood. I believe it boils down to comfort and self-esteem. Whatever feels great on your body is what you should wear. I don't think anyone but oneself can make the best choice of what or what not to wear.
My liberal and unique opinion was challenged asI was looking through my Instagram feed and found a picture of an old friend of mine. We used to be "BFF's" when we were in fifth and sixth grade. We grew apart and went very different directions in our lives. Thanks to social media, we have been able to meet up again. It is indeed, interesting to see the lives of people portrayed through the snapshots of what they like to share with their particular audiences. I learned through the photos that my friend was divorced and had a 9 year-old daughter.
She posted a "beach selfie" of herself in a provocative bikini alongside her daughter who was wearing a very childlike and not very flattering one-piece bathing suit. One person made a comment about the one-piece being "cute" and my friend responded it had taken a lot to convince her daughter to wear a one-piece instead of a bikini. The next reply was, "I know exactly what you mean, I'm going through the same thing with my daughter". I wondered why she wanted to halt her daughter's self-expression when she was liberally displaying her own? What message was her daughter going to receive?
While I understand the impulse to protect and preserve "innocence" I know for a fact that suppressing desires is not the best way to do it. I have learned through my own experiences that "what you resist persists". In other words, the very thing you wish to avoid will only keep emerging until you surrender to its existence.
I honestly don't think there is anything more beautiful and powerful than our human body. More importantly, I believe there is nothing more empowering than people loving and approving of every inch of their body in a healthy and open way. Having the ability to choose what to wear on one's body is a big step towards independence, maturity, creativity and self-confidence. More often than not when we authoritatively reject any experience for our children, it is our own fears and taboos that are surfacing, rather than any real and meaningful "parenting".
So, if you are facing the dilemma of allowing yourself to tolerate your daughter to wear a bikini, do yourself and your offspring a favor and let her decide. If she feels comfortable with the results, you can rest assured she is growing in self-confidence and the love of her own body image. If, she does not feel comfortable with the experience, make it a point to listen to what made her feel awkward. Subsequently, go shopping with her for a new bathing suit that will reignite her passion and excitement for summer!