Since she was about 2, E and I have had some pretty epic clothing battles. From a very young age, she’s had very strong and distinct opinions on what she should be wearing.
I’m a firm believer in picking your battles, and most times, clothing just didn’t rise to the top of that list. Of course, there were times when I had to drop the hammer and tell her no, particularly when she opted for shorts and tanks during our Florida “winters” and heavy sweaters during the summer. But sometimes, I lost those battles, too.
When this picture was taken it was about 98 degrees (holla!), with 100 percent humidity, and she was wearing a heavy turtleneck dress. Because, of course.
The day she started wearing uniforms to school, I started crying happy tears. Our mornings got about 1,000 percent easier.
There’s one rule, though, that we’ve never caved on — no bikini bathing suits.
It honestly was something I’d never even considered when we first had our precious daughter until someone gifted us with a teeny tiny two-piece. As soon as I opened it, it felt a bit icky but I wondered if it was just me. Nope, as soon as my husband got home, he immediately said, “Nope. No way. It’s getting returned or given away. She’s NOT wearing that.”
I can’t even remember who bought it for us, but it was very innocent. I think it may have even had a Disney character on it. It just felt wrong, though.
It’s never been an issue. E’s had her picks of Disney suits, two-piece sunshade shirt options and some adorable one-pieces.
For the record, I wish I had that pink ballerina suit.
This year, though, it’s all changed. A couple weeks ago, I came home with a new one-piece Speedo … in DUKE BLUE … for her, and her first reaction was, “Well, Mommy, I kind of like it, but this year, I want a two-piece instead.”
I kept the one-piece but told her I’d start looking around. And this is what’s out there.
The first two are from Justice (no surprise there) and the third one is from Old Navy. And yes, all three come in my daughter’s size, 6.
I finally found a tankini-style suit that I thought she’d like and again, I got a lukewarm reaction.
“No, Mommy, I didn’t want one that covers my belly. I want one that just covers these (pointing to her chest).”
Sigh. Big heavy sigh. Where is she picking this up?
Am I just a prude? Seriously, I want to know. Because there is no way my daughter is wearing a suit like the ones above for some time. I’m no Jessica Simpson.
I want her to love her body and have no fear or shame associated with it. She’s never heard me describe myself or anyone else (well, other than the cat) as fat. I’ve worn two pieces, including a mix of bikinis and tankinis, around her, and I no qualms with her being around older girls and women in them. Hell, half the time, one member of our family is walking around practically naked. We discuss bodies, we discuss being proud of our strong and healthy bodies and we discuss doing things, like eating well and exercising, to make ourselves healthier and stronger.
But bikinis for little girls? That’s just something that doesn’t feel right for us.
From a practical standpoint, that’s just that much more sunscreen I have to wrestle onto her body. And as an avid sand-castle builder, it’s also that much more of her body that’s exposed to the sand as she digs massive holes and gets buried.
But it’s more than that, obviously. I know she doesn’t know the concept of “sexy” yet but I can’t help but think these is her first time wanting to look a certain way. A certain older way. And it scares the shit out of me.
I explained to her, as she kept rolling her tankini top higher and higher on her body, that we can revisit the topic in a couple years, but for the time being, this is the kind of suit that is appropriate for an adventurous 6-year-old like herself.
And yes, I even had to drop the “I’m not Ashley’s mom, I’m your mom” retort when she whined that her friend had a small two-piece. Her teenage years are going to be fun.
I think I’ve mostly appeased her for now. I’m already dreading the summer where we’ll be sure to hang out with her friends in their inevitable two-pieces. Mostly, I’m dreading her making it a situation, forcing me to confront my rule in front of her friends and more importantly, their mothers, my friends.
This, like every other issue having to do with parenting, is totally a judgment and personal call for families to make. I hesitated to even write this because I don’t want to come off as judging other moms. Hell, I’m ALWAYS the first person to share the “moms need to stop judging other moms” posts. And I know you could list 18 things right now that I do as a parent that you would NEVER, ever do.
I guess this is just another example lately of how hard parenting seems to be getting the older E. gets. Every issue just seems to feel as if it has the potential to become a big, ’80s sitcom-style teaching moment. I’m probably putting too much emphasis on this point with E. by making it an issue, but it’s just one of those things I know I need to trust my gut on. Even if it makes my kid temporarily hate my guts.
What’s one parenting decision you’ve struggled to stick to your guns on? Is there a baby/toddler/kid trend that drives you crazy, too?
Oh, Mom…so difficult to maneuver the shifting sands of raising a strong child…I applaud you!
Thanks! I know someday I’ll look back at this battle and wish that it was the toughest thing I was dealing with! I know it’s just preparing me to learn how to make a decision and stick with it. Being the bad guy isn’t fun, is it?
Pick and choose your battles, for sure… and once you do, stick to it!
The sticking with it really is the hard part, isn’t it?
I totally agree with you about the bikini. I won’t have that problem, but if I had a girl, there’s no way I would put her in one of these. In France, little girls wear just a bottom, nothing on top, until a certain age, which I think is healthy, since it clearly shows that there’s nothing to hide there, therefore there’s nothing sexual. I understand that the norms are different here, so I would just go with a one-piece.
I am starting to find out that other parents are making parenting that much harder. I know you guys are big into Star Wars, but I don’t think my soon-to-be 5 year old is ready for violent movies. Of course, there’s one boy at school who is all about Star Wars and talks it up all the time. Now, I have to answer questions about Jedis, Darth Vader (and the White-Vaders … apparently StormTroopers have a new name), and deal with whining about wanting to watch the movie. Oh, did I mention we’re going to said-boy’s birthday party this weekend? And the theme is…. Star Wars! Yey!
I wish that was the same norm for our girls! Like I said, I have no problems with nudity and with her appreciating her body. I just don’t like the emphasis the bikini tops I’ve found seem to put on a young girl’s chest. Fringe for toddlers? Sigh.
Yeah, we’re certainly guilty of allowing our daughter to watch Star Wars and perhaps other forms of entertainment other parents would find questionable. And for the record, I’ve never heard them referred to as White Vaders, so maybe that’s just that boy’s interpretation? Have you tried watching the cartoon series the Clone Wars? The entire series is on Netflix now. Maybe you and your husband could watch an episode or two and see how that is, then make a decision. Just a thought!
Of course, like you and I both said, it’s our prerogative to make these calls for our kids no matter what their friends are doing. But boy is it hard!
Regarding Star Wars, I think it’s different with boys, because they are so much all about fighting that we feel that’s all he’ll get out of it and is not yet old enough to sort things out properly. We just want to stick to happy-Disney movies for at least one more year… (and so do most of his friends’ parents — except for the one, who happens to have violent tendencies and has discipline issues at school).
The “White-Vaders” is their invention, — they think it’s Dark-Vader, because he’s black, and therefore, the other ones are White-Vaders, lol!
Stick to your guns for the bathing suit!
I see little girls in bikinis and I don’t think anything of it, especially not as being sexy. Well, maybe not that suit on the left that you posted but the Old Navy one is cute and covers more than most bikinis I think. Sounds like she just wants to be like her friends. Definitely personal preference though.
Obviously, I have no parenting experience but I thought it was kinda crazy that my brother would let his 14 year old sons watch Tosh.O. He said, “they’re gonna be exposed to it anyway.” I guess that’s true but it doesn’t mean you have to be the one doing it.
For Pants’ and Hamm’s sake, I’ll pretend that you said you don’t have any parenting experience. 🙂
The Old Navy one isn’t bad, I agree. I guess I just get why they even HAVE to have bikinis. They’re not practical and it’s clearly an attempt to miniaturize an adult outfit. And you’re right — it’s very much about wanting to be like her friends. I started seeing more and more smaller two-pieces last year when they were 5 and I’m sure there will be even more this year. Do you think a burqa is possible?
I completely agree with you. Molly got a bikini for her first (!) birthday and it went right back. There’s a line, for us at least, as Chrisitians, between modesty and appreciating your body and keeping it healthy, etc. The husband and I haven’t talked in depth about it yet, but we do agree with the no bikinis for a long time rule. There’s so many cute bathing suits, the bikinis, well, most of them anyway, just seem so sexy!
All I can say is enjoy the next few years of complete control while you can! I’m hoping to woo her with adorable tankini/one-piece options for at least this year. It’s been an interesting period. She also doesn’t want any Disney character ones (including Frozen) because those are “for babies.” Sigh.
Marcee ... ILLINOIS says
Not liking itsy-bitsy bathing suits on babies. Or kids. Just isn’t necessary. There are plenty of high fashion and pretty suits without over exposing a child’s body, or sensitive skin from sun. As for JS, she can do whatever. Wait until the daughter is older. Then the mama will be pulling out her hairs in protest of showing too much! I recall JS commenting in an interview she’d never approve or let her children wear Crocs!?! So ridic. I say she practices growing up with her kiddos.
Try “Landsend” they have 2 piece that are more conservative
No TV/Movies/Screens is one that I stick with no matter what, there are so many other things could be doing instead of staring. My 6yr old spends his time playing outside, reading books, listening to audio books, etc. I live with my parents and my mom in particular thinks he should be allowed to watch TV, but he has never even asked!
This is a battle I’m all too familiar with – with two girls. I did let them get bikinis but with the swim shirts and they have to wear those. I will let them wear the two piece at home . It’s just one of those battles that you either pick or don’t. Your child – your choice!
I have a question, based on something you said above.
Did you ask E why she wanted a two piece?
I get the idea of having the heebie jeebies about sexualizing little girls (the hooker wear at the store, i can’t even), but I don’t know that a two piece HAS to be sexualizing them. (the fringe you posted.. that is questionable.. but the other two… they don’t strike me as being as bad).
i guess if I was in your position, I’d ask D why she wanted to wear a two piece. If the only reason she could articulate was because her friends had them, then NO, not good enough. If she could manage to explain to me a viable reason, that had nothing to do with looking like a buxom lady, I think I’d be ok with it.
D, for example, is totally ripped. If she said to me “Mommy, look how ripped my abs are! I’d like to get them tanned so you can appreciate the shading in my 6 pack.” Touche kid, I get that. Still, that battle is a ways off for me (i hope… jesus)
I’ve found myself changing all kind of things of what i thought i would be as a parent vs what i am as a parent now that i had a kid. i thought i’d be all anti tv and FIRMLY anti princess/girly stuff but i’m pretty much caving on both of those. I Feel like if the television is (1) reasonably stimulating/educational and/or 2) something that I’m actively watching/discussing WITH her, then I don’t really see the harm in it.
Christine (Cook the Story) says
Oh dear! I hadn’t even though of this. Em is 2 and we have put her in some pretty cute two pieces. But with her rolls of baby chub she just looks cute. Now I’m rethinking it. As cute as it is at 2, it won’t be cute but will be creepy when she’s 6. You’re right, the issues get more intense and difficult the older they get!
I haven’t put my daughter in a bikini. There’s no need for it (she’s three!) + it’s just more sunscreen to apply.
Let’s let our little girls look like little girls!
As we’ve discussed… I am not a huge fan of bikini’s on L, but she has a few hand-me-downs and I let her wear them depending on the event/location. It’s less the “being sexy” of it all – and more to do with creepers and applying sunscreen.
I actually prefer wearing a bikini (mainly because it’s hard for me to find one pieces/tankini’s that fit my short torso properly – I’m so hard to shop for!), so I know at some point it won’t be the battle I pick to fit anymore. Then, of course, there will be bigger battles on the horizon.
I’m so with you, Jackie, and Stacey above. No need for a bikini and too much sun. Can we also discuss girls underwear that is bikini or hip hugger cut? What?!? So not on board.
The non-fashion kid trend I hate is parents following their kids around at parks. And those same parents looking non-approvingly at me on the sidelines chatting with a friend or reading a book (or looking at my phone let’s be honest). I want my kids to figure out how to do stuff and play without me hovering over them. You do NOT need to help my kid up on a ride or swing and give me an annoyed look. She’ll figure it out. That’s the way i want them to be. Thank you very much. Is this not the type of trend you were asking about?
Naomi Broderick says
I try to be open minded, but I’m with the majority of you. Even if the little tyke could articulate that she wants a tan. Well I don’t think I need to help her to start working on a future skin cancer diagnosis. At one point she’ll be able to choose if she wants to take that risk, but until then we’ll dealing with a cranky, sunburned 4-year-old is something I don’t need to deal with.
hi i’m a first time reader, this is the first full post i’ve read here and i already know i’ll be back. and i just had to join the discussion.
i totally feel you on the two-piece front. to be honest, when i was a kid (in my country, which is far from yours) little girls who aren’t growing boobies yet either had one-piece suits or just bikini bottoms. the bikini bottoms were sold without the tops – in fact the first time i ever even saw a proper bikini “set” for little girls was when i was 8! and somehow i feel like covering non-existent boobies is in itself a way of sexualizing them. i mean, hello, boys have the exact same kind of chest! plus kids are so innocent. i never had any problem understanding why my mum covers her chest at the beach and i don’t. once my boobs started showing a little bit i spontaneously started feeling body-conscious about them and asked for a swinsuit/bikini with a top.
but things are different nowadays and i feel like too many clothes for little girls have rhinestones, animal prints, high heels (!!) etc on them, too much of it is designed to deliberately emulate their mother’s clothes and that trend is so inappropriate to me. i don’t have a daughter yet, but i hope to have one in the not too distant future, and i will be hunting for a childlike two-piece suit as soon as that sonogram reveals it’s a girl. just to be safe in case she comes up with the same request as your daughter. i never wore swimsuits as a kid or as an adult because i find them uncomfortable, all the fabric kind of gets in the way, so i would at least partly sympathize if my daughter wanted a bikini.
personally i can’t stand the idea of little girls (omg babies even!) in mini skirts. like denim minis that ride up like hell. what’s up with that? a colleague of mine who teaches first grade had to tell one of his students’ parents not to send her to school in mini skirts if they’re not going to wear pantyhose underneath, because the kid being a kid sat in her chair with her legs open sometimes – unconsciously of course, cause a kid doesn’t even think about that sort of thing, but it’s still inappropriate. as a parent you either teach them how to wear a skirt or edit their wardrobe to prevent inappropriate situations.
thanks for the inspiring topic!