Earlier this week, I extolled the virtues of donning a thong bikini on the beach. I received a great deal of support from readers, but one subject that came up in the comments surprised me: whether it’s appropriate for 3- to 5-year-old girls to wear bikinis. Those opposed think the bikinis are too sexy for little girls, but I don’t see a problem with all little girl bikinis. (Bikini refers to all two-piece bathing suits, not just string bikinis.)When I was little, I had a bikini with two red apples covering my chest. My mom bought it because she thought it was cute. And looking back at baby pictures, I have to say that I looked really cute, not sexual.
It’s downright despicable that in this culture we have people who are turned on by children and prey on them sexually. Every parent or caregiver is expected to protect the child in their care and make decisions that keep them safe. But to assume that something is sexy simply because it exposes skin only makes us prisoners of our culture. People who oppose little girls wearing bikinis are heaping sexuality onto the girls, but the bikinis they’re wearing aren’t inherently sexy.
An itsy-bitsy bikini on a grown woman is sexy because she most likely has the parts to fill it out. A bikini on a little girl is funny and efficient. Little girls often have a little baby fat, so they end up looking like squishy bellies with limbs, which, in a bikini, can be hilarious. Bikinis can also be more efficient, as fieldmouse pointed out, because trying to pry a wet one-piece swimsuit off a squirmy child who has to go to the restroom is one extremely difficult task.
There’s nothing inherently sexual or pornographic about a young girl wearing a two-piece swimsuit. I’d even argue that newborns to 3-year-olds could go topless amongst people they know. However, there are sexually-inappropriate garments available for girls, like thongs, padded bras, and hip-hugger jeans. But these items, unlike bikinis, already have a sexual connotation regardless of the age of the person wearing them. Parents, however, have the responsibility to decide what clothing is appropriate for their child’s specific body. And it’s up to everyone else to not make children into sexual beings before their time.