I take my daughter swimming. A lot.
We swim at least once a week for most of the year. In the summer, we often swim two or three times a week.
My daughter needs to have an assortment of swimming suits (or else I'd have to do laundry every other day, and that's not happening).
The weather is getting warmer, and my daughter's swimsuits from last year are not fitting well. We picked up a nice Speedo suit a few weeks ago, but I have been on the lookout for two or three more.
Today, my mom and I were in a big box store (which shall remain nameless, so don't ask) when we passed through the clothing section.
Grace is really between sizes, fitting nicely into both a 5T or a girls' 5. We found the girls' swimsuits first.
I thought we were in the Victoria's Secret swimsuit section.
I'm not kidding.
There were a total of 10 different styles of girls' bathing suits.
- 60% were 2-piece suits, belly-baring bikinis.
- 40% were 1-piece suits. Every single one had cut outs in the sides. Many also had cut outs in the front and back. For the most part, the 1-piece suits were little more than bikini tops attached to bikini bottoms.
I was shocked and appalled. The more I thought about it, I became furious.
Who decided that sexy bathing suits were appropriate for small children?
Would it be appropriate for little boys to wear revealing bikini suits? Of course not. So why are they being sold for little girls?
Did anyone in the supply chain, from designer to manufacturer to store buyer to store manager pause to think about these bathing suits?
We're talking about little girls, beginning with size 4. Toddlers. Preschoolers. Elementary school children.
They don't belong in sexy swimsuits.
We left the girls' department and headed toward the baby and toddler section. We found 3 traditional, respectable 1-piece suits there, all adorned with commercial characters. (Not my favorite but a huge improvement over what we'd just seen.)
We found bikini styles, a halter-style 1-piece, and a 1-piece with cut outs, similar to the ones we'd seen in girls'. Two of them had cups and strings.
Cups and strings!
For toddlers and babies.
I was under the impression that cups were to provide support for breasts, but apparently I'm wrong.
We did find a wonderful 2-piece suit that will be convenient for potty training - wet bottoms are easier to remove than a wet 1-piece when rushing to the potty. It's essentially a tankini, and it will provide full coverage of Grace's little body.
Aside from that one, the pickings were slim.
I was still angry when we left the store.
What's next? Bikini waxes? Thong bikinis?
Who decided that sexy, body-baring bathing suits were appropriate for small children?
I don't know whose idea these swimsuits were, but my daughter will not wear such trash as long as I have a say. I don't care whether she is 2 or 6 or 12, her body will be covered.
Photo credit Svandilari
Thank you for this post. I too recently wrote post about the inappropriate bathing suits that are being made for our little girls. I have four daughters, so this is an issue! Thank you for taking the time to write this. Keep it up! 🙂
Exactly! That's exactly what a lot of them looked like, garb for a
mini Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Gross!
I am so with you on this one. No bikinis. No cutouts. No cups designed to make it look like there is something there that isn't. I hunt long and hard every year for 2-3 suits for my girl that meet my standard of being a solid one-piece without *shudder* sex appeal.
It appalls me to think that someone thinks I want to dress my small child in a suit that would make me ask a teenager if she really wanted to show everything off. I do not want to suggest with clothing that someone could look at my child as sexy. I don't want to suggest that there are wee breasts to consider - I'd rather a small child go in just bottoms than in a bikini top, really, but around here, we wear suits that cover our tummies. After all, not only am I horrified by the sexualizing of young children, but we also have sunburn to worry about on our fair skin.
As my best friend says, if it's not for sale, we don't advertise it.
I did also find once at old navy a suit that was full-coverage bottoms plus a surf-style top that was like a T-shirt. Again, full coverage, but two pieces, which would work well without being too revealing.
I am with you - at least no top is just little kids being free and suggests that this kid is small enough for it not to be an issue, whereas with a little bikini top with cups, it seems like you're being suggestive about what's under there, somehow.
The book "Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing our Daughters' from Marketers' Schemes" is a great resource for understanding and navigating the waters of girls clothing, toys, etc.
I'm partial to Lands End, LL Bean, Carter's and Gymboree. My 2 year old has a total of four this year because she can still wear last years suits. Three are tank-ini's and one is a cute polka dot one piece that we found at a big box store last year. I think tankini's are a nice option that provides two piece ease with the coverage of a one piece.
Robyn's Online World says
I totally agree with you! Even tho I have a son, I do still see the girls clothes at the stores and am SHOCKED at some of the stuff I see for girls. Why are they putting such slutty clothing out their for little girls and why are some parents dressing their girls in those kinds of clothing? It makes me want to pull my hair out!
Oh I'm so with you here! We do tankini styles for the ease of using the restroom too and it's been getting harder and harder to find options that are 'decent' for young girls. I can't imagine why the cutouts and cups are necessary - except to mimic what the adult suits look like. I'm sorry - but I don't want to see my preteen or teenager in a bikini either, nor do I wear them myself (wouldn't, even if I did have the body for it - which I don't). I just don't see the need to show off that much skin, not to mention more coverage is better where the sun is concerned too. It's not just a style issue - it's a safety one. I think we may start to look for the swim shirts and such this year. Great post!
Sing it! As the mom of two girls (a kid and a tween), I was so annoyed by all the sexy options. My kids were too - and they CHOSE board shorts and those sunblocking swim shirts instead. So now they look like surfers in the pool. There really should be some middle ground.
I noticed that Beth commented about Hannah Anderssen. I remember liking the toddler clothes from that catalog - I'll have to check it out for girls' swim wear. Thanks, Beth.
Amen! I agree completely - and it's not just with swimsuits. I've seen so many summer tops that just aren't appropriate for little girls! And the cheapskate in me wants to know why I should pay so much for almost no fabric, too. Thank goodness for Lands End.
I love that - If it's not for sale, we don't advertise it. Very well said.
Heather Adams says
I just wanted to say that I buy Dylan's swimsuits from old navy, they are two piece but the top is rash guard type top, not a belly baring top. I feel the same way you do about scandalous swimsuits for toddlers.
Tara - I wasn't sure if you saw this or not but it appears someone is pressuring stores and it's working.
Thanks for sharing that! I am so glad to see that something is happening on the swimsuit front.
We have been in 3 other stores since this happened, and the selection has been the same in all three. Boo!
I think you're right on!
I have two little girls myself and the bathing suit styles they offer are simply horrible. The cut way too low top that is to show off cleavage (hello my 7 year old and 5 year old don't have any!!!) the ity bitty teeny tiny bottoms that barely cover thier behinds, oh I don't understand the buyers and the designers, don't some of them have little girls they worry about??
I think they can look just as cute in modestly cut suits, they want what they see in the stores and on thier favorite celebrities.There really is not much to pick from. I make alot of my girls skirts and dresses for the same reasons, now if I could just find a cute bathingsuit pattern:)
You are so right! It makes me angry. Half the bathing suits I find for my 4 year old daughter are too revealing on the back side too!! She complains they give her a wedgy. And it is not just bathing suits. Much of what I see out there for little girls are just smaller versions of what teenagers wear! Too sexy. All it does is reinforce for little girls what society already says: your worth is in your beauty and sex appeal. It is wrong!
You need to goto Kmart and shop the toddler swimwear! I think you will like what you find. Very cute suits at great prices and they have coverage.
I congratulate you on this comment I have 2 little girls 5 and 8 and I hate the selections they have at the stores and it's not just swim suits. We need more people to be concerned for our little girls and what they look like. I'm not raising a hoochie and I don't plan on stopping to make anyone happy. So thanks again now I know i'm not alone in this.
This is so true about little girls swimming suits, preteen suits, teenager suits, young adult suits, middle age suits and geriatric swimming suits. If your a female and you want to wear a new swimming suit, your going to have to show some cleavage. As I am typing this in my new swimming suit with my breast showing. I am 51 year old shamed woman, but I have no choice.
This is something that we've struggled with since my daughter was young. We've never allow her (she will be 17 in Jan.) to have a bikini. They are just not appropriate and encouraging - especially to boys. Our Youth Group does not allow them. Two years ago, I finally caved in and allowed her to get a tankini and those have worked out great. They make going to the restroom so much easier and it is possible to find a modest one. She has to raise her arms above her head and her stomach not show (The reach test in Youth Group).The search may take a bit longer, but possible. Our daughter actually searches for Boy Short - (longer type) bottoms or finds shorts that are appropriate.
I totally agree and I don't even have a daughter. But I did find that Old Navy has some 1 piece suits that are very cute and affordable and they have no holes in them 🙂
Amen, sister! But just wait until they get older. Why is everything marketed to tweens and teens made of tissue-thin material so we have to also buy an undershirt, or cropped too short to wear to school? My son can go and buy ONE shirt and when he speaks, people look at his face but my daughters have to buy a shirt, an undershirt, a shrug or cardigan and on and on. Then there are the giant armholes that show half your bra on the sides or the low-cut tops that you automatically have to wear another shirt under. You'd think if they really want to push "Girl Power" instead of emblazoning slogans on things, they'd make clothes that let girls show their self-respect.
Tara Ziegmont says
I hear you! My daughters were small when I wrote this, but they are now 8 and 11. I get so frustrated with the options available to them!