My daughter is 8, she’s very self conscious about her body. For reasons unknown to both her dad and I she does not like to show her belly button and always chooses a swim suit that covers her navel. We like her modesty and always encouraged her to pick a swim suit she would feel comfortable “swimming” in.
During our visit to Spain late last year and early this year in France she noticed that many little girls at the pools and beaches who are the same age swam with only a bikini bottom. Curious, she asked me, “Mom, how come they don’t wear the other piece of their swim suit?”
Good question, and one I couldn’t quite answer.
Being raised in Hawaii, we normally don’t give swim wear another thought, other than its something to “go to the beach with”. Mixed matched tops and bottoms, shorts and shirts were often worn to the beach. No one really cared, as long as we were able to go into the water. But topless, we’ve never done and so I had no explanation but to say;
“In Europe, this is very normal. If you look around you’re the only girl with a top on.” I said.
“Is that why they are looking at me funny?”, she asked. I shrugged my shoulders and gave her a smile.
With just that answer she took off her bikini top and jumped into the pool.
I’m assuming it’s because she wanted to “fit in” with the rest of the little girls swimming nearby because shortly thereafter they were all friends.
I found it amusing that a 8-year old girl could feel self-conscience about her body for 2-3 years and then ditch that behavior in a second so she can play and make a few friends. When swimming in Europe, it’s normal for girls to swim topless until they are 10,11 or 12 years old. It’s only until they start “developing” that a parent would then buy 2-piece or one piece suits.
Summer is approaching, which means sun, sand and swimming! My concern at the moment is that she now prefers to swim topless and we’re headed back to Michigan where I’m sure if she continues to swim without her top another parent would tell me to cover her up and proceed to lecture me on my bad parenting skills.
I am proud my daughter is finally comfortable in her skin, her body. With so many teens and adults having body issues these days I am happy she’s finally not concerned or worried about what others are thinking, she just wants to swim and have fun like everyone else in the pool.
I understand that there are a lot of “perverts” out there, but aren’t they all over the world?
How do I tell her now to “cover up”, without making it an issue?