Little girls in bikinis. Is this okay? Not okay? Should you even be reading this? Are we going to get arrested for talking about this? I am scared.
Last week my friend Gita sent me an article about how Gwyneth Paltrow designed a line of bikinis for 4-8 year old girls, and a group called Kidscape was outraged that she was promoting the sexualization of young girls.
I wasn’t sure what I thought about little girls in bikinis, but I was sure that the 5-year old model was way skinnier than me, so I immediately committed to getting back to my birth weight. Then…the next day I opened the mail and my mom had sent The Munch a bikini! Coincidence? Irony? Or was the bikini actually for me and my mom was trying to inspire my new diet goals of weighing 7 pounds 4 ounces?
Of course The Munch was really excited about her new bathing suit and immediately wanted to put it on. She was at first confused about the idea of a top and didn’t get it.
Toni: “See… It’s just like Mamma’s Munch.”
Munch: “Ohhhhhhh. I see. I see. To cover my nanas.” (which is what she calls boobs).
Then she tried on the bottoms, but it was too big, So The Munch did what any normal person would do. Took off the bottoms and just wore the top – for the rest of the entire day.
So now that my daughter not only has a bikini, but is wearing half of one, what do I think about this? Does clothing sexualize little girls? Or does the observer? If someone is going to see a child as sexy, does it matter what the kid is wearing? Or does their perversion exists regardless of apparel? I am not sure – I am kind of the thinking that if someone is going to be turned on by kids, its because there is something wrong with them, and putting the child in a Yves Saint Laurent dress isn’t going to make a shit bit difference.
But I do think the fashion for children has changed drastically since I was a kid, and there is something creepy about it. My biggest issue is that kids now look like mini-adults rather than children.
This was never an issue I had to contend with. When I was young we didn’t have low wasted jeans or Baby-Tees to chose from. Clothes were distinctly for kids. As a pre-teen Pearl Jam was the shit and grunge was what was in style. All my pants were baggy corduroys, and all my shirts were long sleeve plaids. In high school, hip hop was the main cultural influence – so again all my pants were baggy and my t-shirts oversized. I wasn’t hiding my body on purpose, I was just wearing what was considered cool. I didn’t wear a tight pair of pants, or shirt that fit me, until I was in my 20’s.
Now leggings, skinny jeans, high heel boots, and tight tops are the current things to wear. In order for your kid to fit in, they have to be somewhat hip to the trends. But is this look problematic? I don’t think little boys are necessarily seeing the girls as more sexual -because they are too busy thinking they have cooties, but I do question how little girls start seeing themselves.
I remember as a child being fascinated by the idea of being a woman. What it would be like to have tits, or my period, were concepts I was intrigued by. But the truth is that we are women for 80% of our lives. It is such a short time where we get to be kids, so why not fully immerse ourselves in the experience of it.
Maybe what kids wear can contribute to their growing up too fast, or maybe it really doesn’t matter. I tend to believe that valuing your childhood happens within the context of your parents treasuring it as well. That childhood is more of a state of mind that is preserved through environment. Maybe once The Munch grows into the bottom half of her bikini I will think differently, but under these circumstances, all I see is a crazy little girl mooning me.