Posted: Jul 10, 2013 8:00 AM
 
I know that baby bikinis are innocent. Of course they are. And even though I've been tempted by the cutest, ruffliest, sweetest little Lycra, I've made the decision not to put my daughter in a style clearly intended for a grown woman.

I'm just not sure where the line is drawn between cute-as-pie and sexual. Of course, one usually isn't purposefully sexualizing their daughter, but the cuts of many children's swimsuits are made to mimic those from the women's section. Triangle tops, bottoms that tie on the side, those are designed to highlight the body. A woman's body. In a sexy way.

I want her to understand that the way she dresses herself comes from the inside. That how she chooses to cover up (or not) isn't haphazard.

Although it would be easy to add "fear of pedophiles" to this argument, that has almost nothing to do with why I don't purchase baby bikinis. In general, protecting her from the outside world isn't a factor in teaching my daughter modesty. Instead, I want her to understand that the way she dresses herself comes from the inside. That how she chooses to cover up (or not) isn't haphazard.

pink bikini

It's really not that different from wearing makeup or high heels, also things intended for women and not little girls. We wear these things in an effort to look more attractive, and, as a regular makeup and heel wearer myself, there is nothing wrong with that. But for my daughter, I don't want her focus to be on enhancing her beauty. She is encouraged to express her style, but not with the intention of showing off her body.

We spend a lot of time around water, so my family parades around in swimsuits often. In my younger years, even in the years since my daughter was born, I have worn a bikini. I was proud of my body, proud to highlight my curves. Lately, for my own comfort, I've taken to wearing cute one pieces. But whatever I choose, I am aware that how I treat and display my body will be reflected in my daughter. I aim to walk proud and feel pretty, but not to flaunt it in an overtly sexual way. It's a fine line.

I am aware that how I treat and display my body will be reflected in my daughter. I aim to walk proud and feel pretty, but not to flaunt it in an overtly sexual way.

I assume this conversation will morph as my daughter grows. I certainly wore bikinis when I was a teenager, padded tops and all! As she grows into a woman, I'll have to tread lightly not to stifle what is natural and beautiful. But for now, I'm careful how I dress myself and how I dress her. Body image and modesty lessons start early, and I want her foundation to be strong.

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