Thursday, March 31, 2011

So What’s Wrong with My Daughter Wearing a Bikini?

New to Mom Seriously? Porn and Purity is an ongoing series of unique articles seeking to help parents understand this cultural issue and its impact on our familes. Read all the articles HERE.

Porn and Purity, Christian Education by Rebecca Ingram Powell

Recently the media has been all over a well-known retailer who introduced a spring swimwear line featuring a girl’s padded bikini, with sizing options of 7 and up. Amid the uproar over the past several days, the retailer has back-pedaled, now saying it believes the bikini is best “suited” for girls 12 and up.

 I’m still not happy.

 Certainly, almost everyone can agree that a padded bikini for 7-year-old girls is ridiculous, unhealthy, and perverted, but what makes it okay for 12-year-olds?

Beliefs. Are boobs really that great? Well, in our culture, yeah, it appears so. Pornography, by God’s definition, is everywhere: movies, advertisements, websites, and television; all resting on an unrestrained fascination with that part of the female anatomy. From padded bras to plastic surgery, the belief exists that when it comes to women’s breasts, “the bigger the better.” But what about in my family? And what about in my own mind and heart? As a mom, I don’t want my nineteen-year-old daughter to think her worth and value rests on her figure. And I didn’t want that happening when she was 12, either. Is a padded top necessary for your 12-year-old? And for that matter, is a bikini necessary? When it comes to our Christian families, the answer is no to both.

 Behavior. If you don’t think a bikini changes the behavior and atmosphere of a group setting, then it’s been a while since you’ve been to youth group. One youth pastor I know, who manages a group of several hundred kids, told me, “Moms think their daughters look cute. But that’s not what the boys are thinking. In fact, if those same moms knew what the boys were thinking, they wouldn’t think it was cute at all.” Into our sexually-charged culture comes a girl who brings pornography to life with her two-piece.
  • What was avoided becomes available.
  • What was hidden becomes familiar.
  • What was taboo (Is it okay with you for your daughter to run around in her bra and panties?) becomes acceptable.
Get Real! A Bible Study for
 7th grade - up
When girls who are fearfully and wonderfully made begin to believe that they are just anatomy, when they are provoked to enhance fresh tween skin with make-up and glitter and their barely budding bodies with built-in padding, I call it identity theft. And I think what we choose to put on our bodies (or what we decline to put on) results primarily from what we choose to put in our minds. Are you feeding your daughter with a steady diet of God’s Word? Are you yourself feasting daily at His table, so that what overflows from your heart pours directly into hers? Are you teaching her to feed herself? Or are you letting the culture do it for you? The culture will gladly take over your parenting gig. Fight it every step of the way—even if it starts with a bikini, it will most certainly not end there.

How Do I Explain Modesty to My Young Child?

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Danielle said...

Oh, man! Amen, Rebecca!

Recently I went to take my daughter, who is 11, to buy some bras. Granted, she is bigger built like her mother, but what they had for young girls disgusted me! Padded bras and demi-cups. Not in a million years!

We had to go into the womens section--which wasn't much better. We finally settle on a soft-satiny sports bra type. Which, $15 later, gah!! For an 11 year old.

Shan said...

Another Amen here!

Danielle...I am equally disgusted trying to find spring/summer dresses for my daughter. Everything either wants to flaunt her top or her bottom. I've given up. I have my sewing machine out!

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Thanks, so much for your comments, Danielle and Shan!
Danielle, just wait: $15 is a bargain!
Shan, girl, you go with the sewing! I sure wish that was something I could have picked up!

I actually have lots more to say on this subject, so stay tuned! :)

TerriG said...

Rebecca: Thank you! I'm tweeting this one.

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Thanks, Terri!

Jen said...

While I completely agree with everything said here, I just wanted to point out that some bathing suits (and some bras) can be very immodest WITHOUT some light padding. Keep in mind what happens when you're suit gets wet ;). for this reason, we try to find a MODEST suit that has some light padding to avoid issues like that. Of course, it's very hard to find full coverage, lightly padded modest suits! LOL! Also, we wear shorts over our one piece suits for some added coverage. It's definitely a challenge to teach modesty in this day and age. As a mom of both boys and girls, I definitely try to teach my girls to dress in a way that will not be "tempting" to a boy. I definitely don't want my boys viewing immodesty.

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Hi Jen,

thanks for your comments! Shopping for a swimsuit is definitely challenging. Thanks for your tips!:)

Dana said...

I have not kind words for that particular company, but I will put in a light defense of lightly padded bras for the tween age. When a young woman just starts developing, they help smoothe out the general look, drawing less attention. Or so I've found with my daughter, at least.

We walked through the bikin aisle and my 12yo wanted to know who would wear underwear that bright. I told here it was swimwear and she didn't believe me. "Why would anyone wear less at the beach than they do under their clothes? And how do you keep it on when it just ties together?"

I had to laugh.

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...


Your daughter's innocent question is so refreshing! who indeed? LOL

And just to be clear, I'm not against some light padding to aid in covering up and smoothing--I'm talking about padding that adds cup sizes, and specifically, the padding of these bikinis for little girls. :)

Dana said...

I know. But when I first read about the outrage over padded bras, that's what immediately came to mind. Because it is what I buy for my little girl. :)

Now if I could learn to proofread before hitting publish. Two typos in one comment!

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Oh, Dana, please don't worry about typos around here! :) And thanks so much for reading my blog!

Danielle said...

I didn't mean $15 for two... it was $15 for one! It was over $30 to buy her just two new bras. I don't even like to spend that much on myself!lol

@Shan... I had that problem a couple years ago buying dresses. We did find some at Old Navy, she just has to wear a tank top under it. They actually still fit her! Imagine that! She's grown about 6 or more inches and gained a good 15-20lbs.

I'm learning to sew, but I'm not so good... my daughter however is taking classes at a local place and she's in the process-- with one of the instructors-- of creating a dress from a smaller girls one. She's learning how to make it her size, a women's 10. I cannot wait! It's gonna be so sweet and age appropriate.

If you guys wouldn't mind... I'm starting an online ministry for girls. Would you check it out? Look around and leave a comment. Follow us if you'd like.

MelaKamin said...

really well said - thank you for this timely reminder as I have an 11 year old and am going to speak to a group of teenage girls soon - this has been on my mind

karriwoods said...

Thank you for your timely article. I just took my 12 year old daughter bathing suit shopping. We got out of the store with something age appropriate and modest. However, not cheap! That being said though, I would gladly pay the extra money for something I know she won't fall out of, or show off skin that doesn't need to be seen in public. We found some Nike swim shorts with a suit bottom sewn in. The top is a full coverage tankini. Momma, Daddy and daughter approved. LOL... even her 16 year old brother said it was nice, which was great because he's made comments to her about her shorts she wears to dance class being too short :-P

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Thanks, Mel and Karri!
Mel, God bless you as you speak to that group!
And Karri, congrats on finding a decent suit for your daughter! It's not easy! :)

Debra Mayhew said...

This was beautifully written. Thank you for the encouragement and reminder of what precious gifts our children are. My 11 year old daughter is very beautiful, but not because of how she looks. Her light shines through and I pray she finds a spouse one day who will notice that first. The wonderful thing is that she's already praying for the same thing! As parents we need to stay strong, lead by example, and pray that our children will know what their worth is.

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Thanks, Debra!

Anonymous said...

So my daughter can't wear a bikini because a young man might have impure thoughts?? Wow. That's a new take on it. Do you also blame a young girl who gets raped? Unbelievable.

Penny said...

I grew up with a feminist mother and a pastors wife who was feminist. They often told me it did not matter what I wore and I was not responsible for the thoughts of other people.

Fast forward to my adult years and researching the Bible for examples of godly womanhood.

I now understand that in loving other people, I will not present my self in any way which will cause them to stumble. If that means I refuse to cuss, drink alcoholic beverages in public or private, or dress in any sensual manner.

The world does not revolve around me, but around my Savior whom I want to honor.

{It is difficult to find modest clothes and swimwear. I personally have had to go on line and find people who sew modest clothes and swim wear. }

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Thanks, Penny! I appreciate your heartfelt words!

Beth said...

Would I send my sons to youth group summer outings in a speedo swimsuit with "enhancement" in the male privates area? That would be no.

I THANK YOU for encouraging girls to dress in a way that helps their Christian brothers keep a Godly focus during "fellowship" times.

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Thanks, Beth! That definitely puts a different perspective on it! :)

Tressa260 said...

My 11 year old and I used to go round and round every summer. She wanted a two piece so she could potty easier, and I wanted better coverage. This means a full across-the-top top and covers the belly, and not a V neck which can expose things she doesn't have yet but will one day. Finally this year we had a breakthrough! She and I agreed almost immediately! She's finally getting it. Praise Jesus!

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Tressa, Gotta love that! Those teen years look easier already! :)

Wendy Howe said...

I whole heartedly agree about needing to teach our girls to dress modestly. I made the mistake of not properly teaching my oldest daughter and as she began to develop we fought regularly over what was and was not acceptable. She, justifiably, couldn't understand why she could no longer expose as much skin as I had allowed her to become comfortable showing when she was younger. My revised policy with her younger sisters is that if I wouldn't want that level of skin showing at 14 or so, it doesn't show at 4 either. We have solved the swimsuit issue by wearing rash guards and board shorts. If I can't find reasonably priced board shorts that are long enough, they wear boys swim trunks. They often sell either solid colored ones or ones with Hawaiian style flowers on them. They are easy to go to the bathroom in and completely cover them. Once they begin to fully develop, we wear sports bras under the rash guards. As far as I'm concerned, if it isn't modest enough to go to Walmart in, it isn't modest enough to go to the pool in either. Why should my level of modesty change just because of where I am at?

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Wendy, I love this! And isn't it great that as parents, we can "revise" as we go? LOL

You've shared some valuable ideas with my readers! Thanks very much!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to add that I am LDS and think this is definitely a concern. We have a neighborhood pool where there are many young children and moms who hang out on a regular basis and it always bothers me when the MOMS are dressed inappropriately. I have 2 young boys with whom I discuss modesty with and will encourage (as they get older) to date girls who treat their bodies with respect. It is interesting to note that is generally the daughters of these women who are dressed immodestly versus the ones whose moms are. We need to remember that we are the best role models our children have and they will follow our lead. With that being said, I live in Utah where there are several companies and retail stores who specialize in cute, stylish and modest clothing. I am definitely a style junkie and trust me if I can be in style and modest than anyone can! Here are a couple of great stores who sell modest swimwear.... Lime Rickey and Down East and I am almost positive that Down East Clothing has little girl suits. Super Cute! Rachael

Anonymous said...

Update... It's actually www. Great Utah company with SUPER cute, well made suits for women!

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