The Bikini Question

by Andrea Bates
Originally Published: 

“Can I get a bikini?”

I looked over at my seven-year-old, her eyes crinkled with a smile.

Before I could say anything she repeated her request.

“Can I get a bikini?”

My mind ran ahead of me.

A bikini. A real two-piece suit.

Not a standard tankini.

She had one last summer, but she’s grown a lot since then.

She’s changed.

As her mother, I worry about so many things. I worry that she’ll feel left out. I worry that she’ll feel afraid. I worry that she’ll feel made fun of.

I worry that she’ll grow up to be like me.

I’m not a small mama. I never have been. I worry that my daughter will face the issues with weight I’ve faced my entire life.

I worry she’ll never see a bikini past the age of 10 – if that – and I worry that someone will say she shouldn’t be wearing one now.

So I look at her and tell her we can bring a few different suits into the dressing room. I tell her we can try them on and see how they fit.

I gently steer her to a different bikini. One with more coverage.

She stalls. Stands her ground. Yes. I know. I know I’m the mom. I know I am the one who spends the money. I am the one who makes the final decision. But I like to give her a choice. A say of some sort.

She’s only seven. At seven there are so few choices that they’re allowed to make. Shouldn’t I permit her this one? This one that won’t hurt anyone? This one that would make her happy?

She needs a few suits for this summer. I bought her two online and they’re both all sorts of weird and wrong. She tries a few tankinis on and they look adorable on her. But I know what she wants. She wants that bikini. The one with the frills and the tiny pieces of fabric. She wants the colors that show against the black of the suit. She wants to look a little bit grown-up and thinks that a bikini will do that. She also wants to be comfortable. Can I blame her? Should I deter her?

From the comfort level of fewer constraints? Less fabric against her skin? Who am I to say no?

So – I shift into a new mindset – and I buy her the bikini.

And a few weeks later – as I watch her jump off the dock and into the water I notice something. A few things.

First, this suit fits her better than any other.

And second, my daughter, my baby girl? Has the CONFIDENCE to wear it. To pull it off. And not give a damn what anyone thinks.

And I have the confidence to let her.

Related post: Getting In

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