Buns Out

My Daughter Wears A Cheeky Bathing Suit — So What?

She found what she felt comfortable and confident in. That’s all I need to hear.

When my daughter was 16, she came home after shopping with a friend holding a very tiny bikini bottom in front of my face. I told her it was cute and I couldn’t wait to see it on her. A few minutes later, she came strutting down the stairs with most of her bum showing. “I know it’s skimpy,” she said, “but I love it. And I never feel good in a bathing suit but I feel good in this one.”

That’s all I needed to hear.

After all, I was with my daughter during many shopping sessions when she’d cry in the dressing room because she hated the way her legs looked in jeans. She complained that nothing fit her right. I held her hand on the way home from the mall the year we spent hours trying to find a dress for her for a big formal dance, but we left empty handed. I had to hold in my own tears when she told me she hated her body and she looked bad in everything and couldn’t wait to be old enough to get a breast reduction. I was the one who had to talk her into getting in the car on the first day of school her sophomore year because she’d hated everything she’d tried on.

And I was the one who missed her when her brothers wanted to go to the beach and she opted to stay home because she hated the way her bathing suits looked on her. I’d make excuses for her, saying she didn’t feel well or she didn’t like to swim, when we’d go to our friend’s pool and she’d sit on the edge in shorts and an oversized T-shirt, desperately wanting to swim while her anxiety over her body crippled her.

I’ve watched my daughter closely. I was worried that she may develop an eating disorder or stop doing too many of the things that brought her joy. I was worried she'd slip into a depression and isolate herself too much. Honestly, the way she seemed to feel about her body scared the hell out of me.

She went to therapy. I told her every day how beautiful she was and that her body, her very healthy body, was perfect. I talked her into deleting apps from her phone and reminded her a lot of what she saw online was filtered and posed.

So that day when she came downstairs feeling great about herself, I told her the truth: That I loved her suit and she looked great in it.

She’s had a “cheeky” bathing suit ever since and oh boy do people like to make comments.

I’ve been asked if I’m okay with my daughter showing her butt cheeks. I’ve been told she’s too young to wear something like that. Just the other day I was lying next to my daughter under an umbrella at the beach, and the older man next to us apparently couldn't help himself. I could hear him and his wife talking about how “bathing suits that give women a wedgie really bother them.”

Which is too bad, because while they were letting my daughters' bathing suit ruin their time, we had a wonderful afternoon.

I don’t care if what my daughter wears bothers people, makes them uncomfortable, and causes them to talk and judge her. My daughter dresses for herself, no one else needs to chime in.

In the end, we are all better off spending our time worrying about other things.

Diana Park is a writer who finds solitude in a good book, the ocean, and eating fast food with her kids.