1) I sat on the beach at the weekend, with my family, relaxing. The children played (ate sand, knocked over sandcastles and threw bombs stones in the sea) whilst I people-watched (discreetly as I was wearing sunglasses).
I happened to be taken by a lovely, boden-clad family. There were two Mums and 2 boys and a girl. I couldn't tell which child belonged to which, but that didn't matter. What was more interesting was that at first I couldn't tell what gender the children were. They were aged between 8 and 11 and all wearing beach shorts nothing on the top. It wasn't until the middle child took of a baseball cap and a mop of long hair was let loose that I realised she was in fact a girl.
How refreshing to see a young girl innocent, free and comfortable on the beach.
She reminded me of me. My younger self. This one...
|Sporting the towelling stripey trunks. Think they may have even had a 'Y' on the front too.|
|Me, my grey knickers, my crisps and my ball!|
|Going topless in a dinghy|
I never owned a "two piece" as a child. In fact I was under the belief that girls either got a swimming costume or trunks. I thought you could only get bikinis if ... you know <whispers> had boobs! This is because my Mum only ever bought us the bottoms, and in the earlier days when she couldn't find any for girls, as they didn't sell bikinis for babies then, she would put us in trunks.
She said we were happier in them. Which we probably were. The one summer she did by us a swimming costume for our hols we spent the whole summer unstrapping them and rolling them down to our middle. Trendsetters that we were.
But she's right swimming costumes are uncomfortable and down right painful when sand is involved too.
When were about 8 and 9 we got given a binbag of "hand me downs" from a second cousin. Amongst the usual dross we came across 2 bikinis - one green and pink! I begged my mum to let me wear one for my swimming-themed birthday party. Surprisingly she agreed; I emotionally blackmailed her saying it was the only thing I wanted for my birthday. However, the joy was short lived, because as soon as the wave machine came on the damn thing untied itself and floated away! Turned out my. mum had taken us to one of those feminist water-parks.
2) Jessica Simpson shared this picture of her daughter on live TV...
|Maxwell looking comfortable and at ease in her two piece|
Babies in bikinis! What is that all about? I thought we had hit ridiculous-celebrity-parenting- mecca with Suri Cruise and the high heels. But no, it seems to have got worse. And just like Suri and those sodding heels, I feel a parenting "trend" starting and it makes me feel a little sick.
Now, I don't have daughters, so you can shoot me down in flames because I don't know how hard a 4 year old girl will scream if you don't let them wear a pair of heels to a birthday party or school disco! But I'm pretty sure if my hypothetical daughter did my response would be: "Fine! You don't go."
There were things I begged my Mum for that I never got. A bikini, obviously, the Clarks shoes with a slight heel and a secret key hidden it (you know the ones) and a perm (thank god). And yes we probably kicked up a stink. My god some of my tantrums became urban legends amongst the townsfolk round here. But she still said no. Because all girls want to dress sup and pretend to be "grown-ups" but there is a place for that and it is in the same room as the dressing up box. Because as parents we have the responsibility to make sure are children are safe, comfortable and, primarily, children.
The desire to over-sexualise young girls, and now babies, with adult clothing is something I cannot get my head round. Please for the love of god encourage them to be kids. They have so many years ahead of them to battle with badly fitting bikinis and to struggle with walking in heels, for now just let them play at being grown ups. but the rest of the time, what's wrong with them looking and acting like children?
Plus, every girl I have seen totter into a birthday party in a pair of "Suri" heels has kicked them off within 2 minutes so they can run around with the other kids. So they can do the things children really like doing: being free and unconstrained - from adult concepts as well as inappropriate adult clothing.
The bikini as an item of clothing is burdened with sexual connotations. The media uses the word "bikini" as a weapon: each summer it is a measure of which celebrity bodies are "bikini-proof". Our younger generation is being suffocated by a pressure to become part of an adult world too soon. A world that is saturated with body-image, sex and the pressure to "fit-in". How early are we introducing our children to this world? And how long are we going to let celebrities and the media dictate how we bring up our children?
For me, the one gift we can give are children for free is innocence and the longer they can enjoy it, the happier they will be as adults.
But if you disagree with me, you are in good company. This week the fabulous parenting role model Liz Hurley has bought out her own designer children's swimwear collection... IN LEOPARD PRINT!
|Because Liz Hurley has just the wholesome image a children's clothing line needs.|
Just look at all the fuss the Duchess of Cambridge has caused by removing her bikini top... How does your 5 year old feel about that? Couldn't care less? Wouldn't understand? Wouldn't want to or need to? Mine neither.