What Your Daughter’s Bathing Suit May Say About YOU
This summer I started to wonder, does the swimsuit worn by your tween or teen daughter reflect a parenting style? The older your kids get, the faster you realize what you have in common with other moms and parents. Especially when it comes to fashion choices, cell-phone access, permission to attend parties, go to a mall or public place alone or other social events. You feel more at ease having your kids spend time with other kids from like-minded parents. But the like-minded parents you’re seeking may not always coincide with your children’s choices in friends.
My fashion choices skew toward classic lines while I love lots of colors and fun designs. I come from a mother who is ultra conservative in her attire. I have plenty of heels and know that I wore my not-so-mini bikini or cute one-piece swimsuit in my teens.
I feel that girls are fully developing much younger than ever and while they may have a figure that’s amazing, it doesn’t’ mean that they have the maturity to manage the attention that their more flirty clothes and smaller swimsuits may bring them. So are we contributing to the sexualization of young girls?
What do you do as a mother or parent? Do you allow your daughter to wear the more revealing swimsuit so she fits in with the other girls? Or, do you stand your ground and focus on the fashion you’re comfortable with?
These are sensitive questions because girls have so many issues surrounding body image, peer pressure and self-confidence that all can be impacted by what seems a simple choice in swimwear.
I asked our Los Tweens & Teens Expert and Professional counselor Lina Acosta Sandaal, MA of The Nest Miami to weigh in with some tips for parents facing these issues with their growing daughters.
According to Lina, many recent studies speak on body image, peer influence and parental influence on a tween’s/teen’s esteem, body image, and confidence. One study found that 40% of the tween girls (7-12 years old) interviewed wished they were thinner. This outcome shocked the researchers, who had only previously seen this from teen girls.
However, multiple studies state that, “emotionally warm, affectionate and available parents-matched with high expectations but fair discipline styles” equate to better self-image, body satisfaction, and positive peer relationships.(Holsen, et al. 2012)
Swimsuit & Clothing Conversation Tips for Parents of Tweens & Teens
- Be clear on your clothing standards, i.e. what type of swimsuit, how high the heel, etc., and communicate with your daughter the values and thoughts behind your decision.
- Allow shopping for the swimsuit to be an opportunity to communicate with your daughter the standards of beauty in her world, in your world, and how your family values beauty.
- Discuss the concerns she has about being embarrassed by her peers if she doesn’t wear that “name brand” or ‘tight’ bikini. Help her understand how you see it, but also consider how it affects her day-to-day.
- Finally, be conscious of how you speak about your body and your swimsuit choices.
Your daughters are listening and taking a cue from you about how to think about weight, beauty, and being accepted.
I really appreciate Lina’s advice because I have to constantly measure what I say about my fashion or my issues and communicate clearly with my daughters. Just saying ‘wow I hate that look’ doesn’t explain why I feel it’s inappropriate or not. Better word choices would be less critical and more informative. For example “I prefer a longer dress as it helps lengthen my look.’
My husband and I believe that parents must set their standards from the time children are younger- that includes boys too! When kids reach the critical tween years, girls and boys already should know what is tolerable and what is not in your home. Communication really is the key. Like all the other boundaries you will have to set throughout their lives, fashion should be set early.
Food for thought: have you ever talked about what shorts are too short in your home? How about when your daughter can wear those first heels? Maybe you should. Better sooner than later when arguing seems to replace conversation.
Tell us how you feel about the subject of too-revealing bathing suits.
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As a mother of twin tweens in 2011 and an active Girl Scout Troop leader, Cristy realized there was a need to develop bilingual digital content and foster a community facing the challenges of raising kids after first grade. That year she founded and remains co-Publisher of Los Tweens & Teens, to support multicultural parents and mentors with content related to raising Gen Z- tweens & teens ages 7-18. Through the Los Tweens & Teens LIVE events such as Teens & Me – the growing team aims to provide our community with essential resources from chats with therapists to battle anxiety and bullying, to understanding social media and technology.