I was at the swimming pool earlier this year to do some laps with my husband and youngest daughter and we noticed two large girls wearing very small bikini‘s waiting in the line in front of us. From the back they looked like young 20ysomething women who hadn’t realised that they had outgrown their clothes, or they had chosen that look that says “man I look hot with all this skin hanging out of my clothes”. But no! My husband, heard one of them say that she was 11! Neither of them looked 11, 12, 14 or even 16 and certainly not 11!. I know that many girls are bigger now than they were at the same age say forty years ago due to improved fitness and diet, but do they need to wear clothes that clearly are not right for them? How can I say this nicely? These girls had clothes on that did not fit them well, were not the right style for their body shape and didn’t highlight their best attributes. But worse than the ill fit of the bikini’s – it made them look much older than they really were. Like many young girls with developing bodies, both these girls were a little over weight and both were displaying more flesh than was meant for a bikini, and these were the sort of little bikini’s that you might expect to see on the well honed body of a woman fully aware of her sexual appeal.
These girls both had the bodies of an overripe adult wearing clothes that were too small for their body shape. This in itself is not a problem as everyone has a right to dress the way that they chose (in this country at least), but it is a problem when they are children and perhaps their choices aren’t so well-informed. The way I see it, the problem is that both girls wore bikini’s that made them look like an adult and that means that potentially there were people looking at them in the same way that they might if they were that well honed body aware of their sexuality. I know that I wouldn’t have wanted both my daughter’s to be looked at in a such as way when they were eleven, but then I would not have let my daughter’s dress is such an inappropriate way until they were old enough to understand the ramifications. I think that this is the real issue here. Do these girls and their parents understand the ramifications of dressing like over ripe adults in skimpy bikini’s? Whether the girls dressed like this knowingly or not it doesn’t matter as it does not justify inappropriate behaviour from adults looking on and certainly does not justify an adult knowingly acting on a sexual impulse with a child regardless of the way that they dress or behave. I am more interested in the ramifications for the child, how they feel about themselves and how this affects their growth into adulthood.
It was pretty easy to see from their behaviour and conversation that they were young and most likely still have the mind and emotional intelligence of a child, and rightly so. Apart from what others may think (or feel) when looking at the girls, does it really matter if girls of this age dress like fully grown women with all that comes with that choice? I think it matters.
We all benefit from positive attention, but just imagine if one of those girls heard an unflattering comment about the way they looked? Come on, we have all thought these things about people and sometimes make mention to our partners just out of earshot of the person. It’s just natural, but what if the comment is heard by one of the girls? It’s bad enough when you are an adult to overhear something unflattering about yourself, but as someone growing into adulthood it could be shattering. Just think what this could do to the girls self esteem – it would be better to help her look good in the right style and fit of clothes to flatter and give her confidence instead of showing acres of bulging skin. This is not a good look and potentially attracting the wrong sort of attention.
The real problem is that she looks so much older. Her body has developed to look like a woman, so she wears clothes that are made for a woman not a girl. There is a place for looking sexy, cheap or just plain gorgeous, but lets not put too much expectation on the shoulders of one so young. Why not encourage our young girls to dress a bit more for fun and in the case of these girls to just have a great time at the pool in swimmers that were comfortable, looked good and were age appropriate?
Unfortunately there is little guidance provided to people now, young and old alike. No one wants to speak up and there is many a parent who has no idea what to do about just these sorts of issues, so they do nothing and, instead worry a lot. When I was growing up, any adult would give you a talking to if they thought you were doing the wrong thing – but now most people stand aside and just ignore things. Plug in their iPhone and just turnoff.
We have moved away from clothing styled specifically for girls from 10-14 years because many of them are now so large they are forced to wear women’s sized clothes. I don’t mean that they are fat – girls are just bigger than they used to be – they are taller and more developed earlier than they were forty years ago. Instead of adjusting their ranges for children and teens, fashion houses seem to have forgotten this age group and skip from the little girl frills for the 0-6 years straight to sizing for women. This leaves a huge gap and many a mother worries about finding appropriate clothing for her girls only to be forced into something less than appropriate due to a lack of choice. You could argue that much of this move to adult sizing and styles is because it is what young girls have demanded. OK, but who is in charge?
I think it is time that we started to return to common sense, respect for others, true care for those you love (which is sometimes hard), appreciation of community support and the teaching of leaders or elders. Am I alone?