"Mom, I'm the only one wearing a one-piece," my oldest daughter told me yesterday after attending a friend's swim party. "Everyone else is wearing bikinis!" "Did anyone say anything?" I asked.
"I doubt anyone thought you looked weird or out of place," I offered.
"I know," she said. "But I felt weird. I felt different."
And there it is. Part of me wants to repeat what I was told growing up: Christians ARE different. It's never easy to be different from your peers, but looking back--I'm glad I learned that lesson while I was young. It has given me a certain strength of resolve I wouldn't have if my parents had been more permissive.
Being different--insofar as it is the kind of different that bespeaks moral virtue--is good!
On the other hand, I don't want to be so strict that in a few years my daughter will land on Facebook, flaunting her tatted up bikini body. OK, I know that sounds extreme but I just saw it the other day: a very wholesome Christian girl I used to babysit had all these pictures up on FB--posing in her bikini with a huge tattoo across her side.
I can't say I was super surprised--that girl's parents were among the strictest, harshest and most extreme I ever knew--but I still felt disappointed. It made me think about my own daughters and I felt this sudden wave of worry: if my daughters ever do that, I'll be distraught.
And then I think about how hypocritical that is of me--especially since I make very few prohibitions about what my daughters can wear. Still, I feel like I need to draw the line somewhere. I'm drawing it at: Eleven Years Old Is Too Young For A Bikini.
And if she asks when she'll be old enough, I'm going with: 96 years old.
But my daughter still wants to know why. WHY won't I let her wear a bikini?
Because YOU'RE STILL A LITTLE GIRL!! AND I WON'T HAVE ANYBODY OGLING MY BABY!
OK. So I didn't really say that, my brain just exploded inside with those words. What I really said was: "Let me talk to Daddy and I'll get back to you on that."
So, I went to talk with my husband about it. I told him about the girl we used to know who is all over FB in her bikini and tattoo.
And he said, "It's not about control. It's about relationship."
That was it.
See? It takes me like 500 words to say exactly what he says in 7 words.
Which I means: it's not really about the bikini. It's about my relationship with my daughter.
So, in the context of relationship, I want to have a conversation with my daughter about purity, chastity and why I'm not comfortable with her wearing a bikini. Yet. I just hope I can do this without freaking out.
Got any tips for me?
What are you thoughts on bikinis? Do you allow tankinis? What sorts of conversations do you have about swimsuits? Do you outlaw bikinis altogether? Or do you make modified rules?