I read an article a while ago about how to talk to your teenage daughter about the pressures to get ‘bikini-ready’ for the summer so that, presumably, you can go to the beach or the pool without that sense of overwhelming shame which is assumed to be our natural default setting. And once there, of course, you can pose and hope you look good enough instead of – oh I don’t know – having a good time.
I just tried to find the article again but whatever combination of words I type into google, all I get is a message from my Talk Talk Homesafe setting denying me access because the content falls under the category of ‘porn’. So you’ll just have to imagine.
It was well-intentioned advice about the importance of sitting your teenage daughter down and explaining to her the fact that she is beautiful as she is and doesn’t need to feel pressured into dieting to make herself into an acceptable bikini-wearer.
I’m a little wary of all this convincing our daughters they are perfect, and I would only ever stray into this territory if my daughter had first come to me distraught about the fact that she didn’t feel she was ‘bikini-ready’. Or I might try to pick up the subtle signs as she goes about her life that under the careless gaiety she is secretly feeling a huge debilitating unease about the approach of the summer and the fact that she still has a ‘winter body’. Unless she brings the subject to my attention in some way I will certainly not be bringing it up with her.
I know that my daughter is ‘bikini-ready’ because when we went to Matalan last week to get her a swimming costume, she shuffled her feet and looked awkward for a bit until I said ‘or would you prefer a bikini?’ at which point she beamed and said ‘Yes please! This one!’ We left the shop with a really cool black bikini and a one-piece for the colder days.
She’s bikini-ready. What more is there to say on the subject? I am not going to put into her head any inkling that for women our society actually says that just buying a new bikini is not enough, you’ve got to get a new body too. She has NO IDEA and I’d like her to stay that way. I’ve managed to get to this age still in complete denial that the subject even exists, and in this area I am quite happy to pass on my ignorance to my daughter…