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…
How to get a bikini body : Get a body. Put a bikini on it.
Great advice for adults too – I’m going to use the CWK technique to prepare for my holiday in Turkey in October. Thanks!
…reminds me of my recent conversation with my 8 year old about racism. she goes to a multi ethnic urban primary school and has no idea what it is, I felt sad to need to explain it but happy she didn’t know it existed yet – that’s progress i think!
When we talk about gender inequality i usually preface with ‘in the old days’ so she frames it as an outdated thing we’ve evolved out of now. I hope life doesn’t prove different for her.
Never did talk to my daughters on the subject, limiting it to ‘ wear a scarf and don’t take it off as soon as you get outside!’. Suppose I remembered just how little notice I took of my Mum and Grandma, when I could get away with it. Seriously though, these days girls and boys can become so loaded down with all these ‘body image’ things when life for teenagers, which was always difficult down the ages, is cluttered enough.
There are so many things about which they undoubtably need gentle guidance and most of those can need a great deal of forethought and understanding of your child, so, unless absolutely confronted with a particular aspect, let them broach the subject first.
Luci - mother.wife.me
Wholeheartedly agree with you. I certainly didn’t ever have a chat like that with my mum before I donned a bikini as a teen. Making a big deal of it is only going to serve to have a child wondering why their parent brought the subject up – i.e. “well am I NOT going to look ok in a bikini?”!! Brilliant Post – found you via BritMums MBPW
My daughter has only just turned two, so I’m not sure I’m really qualified to comment here. Also she prefers to be completely naked at any given opportunity but that’s another story..
Your post is really thought-provoking. Particularly what you said about being wary of convincing our daughters that they’re perfect. Body image is something I give far too much thought to. Mine really isn’t great and I’m determined not to pass this on to my daughter. I agree with you in that the topic of getting ‘bikini ready’ should be instigated by the child, not us. I also hope to somehow, one day teach my daughter that there really is not such thing as perfection. It’s one big horrible myth that no-one ever really achieves. The sooner we really start to recognise this, the better for all, I think.
Glad to have found this post via the Britmums linky today.
Aaah, congratulations on having a two year old daughter! There is so much focus on girls at the moment, but I have learned that it’s all about me, not her. Cultivating a genuinely careless humorous attitude in relation to yourself is the greatest influence you have on your daughter. Enjoy the journey!