It's not yet June, but already summer has started in Chicago-land which means that it's time for sprinklers and splash pads and if we're lucky, a few trips to the local water park. Of course all these activities require adequate swimwear.
My six-year-old son is no problem. He's been wearing the same pair of Lightening McQueen swim trunks for the last three years. Somehow they still manage to fit, although they no longer reach to his knees like they did the first year. Throw on a t-shirt for some extra sun and scratch protection and he's set. Same goes for my husband. Trunks and a t-shirt and he's ready to go.
I was fortunate enough to find a great, modest swimsuit for myself last fall. It's both modest and fashionable, or at least what I consider fashionable, and it's quite comfortable to wear. I happened upon it while looking at department store sales online and got it for a steal. (In case you're interested, it's a Miracle Suit.) It's a relief for me to know that this year I won't have to worry about my swimwear "situation" as I now feel confident knowing that I'll be both adequately covered and comfortable enough to have fun in the water.
Then there's my daughter. She's only three and already we have encountered difficulties when it comes to clothing her for swimming. I know many people would scoff at my dilemma but I don't take lightly the challenge of teaching her from an early age that her body is special and for that reason we take special care to keep it safe and protected at all times. Unfortunately, bathing suit manufacturers don't seem to share my concern and consequently most of what I found when I went shopping for her were not what I considered appropriate for a three-year-old.
I know to many a bikini on a little girl might seem cute. There's nothing really to show-off on a three-year-old, and I don't think maufacturers and parents are actively trying to sexualize their little girls. However, my husband and I both find the idea of toddler bikinis weird. If I'm not going to let my teen daughter wear a sexy bikini when she eventually does have something to show off, then why would I prep her for it by allowing her to wear one now? It's not exactly fair to change the rules midstream. And bikinis just don't seem comfortable or practical for swimming and playing, espcially for little girls.
Of course I found it interesting that there were tons of these suits hanging on the racks in both the infant-toddler section and the girls section of the store, while the one suit I would have considered buying was nearly sold out. It was a board short + rash guard shirt combo and was just what I had in mind. Apparently I wasn't the only one since there was only one left, in the wrong size, of course.
There were quite a few two-pieces that included the rash-guard shirt and bikini bottoms, or bikini top with board short bottoms. I considered buying one of each, but the colors and sizes didn't jive very well. But the one combining the shorts and shirt? They were gone, stripped from shelves before summer has even officially begun!
Aren't stores and manufacturers always taking account of the buying habits of their customers? Don't they notice when the most modest and protective style of swimsuit sells out immediately? It seems like good business to get more. I've noticed this same pattern in the past....the most modest suits are the most difficult to find, and when you do find them they've inevitably sold out.
As it turns out, I managed to dig out an older suit that was given to us a hand-me-down from a friend, one I had forgotten about. It's a one-piece that fully covers both chest and bottom and while wasn't my first choice, it will do. With a t-shirt over it for added protection, it should work pretty well.
Modesty takes work. It's not convenient and often not cheap. But dignity and self-preservation go a long way when it comes to cultivating confidence in our daughters, something much of society forgets or ignores, especially when it comes to the simple act of dressing. For that reason I refuse to compromise. It's just not worth it in the long run.