“Mom, why do girls have to wear bathing suit tops or shirts, but boys don’t?”
Amy Gates, from Crunchy Domestic Goddess, fielded this question from her six-year-old daughter earlier this summer.
It’s an excellent question. And it’s a question that, thanks to a broad-minded mom, and a rural upbringing, I didn’t have to ask until I was at 9 or 10. I simply went topless, just like all my best friends, who happened to be boys.
But then came the day when I was reprimanded at our local pool for swimming in shorts without a top, the same exact outfit worn by my best friend, Richie.
I can remember being miffed about what exactly I had done wrong. I wasn’t flaunting my naked breasts. I didn’t have breasts. My chest looked exactly the same as my friend’s. Were they worried my breast buds might sprout, right then and there on the diving board?
And, even if they did sprout then and there, would that be so horribly obscene? Would everyone run from the pool, screaming, like a scene from The Blob? Would they have to evacuate the pool and clean it? Why should my iron-board flat chest be criminalized? For that matter, why should any chest be criminalized?
Now, I’ve got an 8-year-old daughter who, for the most part, likes her hand-me-down, one-piece bathing suits. But, surprise surprise, she also enjoys swimming in just her shorts, or even taking off her shirt when she’s playing with her friends and it’s hot. I love seeing her do this, but I notice that she is often the only one among her girl friends, to do it.
My philosophy is, do it while you can?
What’s yours? Are you a stickler for tops for young girls? And what about bra-style bikini tops? Do you like them, hate them, or are you indifferent?