When did I become such a prude? This was the question when Diva and I opened the box of summer clothes sent by a relative -- and I saw the teenie weenie bikini. A napkin's worth of hot pink and orange fabric, its arrival sent my 6-year-old into paroxysms of delight. She squealed; I reeled.
It was just a bathing suit and not even her first two-piece, but this was the real deal -- not a tankini, not a shorts-and-top set, but a bikini with a low rise and a string tie bandeau. She immediately declared that this was a "big kid" suit, unwittingly putting her finger on the very reason her dads were not over the moon about this outfit.
As she wriggled into it, her long and lean build presented a challenge: The suit might scream "big kid" but it sure didn't say "tall girl." The top was a few inches wide at best, which meant it just barely covered her nipples. The bottom had such a narrow rise that you could see the top of her hip sockets.
According to the label, this tiny ensemble was actually a size too big for her. I had to wonder: What exactly did the smaller versions look like? Color-coordinated Band-Aids and dental floss?
The timing couldn't have been more perfect for Diva: This was was the first day hot enough to use our new blow-up pool. Not surprisingly, she wanted to wear her new bikini, and I told her she could, but I only said yes because we were staying at home.
As she splashed around in the water, the picture of exuberant near nakedness, I couldn't help but be glad that we weren't at a beach with crowds of strangers seeing, well, so much Diva.
My visceral response to the bikini prompted a little soul-searching. If I was visiting a country in Scandinavia or Europe where women swim topless, or pausing by a pond in Germany where skinny-dipping was all the rage, I wouldn't find anything particularly scandalous about nudity. And there is nothing inherently provocative about Diva's body, which is that of a child, just a long rubber band in motion. So it wasn't the flesh that bothered me -- it was the bikini itself. And what sense did that make?
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