little girls and bathing suits: why kids are sold short

I just read this article about how unfair it is that little girls have to learn that they have to wear bathing suit tops when boys don’t.

I’m left, as usual, with the feeling that way too many parents don’t give their kids enough credit for their ability to understand things like this.

This article, as well as most of the comments on it, suggest that you have to find some way to evade or sugarcoat the answer to this question–or, alternatively, that you use it as the occasion for a rant about the patriarchy. Neither of those things, in my opinion, makes much sense for a kid of six. The answers proposed here all seem to do one of a few things: invoke the “just because” answer, which is no answer at all, or try to get into the depths of why society is the way it is and what you should do to change it.

I don’t get why more parents don’t just explain to their kids that, in our country at least, women generally wear tops? Is it hard for a kid to understand that there are different rules for different people? I say, no. It’s not hard. Kids do it all the time. They accept the fact that driving is for grown-ups. They accept the fact that nursing is for a younger sibling. They understand that, even though another kid at church may be allowed to run riot in the cry room, they are expected to be quiet and let people listen to the service. What’s so hard about this?

The key misunderstanding here–and I see this with the way that people talk about college freshmen, too!–is that there’s some stereotype that a child is not able to understand a nuanced message. Absolutely, they can understand these things. But only if you tell them. “Women wear bathing suit tops because they’re cuter” is not an answer. Sorry. Try again. Better luck next time.

Kids aren’t stupid. They lack information, not understanding.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Suz on July 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Well said!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Aunt Vicki on July 8, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    When we lived in France…Erin at the age of six was in a shop looking to purchase a new bathing suit.
    Her comment to the sales clerk in French…”and I want both pieces”. I had not a clue why the lady was laughing as I didn’t understand what Erin had said. Her French friends only wore the bottoms and we did not care one why or the other…but apparently Erin did.

    Reply

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