Friday, July 13, 2012 • 3:54 AM Comments (3)

What Do Feminist Preschoolers Wear? A Bathing Suit Installment

posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Many of the little girl’s clothes are hand-me-downs (score!). At the moment, for all that’s in her clothes, she far prefers “tuwuly” dresses. That’s to say, she likes dresses that twirl. Other than a steady stream of underwear, these days, since she wears a favorite dress until you wrest it from her in a nearly forcible act after four-to-five days on average, she is not a major contributor to the family laundry avalanche.

Anyway, the baby bikini she was bequeathed with one long-ago batch of suits, I conveniently moved the top out of sight. If she wore it, she wore the bottom as her suit. This year’s bathing suit collection features an intact (Speedo) bikini.

At the moment, the “bathing suit that goes here and here but not here,” is her favorite. She’d like another, too, she said, “and not with big pieces.”

Coincidentally, she made the request on the bikini’s sixty-sixth birthday.

Hello, dilemma. I can’t decide what I think. Are bikinis themselves clothing lacking in feminist credentials or shall I take a page from celebrate-the-“tuwul” dressing and let her wear what she darn well pleases? I lean toward the latter.


Note: at the very lovely picnic we attended last night, she was a bit surprised to find that picnic-at-the-park does not automatically mean the constituency is her preschool pals. Then, she slipped at the water park straight away. It was nothing some time, and a Dora the Explorer band-aid couldn’t cure.

Earlier in the week, I’d wondered to myself whether an appropriate baby gift would be this: a box of Dora band-aids (or the equivalent, Hello Kitty or Spongebob) and a twenty-dollar bill. The band-aids are self-explanatory; they fix things, and parents are fixers. The twenty I’d suggest hanging onto until the kid is a teenager. At that time, you’ll need so many of them to hand out when the baby you can’t imagine crawling routinely walks out the door for full days that somehow seem to include going out to lunch. Oh, and a cow, I often send a cow, if the new mom is nursing. The reason for this is self-explanatory.

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Blue's Clues bandaids, and for a while there were brightly colored solids that stuck in water - a miraculous object for those of use eschewing copyright characters while encouraging an active life including swimming, digging and a good deal of sand.

Aerin had a pink dress phase that is hard to recollect from this vantage point of black and snarky t-shirts and ones with cheerfully nerdy things on them. Change is inevitable.

Posted by Lee on 7.13.12 at 7:59

I have similar dilemmas- are dresses, dolls, bikinis, etc teaching her the wrong thing about being a girl, and then a woman? And then I just say to heck with it, let her wear and play with whatever she wants, and realize she is self assured (so far) that no one could tell her what she should and shouldn't be. by the way, here I am:

Posted by Stefania LaBarre on 7.13.12 at 12:53

I have a strong memory from when I was a little kid (kindergarden age-ish) visiting my grandparents in Switzerland for several weeks every summer- in the states everyone (read 'girls') wore full swimsuits with frills, and in Basel, everyone (both genders) just wore speedo/ bikini bottoms and no tops. I thought about this quite a bit at the time and could never decide if one was better than the other-- I just noticed that in Switzerland it just didn't seem to matter to anyone quite as much what one wore or that they didn't have tops on, and they all just had fun. I still haven't decided, other than the point seems to be that she's having fun and the clothes aren't the focus, and that seems to be what you impart to her by not making it a big deal.

love your posts.

Posted by SarahH on 7.16.12 at 23:07



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