Summertime is almost here and that means, bathing suit shopping. I will rock a bikini, but I must admit that finding one that suits my top-heavy body with my boyish hips can be a pain. It doesn't matter if you're thin, thick, or in-between:
Many women struggle with bathing suit shopping.
After a few weeks of baring my pale skin, though, I get used to it and enjoy being in the Summer sun and air, but I must admit . . . I doubt if I look OK in my suit. I criticize myself, and I find flaw after flaw, but I say "To heck with it," and I embrace the things I do like and hope that I am not embarrassing myself. Being confident as a woman is important. You've got to love the skin you're in.
It was so much easier bathing-suit shopping as a child. My mom would take me to the store, and I would pick out whatever fit my little girl fancy:
- Stars? Yes! My favorite suit for a year was a purple one with big bold white stars
- Characters? Smurfette? Yes, please! Bring me that one-piece with the big blonde blue Smurf character, and pronto, Mom!
- Hot pink flowers? So summery. Yay!
It was easy. I didn't worry if my boobs were hanging out of my top because I had no boobs. I didn't worry if the bottom was too low, because I had no pubic hair to speak of and I was a kid. I felt good in whatever bathing suit I chose because, darnit, I picked the cutest suit in the whole place and wore it with pride, over and over . . . and over again, until it was falling apart.
Life was easy. Life was good.
That's exactly the way it should be for kids and, truthfully, for adults. You should pick out whatever hot-pink, black tankini, polka-dot bikini, or any style you're loving. Just like kids do.
But there's one kids' publication that doesn't believe girls should have it so easy! Discovery Girls Magazine printed a story "Which Suit Best Suits You" and had sections in the spread such as, "If you're curvy up top" or "If you're round in the middle!" A mutual friend posted the spread on Facebook, and I was flabbergasted. I was even more disgusted when I went to the Discovery Girls magazine's Facebook page to see that the publication says it's "a magazine created by girls, for girls ages 8 and up."
Ages 8 and up. Age 8!
What 8-year-old should be worried about buying a bathing suit for her body type?
What little girl should be worried about her "round middle" this Summer as she wears a suit to camp, the beach, or the pool?
What little girl should be careful of the bathing suit prints she chooses, so that it will flatter her body type?
Catherine Lee, Publisher of Discovery Girls, wrote an apology letter on the magazine's Facebook page, saying she was glad people had complained about the horrific, disparaging, inappropriate and body-shaming editorial.
But what does that apology do for the 8-year-old who already read that piece and thought, "Oh . . . I guess my body is too round for my bathing suit?"
What does that apology do for the 10-year-old who thought, "I guess I am too narrow to wear that cool bathing suit I saw the other day."
What does a weak apology do for poor content planning that subsequently, just killed the self-esteem of girls everywhere?
I am tired of it.
I am tired of magazines who claim to "boost girls' self-esteem" all the while offering them fashion tips to make them look "slimmer" or "prettier."
I am tired of going to the bookstore to find books for my daughter, only to see book after book of "Beautiful Brides" and "Looking Pretty Themes" that teach my daughter nothing about being a successful happy person in this world.
Where are all the books for little boys called, "How to Be an Amazingly Sexy Husband" or "How to Be an Attractive Dad?" Where are all the magazines advertising ways to make little boys look better in their bathing suits?
They don't exist and they never will! So why is it this way for girls?
I am tired of brands, stores, and other businesses that market to little girls like they're 40 years old.
I am so sorry, Catherine Lee, publisher of Discovery Girls, that you didn't do a good "reading" of your issue before publishing this.
Please, don't give me the excuse that the "current cultural" climate allows for this nonsense. Since when was it OK to continue to do the same stupid garbage when we know it's not right?
It's not right for girls to be exposed to this — in any way, shape, or form and as parents, as writers (as I am), and as marketers (I am one, as well!), we have a responsibility to our girls. As mothers, we have a responsibility to our girls.
When I was a child, I never once worried about what I ate or what I wore looking "inappropriate" for my body type. Years later while in my mid-20s, I spent about two years cycling between calorie deprivation, purging, over-exercising, and food restriction.
My life was utter hell. I avoided parties with food and going out near food, and I picked apart my body like it was a rag doll.
It was a response to an abusive past but still it was no way to live.
I never, ever want any girl to go through that. To worry that she's not "perfect" enough. To worry that she's "too round for that suit." To worry that she "shouldn't eat that cookie today."
So each time another magazine, show, brand, or entity puts out junk like "How to Choose Bathing Suits For Their Body Type" to 8-year-old girls, we are putting another girl at risk for eating disorders, body shame, low self-esteem, and pain.
We are telling girls: you are only worth of your body, period.
We cannot afford to do this any longer.
Enough is enough.