A few days ago, dear 17-year-old Helen asked me if I would consider allowing her to wear a bikini this summer. An interesting and surprising request. One that follows a long history of discussion in this very household on that very subject.
“I would choose something modest,” my daughter said. (Is that an oxymoron? Modest bikini?)
Apparently my contemplative look was quickly misinterpreted.
She jumped in with, “You know…in six weeks, I’ll be emancipated. I’ll be 18.” I’m not sure if she thought that would give credence to her request.
Emancipated? What does she think she is? An indentured servant?
Then for the cherry on top she added: “You know, then I could run away.” She was joking, of course.
I reminded her that if she indeed was going to be emancipated, then it wouldn’t be called running away. It would be called leaving or moving out.
Then she asked the question that got the “yes” she desired.
“Mom. I guess I am asking for permission to make the choice for myself.”
Yes. Of course you can. Permission granted. After all…she’ll soon be emancipated. As quickly as I agreed, I told her I was sure she would make a good choice. Because she will.
When I shared this little story, I was reminded by more than one friend that I wore bikinis regularly. And I did. I also remember one day at 17 or 18, my big brother stopping me, telling me I couldn’t go to the beach in a bikini. And that I wasn’t leaving the house. I remember thinking he was joking, but then realized he wasn’t. Oddly, I don’t remember the outcome of that moment, but do very clearly remember the moment. In a split second, I became much more conscious of how I presented myself. I saw myself differently that day. Now, of course, as a mother–especially of daughters–I see it all very differently. I don’t want them wearing burlap sacks, and I certainly understand the desire to be fashionable. But I do want them to at the very least consider their modesty and what it means with regard to making choices on how they dress.
To top this off, I was going to put in a Bible or Catechism quote about modesty. Even though I found many truthful and meaningful quotes … they all were a bit too radical in their wording. So instead, I’ll translate: God wants us to respect our bodies and be modest. And he means it … because it’s in the Bible a bunch of times. Popes have written about it and so have a bucket load of saints. Amen and cover up.
This has been a battle between Megan and us for several years now. Not even so much a bikini, but a two piece. She does technically have a two piece now, but it looks like a one piece as the top tightly covers the bottoms. We had much trouble finding a one peice to fit her. (and Brian still objects.) But she has just recently slipped me the “I need a new bathing suit” and I know the battle will begin again. Again, we will try to stand firm amongst what seems like the only parents mean enough to refuse a normal two piece. I thank you for letting me see we’re not the only hold-outs. And I do know what you mean about when we were young – I too wore two piece at quite a young age. It was not the big deal as it is today. It was not “sexy” it was just a bathing suit. But too, I think the world is not the same as it was when we were younger. Sex is so strongly encouraged. And we always want better for our daughters! By the way, that picture of Helen is beautiful!! She looks stunning.
Perfect. I think you can count on the fact that Helen will make the right choice. So glad you are a few years ahead of me so I can look to your strategies for counsel. Keep us posted on the suit status.