Do or Don’t: Babies in Bikinis

When I was a baby and toddler, I ran around the beach stark naked. I think it was more acceptable and common back then (long live the 90’s!) because nowadays I barely ever see a naked baby anywhere.

Well, earlier this week while I was on the beach, there was a little girl, no older than three, playing happily with a shovel nearby, and she was wearing a bikini. Not a two piece, but a string-tying, triangle topped, bikini-bikini. If you had blown it up to adult size, it would have been a standard bathing suit for a woman, maybe even a little on the skimpy side. There was something about it that totally rubbed me the wrong way, and made me feel really uncomfortable. I found myself scanning the beach for the parents, and wondering what their incentive was behind buying that bathing suit.

I clearly remember the summer I started wearing bikinis, after rocking one piece speedos for all those years. I remember wearing it to the beach for the first time, constantly checking the top to make sure everything was in the right place, and feeling both thrilled and embarrassed. It was the same year that I kissed a boy for the first time, the same year I had started walking around my neighborhood alone for little errands. It symbolized independence, womanhood.

So this little girl wearing one was unsettling for me — and to be honest, it looked kind of ridiculous and inappropriate, like if I were to head to the beach in an adult diaper. And it got me thinking, so I’m curious what you guys think. Babies in bikinis: do or don’t?

Photograph by Kelle Hampton

8 thoughts on “Do or Don’t: Babies in Bikinis

  1. A buck naked little girl is a DO, but a string bikini is a DON’T. Although, one of those little racing bottoms that swimmers and Europeans wear, on a little boy wouldn’t bother me either. Does that make me sexist?

  2. Could not agree more. I always find it totally disturbing to see any child under the age of 11 or so in a bikini. My feeling is that a naked baby or kid is beautiful and innocent and as soon as you put them in a bikini, you are sexualizing them. Love your comparison to it being like you heading to the beach wearing an adult diaper 🙂 Great post Joy.

  3. A big don’t, my daughter’s eleven & I’m dreading the first two piece – it’ll be a tankini for sure.

  4. So I was that kid at the beach who couldn’t run around naked because I’d be lobster-red within ten minutes. That being said, I’m all for naked babies, but I feel like the bikini on an infant/toddler/young girl is oversexualizing that kid at a REALLY young age. Do I think maybe girls should have the agency to make that decision without it automatically being a symbol of their sexuality? Absolutely. But given the world we live in, it just makes me uncomfortable too. (Also, I worry for that kid’s skin. But hopefully she’s more tolerant of sunscreen than I was as a kid).

  5. Yup, totally sexualizes a little kid. Really hard for me to keep my mouth shut when I see a mom dress her daughter in one.

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