The fun of summer often involves plenty of water play for families, whether at the beach or in the pool. Girls and boys usually have as much of a swimwear selection as their grownup counterparts, but when is a kids' swimsuit too racy or otherwise inappropriate? What should concerned parents do when stores carry swimwear that some may consider too much, but others are buying?
What May be Inappropriate
When it comes to inappropriate bathing suits for kids, parents know that girls' swimwear gets the brunt of it. Boys' swimsuits tend to fall into one of two camps: swim trunks or board shorts. Boys' briefs, or smaller suits, are also available, but not as popular stateside among anyone outside of racing circles.
While what's considered inappropriate varies from person to person, many parents would agree that they don't want to see their little ones wearing swimsuits with any of the following features:
- Thong bottom: These are definitely a sexy swimwear bottom, as are G-strings and other minimal coverage pieces, but they really are not appropriate for girls, preteens and teens. Fortunately, most kids' swimwear comes with full coverage bottoms, including boy short styles which are cute and age-appropriate.
- String bikini: Little girls often want to emulate their mothers in everything from shoes to swimwear. You'll find a wide variety of two-piece styles for girls, but with varying degrees of coverage. While a simple bikini style is innocent enough, what about designs that are held together with little more than string? String bikinis usually evoke feelings of sensuality, which parents don't want associated with their children.
- See-through material: Even many adults won't wear see-through swimsuits so even if you can find transparent material in children's swimwear, why buy it? This is definitely adults-only territory.
What do you do when your little girl wants to be older and isn't satisfied with anything less than a skimpy bikini? Parents may find this a good time to make compromises.
- Tankinis: This popular style can often make both parties happy. A girl gets her two-piece suit while her parents get more coverage than a traditional bikini offers.
- Boy shorts: Not just for boys, this modest bottom can be paired with any number of tops, including a triangle bikini top, tankini top, halter top or rash guard.
- Ruffled skirts: These adorable bottoms look cute on young girls and offer full coverage.
- Details: Sometimes, it's the little details that count for a lot. Beads, flowers, applique and other embellishments may add just the flair a young girl is after.
Buying Appropriate Swimwear for Kids
With so many retailers offering children's swimwear, no parent has to feel he has no say in what his son or daughter wears. In some cases, a discussion may be needed about what's inappropriate and why. Check out fashionable and fun bathing suits at local department stores and swim boutiques, as well as these online sites:
- SwimOutlet offers plenty of kid-friendly styles that will hold up to a child's activity level, whether it's building sand castles or playing endless games of Marco Polo. The selection of girls' board shorts range in length from short to long -- including board skirts -- but all should make parents feel comfortable.
- Speedo makes much more than those teeny tiny swim briefs that competitive swimmers favor. Girls will find stylish and chic one-piece suits, often with accompanying swim skirt or shorts, while boys can wear longer-length jammers just like the pro swimmers do. You'll also find boys' briefs, perfect for racers.
- REI knows how to outfit anyone for serious outdoor play. Swimsuits for girls come in a variety of styles, including two-pieces that are not too revealing, shorts and rash guards. Boys will find rash guards as well, plus board shorts that look great while surfing.
Above all, summer should be fun for everyone. Although many girls try to grow up more quickly than their parents would like, a reminder that they'll be adults soon enough, with the ability to wear whatever they like, may be needed. In the meantime, hope that your kids can enjoy being kids, with all the play and free time that childhood allows.