Monday, August 8, 2011
Why is Camp Giving my Daughter Body Issues?
My daughter was trying to communicate something she still doesn't have the vocabulary to explain. "Skimpy?" I suggested. She shook her head. "Low-cut?" I asked. Bingo, those were the words used at camp.
"They told me to wear a t-shirt over it," she added. "And the t-shirts got mixed in with my other dirty clothes so that's why everything's wet. Maybe I shouldn't wear two-pieces any more."
I quickly reassured my flat-chested, fifty-two pound child that her swimsuit was, in no way, inappropriate and went to re-read the camp's packing guidelines. The packing list said 'pack a swimsuit', end of story.
The more I thought about this incident, the more annoyed I became. Now, I think it's important to go on record and say I understand the camp may be trying to encourage less revealing swimwear in order to make all girls, pre-pubescent and post, feel more comfortable.
Except that's not what happened.
What happened is my daughter was given the message that it's unacceptable to show her body. Take that to the next step, which most girls are fully capable of doing, and you have the message that 'my body is unacceptable.'
This is particularly frustrating when I've spent years attempting to instill self-confidence in my daughter. The saddest part of this is I undestand many of the messages my daughter receives from society actively chip away at her self-confidence. I don't want my daughter to spend her adolescence feeling inferior, fat, skinny, ugly or just plain unacceptable. At the very least, you'd think camp would partner with me in this important message.
And, one final note, a little FYI to camp if you will, wet t-shirts are more synonomous with Girls Gone Wild than they are with modest beach attire. C'mon camp! I'm convinced your heart was in the right place. All you need to do is communicate clearly via your packing list and you could save everyone a lot of angst.