Jessica Simpson recently posted pictures on Instagram of her adorable daughter, Maxwell Drew, in a swimsuit. Why is this news, you may be thinking? Well, if you ask me, it shouldn’t be. But thanks to tons of online commenters, who left messages for Jessica like “she seems a bit young for such a sexy pose,” “hoochie in the making,” “this is not an appropriate picture for the world to see; you never know who’s looking, and that bikini is tiny especially for a child,” and the ever-popular “slut,” it has become just that, and to be honest, it makes me crazy.
As the mother to a daughter around the same age as Jessica’s, a daughter who also rocked a bikini the same day as Maxi, I find it completely ridiculous that a 5-year-old’s choice in swimwear should be up for debate . . . period. But social media provides everyone with an easy platform to place judgment, both good and bad, and the bad always seems to rule (just ask Christina El Moussa).
I asked my daughter, a recent kindergarten graduate, why she thinks people might not like to see a photo of a little girl in a bikini. “Hmmm . . . I don’t know,” she thoughtfully replied. “Maybe they don’t like to look at belly buttons?” Because that’s what a little girl thinks is the only difference between a one-piece swimsuit and a bikini, and I tend to agree. If you’re a person who finds revealing a 5-year-old’s belly button sexually provocative, who does that speak to more? The 5-year-old and her mother, or you? I tend to think the latter.
I also asked my daughter why she’s recently been wearing her bikinis more than her one-piece swimsuits. “When I have to go to the bathroom at the pool, it’s too hard to pull up a one-piece,” she said. “A bikini is way easier.” First of all, kudos for not peeing in the pool, kid, but again, I think we would all be smart to follow her little-girl logic. A swimsuit is Summer-appropriate attire for the pool and beach or to wear while playing in the backyard, like Maxi was. When we choose to label that attire as “too sexual,” what we’re really doing is sexualizing a young girl, and it’s just plain gross.
Yes, of course there are internet predators and pedophiles who are doing just that, and I get that some people’s comments are rooted in trying to warn a fully capable, successful grown woman about that fact. But guess what? She’s not dumb. She gets that there are crazies out there who might be viewing her child inappropriately, and she’s decided she’s not going to change how she lives and displays her life because of it.
Even if you don’t respect her choice, you should respect her right to make it. Just as you should respect her right to choose what her child wears, even when that child is a girl. Because, let’s face it, girls are the only ones we throw this kind of judgment at.
Ask yourself about the last time a celebrity was destroyed online for posting a picture of their son in a swimsuit. Never heard that story? Me neither.
So let’s call this what it is: a bunch of commenters’ sexist, misogynistic, completely ridiculous judgments of a child and her mother for having the audacity to choose a swimsuit that shows the little girl’s belly button and provides her with easier bathroom breaks. Who’s inappropriate now?