Straight Talk Advice

Thong, g-string, cheeky bikini not cool at family pool

Jul 07, 2015

How itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny should teen bikini be?

Dear Straight Talk: How teeny should a bikini be? We have a pool and "mature" girls come over, some wearing the tiniest swimsuits imaginable. As I look out the window, I’m not feeling like a very good or protective parent. Is there a standard around how much of the crotch or rear should be covered? I don't consider myself a prude, but it makes me uncomfortable. It would help knowing what teens themselves think is reasonable. Thanks!  —Mom in Woodland, Calfiornia

Icis 17, Lehigh Acres, Florida Ask me a question

This question is tough. I'm yet to find a bathing suit that covers a generous amount of my body. I don't wish to be exposed but I surely cannot help it. While females mature faster than ever, clothing is shrinking. With nude beaches, no swim attire is deemed too small. Swimwear depends on the body. Triangle tops work for smaller chests, otherwise they don't. Before purchasing swimwear, one needs to analyze the setting, the company, and one's own body.

Samantha 23, Toledo, Ohio Ask me a question

I'm into dignity and self-respect so my swimsuits cover all my private areas. But I remember being a teenager. On the forefront of teen girls' minds is, “How can I get male attention?” And the media shouts: “Wear the skimpiest thing possible!” Parents allow their daughters to look way too sexy these days. Twelve-year-olds don't dress like they used to! Teach your kids that showing too much skin, even if popular, won't get them worthy attention. When they're adults, their clothing choices are theirs, but for now, they're yours.

Karlee 18, Bentleyville, Pennsylvania Ask me a question

My mom's super-conservative approach must've influenced me because seeing young girls half dressed in their dance outfits makes me physically sick. I get thong underwear, but thong bikinis? That's stretching it. Honestly, I thought they were only for models to show their butts. Regarding tops, it can truly be difficult for “mature” girls to find the right top. While the feminist #FreeTheNipple movement is awesome and gaining momentum, many girls show skin for the wrong reasons and don't respect their bodies.

Elle 19, Boca Raton, Florida Ask me a question

It's nice to hear your concern. Kids need it. I'm in Florida now and just bought my first-ever bikini, a fairly modest one. Parents definitely need to draw lines. Thongs, no. Modest bikinis, okay. Tankinis and one-pieces, even better. Girls: Don't feel pressured to show extra skin. There are judgments made when you do. Guys: Ditto, so pull 'em up!

Justin 18, Brentwood, California Ask me a question

Girls show as much skin as possible to impress and flirt. One-pieces are considered dorky or unflattering. If the girls are juniors or older, I'd probably let them be. (Yes, we guys don't mind bikinis!  Fortunately, for us, popular male swimwear is not revealing.) If they're sophomores or younger, I'd seek your kids' honest feedback and/or possibly stop allowing swim parties.

Brie 23, London, England Ask me a question

Swimwear is age and place dependent. Here on the European beaches, anything goes. But at the American family pool, skip the Brazilians and cover most of the tush. My gauge: If I'd be embarrassed if my parents or grandparents observed what I was wearing in a particular setting, it's probably inappropriate.

Dear Mom: Sounds like the family pool hangout isn't the right setting for cheeky swimwear — this summer anyway. Regardless of fashion mores (or, ah, lesses), it's your pool, your rules. Make a dress-code sign: “Reasonable attire required, no ifs, ands, or butts.” Signage will make it easier to ask the offending parties to please return with a different swimsuit. Ironically, your dress code could mean more freedom as the formerly under-clad and self-conscious can now play and get some exercise instead of being held hostage by their hyper-sexualized swimwear. For others, it might unfreeze some brain cells.

Editor's Note: You probably think it’s the boys who get brain freeze when they see a sexily-dressed female, but actually, girls’ brains freeze up, too — in fact, girls may be the biggest victims in the brain freeze department.

In experiments, girls alone in a room with no windows and no observers, if wearing a swimsuit were so mentally preoccupied with their own self-objectification, they performed almost twice as poorly on a math quiz as girls given the same quiz under the same conditions only wearing bulky sweaters.

Just sitting alone wearing a swimsuit distracted these girls from thinking about math and their brains went into autopilot analyzing and rating their own bodies. This experiment, first done in 1998, was repeated in 2006 with the same results. I read about this in Dr. Leonard Sax’s “Girls on the Edge,” which I can’t recommend enough for both girls and parents to read.

The repercussions are enormous. This means that even “regular” school clothes (i.e., super short shorts, skin-tight pants, skin-tight tops, exposed cleavage, exposed midriffs and muffin tops, etc.) disadvantage a girl from being able to think. What is often considered a victory of feminism to be able to dress like this, is actually degrading a girl’s ability to succeed. I doubt the FreetheNipple movement will do anything but magnify this problem and I wish that movement and misguided feminism in general knew about studies like these. I also wish our public schools had dress codes, with several styles to choose from so girls could pick the style elements that look good on their particular body, thus feeling good about their looks, without revealing so much of their bodies that their brains go into self-objectification mode all day long.

Boys, as Justin aptly points out, have no such disadvantage. Society in general, and even teen society, does not expect boys to wear revealing clothing at school or even at the beach.

For parents, let this knowledge be fuel to make your daughter dress conservatively both at school and around the pool. There are plenty of cute bikinis that cover everything. Like Samantha says: “When they're adults, their clothing choices are theirs, but for now, they're yours.” When your daughter screams at you for not letting her wear “what everyone else is wearing,” stand firm. Paraphrasing Dr. Sax: “She can’t be expected to explain to her friends, ‘I chose to wear this outfit so I can focus on my schoolwork rather than worrying about my appearance.’ But she can say, ‘My evil witch of a mother made me wear this ridiculous outfit,’ thus saving face. You have to be willing to be the evil witch or evil wizard, if you’re a dad.”

Getting this book for both yourself and your daughters should make things easier. It’s got this and so many more insights. —Lauren

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  1. By Sally, age 42, from Carmichael, CA on 07/07/2015

    I actually wish my daughters would at least wear thong bikinis when they go swimming.  They have a friend with a pool, and when it’s all girls they swim in their “birthday suits” if you know what I mean. When they told me this, I told them that I would prefer that they wear some kind of bathing suit.  They protested and said they didn’t want to be different than everyone else and that the other girls would tease them and call them “prudes.”  They also reminded me that I always taught them that they shouldn’t be shy about their bodies and nudity with each other or other girls since girls are all the same.  I did tell them this, so I felt stuck by my own words.  I also felt that they would probably do it anyway, and there was no way I could enforce it.  I’ve been there and the pool is secluded, so the neighbors are not going to see anything.  Their friend’s mother does not have a problem with them swimming this way as long as it’s all girls and even lets her 11 year old daughter join the older girls who apparently finds it great fun to swim in the nude with the “big girls.”

    I’m a single parent, so we have an all-female household and my daughters are casual about nudity around the house and I’ve never seen a problem with that. 

    Despite all this, I’m just not comfortable with the situation and would really prefer them to wear some kind of swimwear, even the revealing type that Mom in Woodland in writing about.  However, I’ve decided that it’s not an issue worth having a major battle over. 


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    1. By Lori, age 16, from Lodi, CA on 07/09/2015

      What exactly are you worried about?  You say that you taught your daughters not to be shy about nudity with each other and other girls since girls are all the same, and that was good advice.  It sounds like they took your advice, and now your uncomfortable that they did.  What harm can there be with girls swimming in the nude together?  Most teenage girls see other girls nude in many situations, so they aren’t going to see anything they’re not already seeing, and since all girls have the same female body parts anyway, what harm is done?  My sister and I and our friends skinny dip in our pool and we like the feeling of freedom and the bonding and trust that comes with “taking it all off.”  You don’t say that you are worried about the “gay” issue that has been written about in Straight Talk, but I don’t know what your concern is if it is not that.  If a girl is straight, skinny dipping or otherwise seeing other girls nude is not going to turn her gay, and if a girl is gay, she’s already gay anyway.  My sister has a gay friend who has spent the night in our room and gone skinny dipping with us and it’s no problem for us and no different than with each other or our straight friends.

      I think that girls wearing bathing suits in front of guys that reveal too much as Mom In Woodland is writing about is much more a matter of concern than girls swimming nude with other girls, and I agree that some of the bathing suits these days show too much.  I also totally agree that girls who do wear these bathing suits definitely need to wax.


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      1. By T.R., age 16, from Roseville, California, United States on 07/10/2015

        I agree that there is nothing with skinny dipping if it is all girls (or all guys).  However, you have to make sure that nobody else can see.  We have a swimming pool and my sisters and their girl friends sometimes like to skinny dip.  The pool is situated so that the neighbors can’t see, but you can see it from my bedroom window.  I don’t want to see my sisters this way, so I wasn’t looking when it was just them, but they have a friend who I find very attractive and sometimes I can’t resist the temptation of peeking through the curtains at them when she’s there.  I know it’s wrong and I feel guilty afterwards, but it’s hard to resist when it’s right in front of me!  They obviously know that you can see the pool from the window, but don’t seem to have a clue that I might be looking or maybe they don’t care.  Even worse, my little brother who’s only 12 and shares my room was watching our sisters which I think is very wrong and not good for him.  I told him he had to stop or I’d tell our mom, so he doesn’t do it any more when I’m there.  However, I can’t control what he does when I’m not there and I suspect that he still watches them, but he denies it and I can’t prove it.  I just wish that we weren’t in this position.

        I also agree that some girls wear bathing suits that reveal too much.  I like seeing attractive girls in bathing suits that are somewhat revealing, but some of the suits I’ve seen lately go too far, and they look gross on girls who are overweight, but some wear them anyway.  I also find it gross when girls wear these bathing suits and don’t even bother to wax their bikini lines as some do.


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      2. By Mandy, age 16, from Santa Ana, CA on 07/10/2015

        I agree that skinny dipping is harmless as long as it’s all girls.  The same would be true if it was all guys, but I don’t hear about guys doing it, but it is common with girls and my sister and I and my girlfriends and I enjoy doing it together.  As you say, normal teenage girls see other girls nude in many circumstances such as sleepovers and slumber parties and the locker room or changing to go swimming when we do wear bathing suits.  My sister and I share a room so we see each other nude every day and couldn’t care less about it.  If this is a problem, most girls are in big trouble! LOL! But it’s not, and when girls skinny dip together their not seeing anything their not already seeing all the time anyway.  And the idea that this would make a girl gay is the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard.  If girls seeing other girls nude made them gay, we’d all be gay, but were not which proves the point!

        According to my brother, guys consider girls who wear the type of bathing suits that just barely cover the pudenda and butt crack with tops that show 99% of a girl’s cleavage are considered sluts. I’m not a prude and wear a bikini when I go swimming in a coed group.  But its a reasonably modest one that doesn’t overly expose my body.  And I definitely wax my bikini lines and wouldn’t even think about wearing a bikini without doing so. 


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      3. By Marlene, age 40, from Santa Rosa, California on 07/12/2015

        I agree that revealing bathing suits are much more a matter of concern than girls swimming in the nude together or otherwise seeing each other nude. 

        I allow my daughters to wear reasonable 2 piece bikinis, but not sting/thong bikinis that have become common as I believe that they reveal far too much.  They have protested and said that it’s “what everyone is wearing,” but I have remained firm.  First of all, I have never allowed them to use the “everyone is doing it” excuse that teenagers use about many things. Secondly, from my observations, while such bathing suits are not uncommon,  it cannot be said that “everyone” wears them.  I do agree that N.B.‘s mother goes to far by only allowing a 1 piece bathing suit.

        I see nothing wrong with girls skinny dipping with other girls and did so myself as a teenager and it never did me any harm.  We have a hot tub that my daughters use in the nude with each other and female friends and they have gone skinny dipping at a friend’s house.  They remain normal, healthy, straight teenage girls.  As Lori says, teenage girls are going to see other girls nude anyway, and it is not going to do any harm, and certainly will not make them become gay.  As Mandy says, if that were true, then all teenage girls would become gay, but in fact the vast majority remain straight.  I am not saying that there is anything wrong with being gay and could accept it if one of my daughters told me that she was, but that is a separate issue.  I have used our hot tube in the nude with my own sister as well as with a few close female friends and it has done me no harm.


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  2. By Ted, age 17, from Garden Grove, California, US on 07/07/2015

    I agree that many girls these days are wearing bathing suits that expose too much.  I’m a healthy straight teenage guy and enjoy seeing an attractive girl in a bathing suit as much as anybody.  However, I wish that girls would leave at least a little bit to the imagination.  And for girls who are even a little bit overweight, wearing suits that expose almost everything makes them less, not more, attractive to guys!

    My sisters have gone to wearing string bikini bathing suits that are about as skimpy as possible, and it makes me very uncomfortable to see them this way.  Unlike some sisters I’ve read about in Straight Talk, they don’t walk around naked or in their thongs in front of me and keep the door to their room closed when they’re undressed.  But they might as well be walking around in their thongs when they wear bathing suits that expose almost everything and just barely (pun intended) cover their privates, and the tops cover their nipples but not much else and they both have large breasts.


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  3. By S.G., age 16, from Redding, CA on 07/07/2015

    People put me down because I prefer to wear a 1 piece bathing suit that covers most of my body.  However, I think the skimpy bathing suits that many girls wear expose way too much and as Ted says, I think that most guys would prefer at least something left to the imagination.  However, my sister is the opposite and wears the skimpiest string thong bikini that there is.  Even though she’s my sister, it bothers me to see her in this as I think it makes her looks slutty.  It may sound strange, but we share a room so I see her nude every day and that doesn’t bother me in the least, but that doesn’t expose her in a slutty way the way her bathing suits do.

    On the skinny dipping issue, I see nothing wrong with that as long as it’s all girls.  I have a friend with a pool and have gone skinny dipping with her and her sister when I’ve been there for sleepovers on hot nights and am totally comfortable with it since we’re all girls and all the same.  However, I don’t believe in overly exposing my body when I go swimming with guys present.


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  4. By Rob, age 17, from Salinas, CA on 07/08/2015

    This is also starting way too young.  My younger sisters who are only 13 and 14 wear string bikinis!  When our mom was reluctant to allow it, they pleaded that “it’s what all the girls are wearing now,”  and she gave in.  From what I’ve seen, I think it’s true, but it still makes me sick to see my little sisters exposing their bodies this way!  I had to talk to my mom to get them to stop walking around naked and in their thong underwear in front of me (yes, they’re already wearing thong underwear also) after they reached puberty and to keep the door to their room closed when they were undressing as it didn’t phase them for me to see them this way, but it did bother me as it gave me shameful feelings that you shouldn’t have about your little sisters!  But when they wear these bikinis that expose almost everything, I feel like I might as well be seeing them naked again anyway, and it makes me very uncomfortable!

    Even in girls my age, I agree with Ted and it turns me off, not on when girls expose too much as many girls do these days.  I also like seeing an attractive girl in a bathing suit, but I don’t need to see too much.  And girls who do insist on wearing thong bikinis definitely need to wax!  I find it sickening when you can see a girl’s pubic hair on the sides of her thong.  That’s a REAL turnoff!


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    1. By Terri, age 17, from Placentia, CA on 07/08/2015

      Thanks, Rob.  I’m going to try to get my stepsister to read your comment and hopefully she will believe it coming from a guy.  She wears a thong bikini, but doesn’t wax and you can see her pubic hair, and it looks sickening.  Similar to what S.G. says, seeing her nude when we share a room during visitations doesn’t bother me at all since we’re both girls and have become sort of like sisters.  However, seeing her in her thong bikini and exposing pubic hair is sickening to me.  I’ve tried to tell her that this is a big turnoff to guys, but she won’t listen to me and won’t wax as she says the prefers to be natural.  My best friend and I help each other wax and have become good at it if I do say so myself, and I’ve offered to help her, but she doesn’t want to do it.  I think a girl should either wax or not wear the kind of bathing suit that shows off this much, and if she doesn’t want to do a total wax job, she should at least wax her bikini lines.  It’s not an issue of modesty as she and I have become completely comfortable with our nudity in front of each other, so I don’t understand why she won’t let me help her wax.


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  5. By N.B., age 16, from Garden Grove, CA, U.S.A. on 07/11/2015

    I agree that some bathing suits these days are way too revealing.  However, our mom goes too far the other way.  She thinks any kind of 2 piece bathing suit is “sinful” and will only let my sister and me wear a 1 piece bathing suit.  Nobody our age wears those these days, and everybody laughed at us when we went swimming at a friend’s house in them.  So we just don’t go swimming anymore which means were left out of many activities in the summertime.  The same thing with underwear.  She won’t let us wear thong underwear or even bikini underwear since that also is “sinful.”  We have to wear the kind of panties that older women wear, but again no girls our age wear them, and again everybody laughs at us when we undress in the girls’ locker room and at sleepovers and slumber parties.  We tried to wear thong underwear behind her back, but our room doesn’t have a lock and she walked in on us unexpectedly when we were getting dressed and caught us.  She grounded us and now she constantly searches our room when were not there and periodically barges in on us when were getting dressed to make sure that were not trying to wear anything “sinful.” The same thing with waxing.  She also will not allow that for the same reason.  Most of our friends wax and again we look different than everyone else when were in situations when we undress together.

    We don’t want to wear the type of over-revealing bathing suits that Mom in Woodland is writing about, just a reasonable 2 piece bathing suit so that we won’t be laughed at and do not think that is unreasonable.  The same thing with thong or at least bikini underwear and being able to wax.  It’s really difficult when your mom forces you to be different than everybody else when your a teenager.


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  6. By Bethany, age 16, from Cornwall, United Kingdom on 10/27/2016

    I wear thong bikinis and swimsuits whenever I go swimming, a girl should be able to trust boys not to grope them and I prefer girls anyway. Yes, they might stare but I quite like that. Also even though we don’t get much sunshine here, in the summer, I hate the normal tan lines, thongs are so much nicer.

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