A few months ago, I saw an article about a school that held a swimming event. The school requested that girls wear t-shirts over their bathing suits for the event.
One mother publicly protested the rule because she felt that the school was going to make young girls feel ashamed of their bodies.
During my pre-teen and teen years, I was a member of the most amazing youth group—in fact, I still talk to most of my fellow members on a regular basis. We had a youth director who was quite aware of the age group he was dealing with. We went swimming on multiple occasions, and the rule was always that we were to wear t-shirts over our bathing suits.
I don’t remember feeling ashamed of my body. I don’t remember pondering, “Hmmm, what type of message does this rule send to me?” Uh—the message was something to the effect of, “Wear a t-shirt over your bathing suit and be ready at 1:00.” Period. It never occurred to me (and certainly not to my mother) to question that rule (or any other rule that he made for that matter). Frankly, knowing me, I probably had picks on the seat of my bathing suit from sitting at the edge of the pool last year anyway, so it was probably a relief. I don’t remember the details. But I do remember that all I could think about was a whole afternoon of swimming with my friends. Put on a t-shirt? Okay. Will there be brownies there like last time?
My daughter is in the pre-school age range now, but when she enters the pre-teen years, I hope she’s fortunate enough to have a youth pastor who is as protective as the ones I had. I PRAY that she does. I will urge her to cover up that little body of hers. Out of shame? Absolutely not. I want her to know that her body is a precious treasure.
Come on, girls. No matter what size we are, deep down, we know the value of our bodies. Didn’t ol’ John Mayer call us a “wonderland”? Putting a t-shirt over a swimsuit is a little like an artist who puts a drape over his painting until he chooses to reveal it at his art show. Is he ashamed of it? Or is the painting so precious that he’s a little picky about how and where and when it’s revealed—and to whom?