I have a 10 year-old daughter so I know first-hand the fashions and swimwear that are currently being marketed to younger girls. And in addition to the bikinis, I see short shorts, bare midriff tanks, suggestive slogans on tiny t-shirts… all deemed as trendy for young girls.
So what are parents to do when our daughters want us to buy summer clothes that give us pause? While it takes extra effort, there are many appealing options available. Take the time to search them out. Your decision to say "no" is based on her safety. Focus your comments on her safety, and try to explain in simple terms how you are concerned about the ways older people might view her if she wears a particular outfit. I suggest the following type of response that I have adapted from Greenspan and Deardorff in their highly recommended book The New Puberty: Abby, I am not going to buy that swimsuit for you.
We have rules in this family, and saying no to suits that look like they are made for much older girls is one of them. The rules we have in place are to keep you safe. Remember, we love you and want you to stay safe.
When she is wearing sexy bikinis, short shorts, or midriff baring tops, she will be thinking about managing the clothes tugging to keep them in place rather than being comfortable and having the freedom to run and play. Several years ago I taught a class of kindergartners and took the children outside to play. So these 5- year old girls sat and stared at their feet while the rest of the class had a wonderful time laughing and running around the playground.
The lesson is this: They fell down, got dirt on their clothes, and kept running. I loved that her female coach made them run sprints and endurance drills at the end of practice in the degree Louisiana humidity.
This not only builds character and endurance, but for a few hours per week, the girls on the team were not at all focused on their appearances. They were not self-conscious; they were not worried about what other people thought about their looks, their bodies, or their hair.
They were just running, sweating, kicking, and actually having fun. They were acting like 10 year olds! This may seem countercultural, and you might be the only parent in your social circle making choices that go against the norm. It might be hard at times, but allow your daughter to be a child for as long as she needs to be.