Girls and Swimsuits


Sorry if a simple photographic “Portraits” blog seems to be turning into an opinion-fest, but when I look at the online environment the individual images exist in, I get a bit opinionated as well….

This is, on the face of it, a pretty (and extremely well-focused) shot of a red-headed girl enjoying herself at the beach with…..a wind-chime – the only origin I can find is a Chinese company using it to promote their swimwear products: I doubt they actually sourced it, but it probably means that no-one has the copyright.  However, a mommy-blog called Cool Mom came across it, and linked it to a strongly Anglo-Saxon diatribe against letting kids wear this sort of swimsuit when the sun is out. It’s medical in substance: melanomas exist – but it’s also very cultural. I live in Italy, near the beach, and while parents slather kids with blocking creams, there just isn’t the American/Australian rashguard-swimwear fetish. In Spain, for example, there is also a strong tradition of girls wearing no tops at all at the beach: most Spanish kids clothing sites sell just the bottom half of the bikini for little (flat-chested) girls as a choice, if that’s what the parents want.

This is the gist, starting with her reaction to the girl with the wind-chime:

“Lordy, the kids a red head! She should be in a tent….

As Woody Allen said in “Annie Hall”, “Everything our parents said was good for us is bad, the sun, milk, college.” We know melanoma is on the rise,  PARENTS WHY DON’T YOU PROTECT YOUR KIDS IN THE SUN.   I hear, “I slathered on the sunscreen.”  Yes, that’s good, but c’mon it’s not as good as having material covering the body.  I put on sunscreen on the exposed legs of my kids and they still get tan. They jump in the water, run around.  DO you really keep reapplying every 30 minutes?  I doubt it.  Plus my son is wiggly and it’s hard to get as much on him as I would like.  I have a long sleeved shirt for Rex sometimes, but I’ve been getting push back from Vivien for my Victorian ways because all of her friends are dressed like Kiddie Sports Illustrated. I’m firm.  Sun is up, rash guard swimwear is on. She’s lucky I don’t throw her in a burka.”

The blogger is a successful TV/media performer:

“Cool is the comedic brain ooze  of Daphne Brogdon, TV host, standup comic, wife of chef and mom-of-two  and  step mom.  Started primarily as a site for comedic videos for moms.  Blogs grew along the way.  It’s not just about parenting per say, but  also humorous slants at  politics, pop culture and palate.”

…and like a lot of American mommy-bloggers, has a superiority-complex conviction that her perspective on life is the correct one. As gently ironic commenter Bonnie found out:

“Bonnie on August 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm said:

Ava will be in a bathing suit next week. She wears sunscreen of course and her half Italian skin helps but just a heads up. I also wear a bathing suit….Will you be wearing a burka?”

….the unsmiling answer came swiftly:

“Daphne on August 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm said:

Italians get skin cancer as well. All colors and types of people get skin cancer.”

I think Italians understand the dangers, and are not known for a liberal attitude to child-rearing. They have been living the summer beach life for generations, and melanomas are perceived to be so rare that it hasn’t started to impinge on this part of their life-style. I’m not saying it won’t in the future, but I haven’t seen it yet….

(And if I can be snippy, “per say” is rather embarrassing, as is (elsewhere) getting “its” and “it’s” confused….  Finally, calling yourself “Cool Mom” is setting up a lot of conceptual difficulties – it’s a term of approbation only your kids can really give: maybe they have – but as they grow older and start to express their individual personalities more, it could well be a name that will come back to haunt her… If she gave it to herself, then she has a lot to live up to: in particular, what is “cool” to people other than her family/social group/region/financial bracket/ethnicity/age group etc. A rich, white, middle-class, middle-aged, Christian female just might not be “cool” to a lot of people….)


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