We met up with some friends at the American pool today, the pool inside the guarded area of the military housing complex; it's not my favorite place to visit, but I went for the sake of the friendships.
As we were prepping to leave, Young One was quite upset because she was unable to locate the top half of a particular swim suit, the one that offers the most coverage without being a one piece, the one we bought in the States. When I suggested that she just wear the other bikini, the one with far less coverage, the one bought in a local Italian store, she absolutely refused. She has worn both all summer, mostly in Italy. After a bit of conversation between us and some pressure from me, including a reminder that she was entirely comfortable in this swim suit and with going topless at the beach and pool in both Caorle and Ischia, she told me that Americans wear different swim suits and when she is with them, she wants to be like them. "I don't want to be different, Mamma." Fair enough.
|Topless with Matteo in Ischia|
We reached a solution when she found a suit tucked away for next year that is a bit big now. I let her wear it.
After a couple of hours at the pool, I noticed the young lifeguards on the other side of the pool preoccupied with something near us. I looked around and all seemed well. Kids were well-behaved...adults, too. I could not imagine the source of their concern. Eventually one of the young lifeguards came over to tell the German mother next to us that her toddler must wear a bottom at all times. The baby was maybe 18 months old. The baby was not in the pool. The baby was not running around like a crazed kid. It was break time, and her mother removed her swim diaper for a bit. She must wear a bottom. It's the rule. (Ironically, she didn't require a swim diaper bottom, you know, for the purposes of hygiene. No, just a bottom, even while hanging out on the deck with your Mom and her friends.) What the heck?
|With Crazy Cousins at Grandma and Paw's Pool|
Later, as we were leaving, an Italian friend arrived at the pool with a gang of his visiting in-laws and his two young boys. (Both wore bottoms, by the way.) I just happened to be near a couple of the young lifeguards when one of the well-tanned bikini-clad aunts ( in her late 50's) entered the pool. Those teens snickered and sneered and giggled...obviously bothered by the body of the woman. What the heck?
Young One already feels the different attitudes about body image between the two cultures. Those teens are simply products of our American culture. I just hope with all my heart that my girl is blessed to be able to choose Italian on this one and reject all those Puritan influences that haunt American culture today.
PS. If you think I'm suggesting that I think she should be running topless at the American pool or on a beach with Matteo when she is sixteen, then you have sorely missed the point! And I have no doubt that Italian women deal with body image issues as well. What I experienced today is somehow a separate issue from those.