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Young girls in bikinis: Cute or crude?

British actress Elizabeth Hurley, second right, and models

British actress Elizabeth Hurley, second right, and models pose for photographers at the launch of her beach clothes collection for girls aged two to ten years at Harrods department store in London. (Dec. 6, 2006) Credit: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Recently, Jessica Simpson was criticized for revealing a picture of her infant daughter, Max, in a yellow bikini during the premiere of Katie Couric's talk show, "Katie."

And just last week, Elizabeth Hurley was under fire for her skimpy kids' beach line, with critics claiming it sexualizes young girls.

All of this publicity about baby and kids' beach wear got me thinking: When did bathing suits turn into a water cooler topic?

Claude Knight, director of the child protection charity, Kidscape, weighed in on Simpson's drama: "It is very disturbing to see a young baby presented to the world wearing a bikini," he said in a recent US Weekly article. "It is hoped that parents will understand that 'baby bikinis' are totally inappropriate and that they contribute to the sexualization and commercialization of childhood. We should not be compromising the sanctity of our children's early years."

I never thought I'd have an opinion on a topic like this, but now that I have an 18-month-old daughter, I see things differently.

Maggie didn't wear a bikini this summer, but not because I thought it was inappropriate for her to be in a two-piece. It was more to protect her tender, young skin from the sun. Will I allow her to wear a bikini when she's a little older? Sure, why not? As long as the style is modest.

I was curious to learn what other Long Island moms thought about this topic so I reached out the North Shore Mamas group. Here's what some of the moms had to say:

"Personally I don't see any issue in them wearing bikinis. While I don't think that they should be skimpy (and honestly the photos of the Elizabeth Hurley ones didn't look any skimpier than the Lands End ones), as long as they are covering the necessary things, I don't see a difference between a one piece and a bikini - either way it's a bathing suit!" -- Naomi Edlin-Miller, of East Northport, mom of one girl

"I once saw a young 7-year-old girl wearing a black string bikini to swimming class. It made the girl look so much older than her age. I judge the mothers who buy these things for little girls. Shame on them." -- Maria Gonzalez-Prescod, of Bay Shore, mom of one boy and one girl

"While I personally would not put my daughter into a bikini as an infant, I don't judge people who do. In many European beaches, little boys AND girls run around with no shirt on, just bottoms!" -- Melissa, of Huntington, mom of two boys

"It's totally not my style. Girls can look just as cute in a nice one-piece bathing suit. Not to mention it provides a lot more sun coverage. I hate shopping for clothes for my 6-year-old daughter. Everything is way too old, and the shorts are just way too short these days!" -- Patricia Cunningham, of East Norwich, mom of 2 boys and one girl

"I think it's just as ridiculous as the baby high-heels I saw a few years ago. I'm certainly not offended by an infant in tiny apparel, however at a certain age, around 5 and up, I find the skimpy bikinis to be inappropriate." -- Devin Muller, of Commack, mom of one boy and one girl

"I saw the picture and thought she looked adorable! I do not see anything wrong with it at all. My daughter was in a bikini as an infant and wore them this summer too at the age of 3. To each his own, there are MUCH bigger things to worry about than what kind of bathing suit a baby or little girl is wearing. Lighten up people!" -- Jenn Gross, of Huntington, mom of one boy and one girl

"I agree that an infant in a bikini is fine, and especially cute if they are little chunky monkeys, but, I think at a certain age, probably 6 or so, skimpy bikinis are inappropriate and do make them look older than they are. What's the rush? Let them be little as long as they can! It is very hard these days to shop for girls over 5. Everything is so grown up and short!" -- Lisa Constantin, of Bayville, mom of three girls

What is your take? Are bikinis cute or crude for young girls to wear? Share your thoughts in our comment section below and vote in our poll below

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