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Does City's Swimsuit Policy Sexualize Young Girls?

A woman in Guelph, Ontario, is calling for a policy change after her eight-year-old daughter was told to cover up at a public pool in the city.

Anika Warmington and her family were visiting the wading pool at Exhibition Park last weekend. Her children didn’t have bathing suits with them so they took their shirts off and went in the pool in just their shorts.

Warmington’s daughter Marlee was playing with her brothers in the pool when a lifeguard asked Marlee her age, then told her she needed to put on a shirt.

According to Warmington, her daughter “felt embarrassed and singled out which is really terrible.”

Warmington later learned that the city’s policy is that girls and women over the age of four are required to wear bathing suit tops at public pools. She believes this needs to change.

“Essentially the city of Guelph is sexualizing girls from the age of four and that’s disgusting…All of a sudden you’re made to feel as a girl that somehow your body needs to be covered, even though it looks exactly like everyone else’s.”

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Kristene Scott, the general manager of the Guelph parks and recreation department, commented on the incident.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy our recreational facilities and we respect the rights and freedoms of people visiting and working in our recreational centers.”

Scott went on to say, “We believe that there is a bona fide need to balance the needs of patrons and staff, some of which may object if girls or women over the age of four are allowed to be topless.”

She also added that the city wants to make sure that lifeguards don’t feel uncomfortable if they have to touch someone to save them in the water.

However, there are still objections from the public to this policy. Marion Gruner is a friend of Warmington’s, as well as the mother of a four-year-old daughter. Gruner called the policy “antiquated and backwards.”

She believes that policies such as the one the city of Guelph uses tell young girls that “their bodies are somehow provocative and shameful and should be covered.”

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