An impromptu visit to a wading pool in Guelph, Ont. turned into an upsetting situation for two parents when their daughter was told to cover up.
Over the weekend, Cory McLean and Anika Warmington were at a local park with their kids when their eight-year-old daughter Marlee spotted a wading pool, took off her shirt and ran in to play.
Moments later, a supervisor told them their daughter had to cover up.
The girl’s parents say they were shocked when it happened, especially because there was no problem with their sons, who also went in to the pool shirtless.
McLean told CTV Kitchener that he feels his daughter was body-shamed.
“You hope that never happens, but you know it’s going to eventually,” he said. “Basically she’s eight years old, and she’s been sexualized by a stranger.”
Her parents told CTV Kitchener that their daughter, who was already feeling self-conscious was “pretty embarrassed” and put her shirt on.
But the city of Guelph says it has rules about attire in enclosed supervised facilities, and they apply to the wading pool.
“Females over the age of four years old must wear appropriate bathing attire, and that would include a bathing top,” Parks and Recreation general manager Kristene Scott told CTV Kitchener.
The policy, Scott said, was introduced to provide a “safe, enjoyable” recreational experience for staff, patrons and visitors.
But the family says that since they are responsible for their children while in the wading pool, their attire should be up to them.
They would like to see the rules on appropriate attire changed so that it applies equally to both genders.
“The city is sexualizing little girls,” Warmington said. “If they want children to wear clothing from the neck down, then all the children should have to wear it.”
The city says they are planning to discuss the matter with the staff member involved, but at this point they don’t anticipate that they will make any changes to the rules.
The family has reached out to the mayor of Guelph for an opportunity to discuss their concerns.
With a report by CTV Kitchener’s Krista Simpson