I (male) and a friend (female) went swimming in a public outdoor pool together. She met with another female friend there. When she (my friend) sat outside for a couple minutes the sun made her swimming suit quite transparent so that her breasts were partially visible.

Now at the point I didn't want to interrupt her as she was talking with her friend at the time and make things even more awkward and with time passing by it kept getting more awkward (aka why did I wait telling her?) To make things worse, she even has a boyfriend, which I too like and I don't want to ruin the relationship between any of us.

As we plan to go swimming again, I'm wondering what would be a good way to address this politely and if possible without being awkward?

  • 20
    I'd love to answer your question, but there is important information missing from it, so I cannot. What is the culture like where you are at - is this a common thing? Is it acceptable where you are, and/or at that pool? Is that typical behaviour for your friend, often wearing revealing clothing in public? Are you wanting to "tell" her, just in case she does not already know, or because it offends you, or because it disrespects her boyfriend, who is also your friend? How to tell her, indeed, even whether or not to tell her, depends on knowing more about the culture and about her.
    – User 27
    Jul 26, 2017 at 4:59
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    Could you add a country tag to this question, and edit this question and add some information about the cultural context? The answer to this question will depend on your cultural context.
    – user288
    Aug 4, 2017 at 14:23
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    A bit late to the party, but I feel there's important information missing here: how close a friendship are we talking about? I have several female friends to whom I could easily say something like "hey, your boobs are on display right now" without anyone feeling awkward in the slightest.
    – Jon
    Aug 20, 2017 at 19:23

7 Answers 7


The situation sounds like it is over, so I definitely do not think bringing it up now is necessary.

While the situation was unfolding you could have just waited for her to finish talking to her friend and then quietly said something about it to her. I suggest something vague and lighthearted like:

"Hey ____, that swimsuit gets kind of awkward in direct sunlight, just figured I would let you know"

If she cares she might ask you to elaborate, in which case you can tell her, but if she doesn't then no need to push the issue. She can dress however she wants, you're really just warning her in case she doesn't already know.

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    Well as we're going swimming together again, I'm afraid this might happen again. Of course she can dress how she says but I'd doubt she wants to give so much insights
    – user310
    Jul 11, 2017 at 15:44
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    But you start with, "Did you know..." You could even apologise for noticing "I couldn't help but notice..."
    – RedSonja
    Aug 16, 2017 at 10:15

I'd like to answer this from a female perspective as the other answers appear to be male.

First off, just because she wore it once does not mean she is "aware" it's see-through and just chooses to wear it anyway. More than likely, she really has no idea and will be embarrassed by it. (fitting rooms do not offer realistic "sunlight" lighting)

I think the most ideal time to have said something was around when you first noticed. Depending on the closeness of the relationship and how you two interact, I'd try to word it as neutral as possible. Saying something like,

Hey, sorry if this is awkward, but did you know your top is a bit transparent in the sun?

Or I really like Joe S's wording as well.

If she does know and chose to still wear it, I'd expect her to be able to shrug off your comment without issue.

If she does not, I would expect her to be a bit embarrassed, turn to her friend and go, "OMG is he right?!"

Since you did not mention it the first time, I wouldn't mention it until you go swimming again and "notice" it again. If her boyfriend is there and you guys have a decent enough relationship, maybe make a comment to him in a concerned tone,

Hey man, does Jess know her top is kinda transparent?

I'd make a comment at a time where it seems like you just happened to notice (not that you've been mulling over this for days). Maybe if you're grabbing her a drink or something, when you go to give it to her, mention it then.

Some other things to keep in mind:

  • Try to keep it as private as possible. Make a quiet comment to just her. I think if a close friend of hers or her bf are in within earshot or right there, you're fine bringing it up.
  • Try to down play it to alleviate any embarrassment she may feel if she seems really taken aback by it.

Location wasn't stated, this is a U.S. perspective.

  • 2
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Catija
    Dec 10, 2017 at 5:55
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    Why would you talk to her boyfriend instead of to her about how she dresses? Seems quite disrespectful talking over her head like that.
    – eirikdaude
    Dec 14, 2017 at 11:59
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    @eirikdaude I took it more as allowing the boyfriend to broach the subject since he, I assume, knows the lady better and is better equipped to hand the conversation. Or, the boyfriend could make it seem that he noticed it and not the friend. It's more acceptable for a boyfriend to seem to be gawking instead of a friend. Feb 25, 2019 at 17:01

If I had to tell a woman something personal like "your fly is down" or "I can see through your swimming suit," I would ask another woman to tell the first woman on my behalf. If necessary, I might even tell the first woman, that I asked the second woman to tell her something I wanted her to hear but didn't want to tell her myself.

That would get the message across, but avoid the direct man-woman contact.

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    Second this, I was in a smiliar situation but not with a friend but a complete stranger and asked a couple of female friends afterwards how they would've wanted someone to handle the situation. Hearing this from another female was always preferred, even if the was a stranger as well.
    – Bowdzone
    Sep 29, 2017 at 9:32

I wouldn't listen to those who say you're just sexualizing her body or projecting your modesty and what not. Being at a public pool in a swimsuit are two factors that tells me she probably don't want her chest showing - There's also common sense. They might be right but I'm sure most people would mind!

It is impossible to know how she feels without saying something and it's only going to get more awkward the longer you ignore it. If someone else tells her when she's in that suit for the 10th time with you and she wonder why you haven't said something. I don't think "the internet told me not to" would be an appreciated answer. Telling her will only be an awkward few minutes. Better than being awkward around her all the time at the pool, and thinking about it afterwards.

Just a simple "is it supposed to do that?" might do the trick.

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    I upvoted you because your answer is the most reasonable one that actually offers some IPSkilled way to handle what the person asking already decided to do. You might consider moving your actual answer to the top and move the extended critic of other people's answers to the bottom.
    – J A
    May 10, 2018 at 21:53

In my experience, if a woman wears a bathing suit a second time she knows what it does and how it looks. If she is concerned about how revealing it is there are options that will allow her to protect her modesty and wear the suit. But the reality is some people do not find the need to be particularly modest about their breasts and nipples.

If that offends you or makes it awkward for you then you need to decide how you want to address that. The easiest way is to ask her if she would mind wearing a less revealing swimsuit around you. I would choose to handle it as discreetly as possible. But it is possible that she will still take offense.

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    OMG no. I had a yellow one once that was totally transparent when wet. When I bought it of course in the shop it was dry. The first time I wore it to swin in men were staring at me and I looked down, went all red, wrapped myself in a towel and fled.
    – RedSonja
    Aug 16, 2017 at 10:13
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    @RedSonja - And I am guessing you did not wear that suit a second time. Aug 16, 2017 at 12:31
  • It landed in the bin. Not even in the recycling bin. My face is red even now, just thinking about it.
    – RedSonja
    Aug 16, 2017 at 13:12
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    Indeed, and offence can only be taken, not given.. so it sounds more like an issue that the OP needs to get over than anything else..
    – Caius Jard
    Aug 29, 2017 at 23:38
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    The last paragraph does not answer the question: How to do this without being awkward?
    – Vylix
    May 11, 2018 at 1:19

Why does it even need to be brought up?

To reverse an old quip: bodies are like opinions... everyone has one.

Bodies are not automatically sexual. Sexualizing is in the eye and mind of the beholder. So if you are regarding her attire as something awkwardly sexual, it is you who have made it awkward and sexual, not her.

The only exception to this rule is if her attire and behaviour is in violation of local regulations or the law. And wearing a covering swimsuit at a public bath hardly seems like that.

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    If the local culture is such that she would likely be embarrassed, then I certainly wouldn't want to risk her possibly suspecting I said nothing because I was enjoying the view.
    – WGroleau
    Dec 9, 2017 at 6:29
  • @WGroleau If you bring it up you are giving away that you were looking, and that you did notice. And if you then express embarrassment over it, my first thought would be: "Why? Why is he embarrassed?" And you know what the first answer would be: "Oh... because he did enjoy it and now he is feeling bad about it". And then all of a sudden you have a reason to be embarrassed. Plus you are putting her(!) in an awkward position. No, this is a time where ignorance is prudent. Fake it if you have to. "What? Oh... I did not notice, not in the habit of gawking at girl's chests in public you know".
    – MichaelK
    Dec 9, 2017 at 19:29
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    Nonsense. I don't have to "look" to be aware of something. I've spotted spelling errors just walking past a typist, and books out of place walking down the row in a library. Very few females would be fooled by such a pretense. Especially not in a society where they're being brainwashed to believe all men are lechers.
    – WGroleau
    Dec 9, 2017 at 21:30
  • @WGroleau One comment ago you were worried about "her possibly suspecting [...] I was enjoying the view". In this comment you instead argue that this is what everyone are suspecting anyway, and you use this to justify calling my comment "nonsense". Poor form... really poor form. I stand by my answer: there is nothing that needs to be brought up. Bringing it up creates needless awkwardness for all, and creates an issue where there is none. Feign ignorance and keep your mouth shut about it, whether you enjoyed the view or not.
    – MichaelK
    Dec 9, 2017 at 21:43

If you are already strongly established as friends and there is no ambiguity in your relationship, there shouldn't be any problem by you telling her, you being male doesn't automatically turn the situation sexually relevant.

But as you didn't tell her on time, now you will be telling her after the fact.

By staying safe, I bet you expected her female friend to tell her, which is not too crazy to expect. So next time you see her wearing the same bathing suit you could tell her:

I thought your friend would've told you the other day at the pool.

This way you protect yourself with cultural gender expectations, have a big towel prepared in case she feels self-aware and embarrassed, but don't offer the towel in advance because it will imply you think she should be covering her body (and she has a right to be sexy by whatever strategy she chooses to follow).

If you don't see her wearing the same outfit, that would mean someone else did tell her and she was better at playing it cool than you, haha.

Be advised that acting so cool and useful about it with a straight face could make her think you are gay, as it has happened to me before. If you truly consider her just friends, you shouldn't care about that and she would eventually ask if you are gay anyway at some point on your relationship if she never sees you with a girlfriend or you never talk about your occasional dates, booty calls or whatevsies. But that is a whole different topic.

This answer assumes you already evaluated the situation right, and that means you, being her friend, you know that she wouldn't want her breasts to be showing, because you know her and we don't know her. Other answers seem condescending to me because they get all "teachy" on you taking political stands and gender generalizations and go blablabla wild.

If I'm missing something, I'll let the person asking provide more detail.

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