Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How will you use your beauty? The Bikini Question

The Bikini Question

Swimwear has been on my mind frequently lately, as C and I have been at the pool most days that it hasn’t been raining. 

This is a fantastic video of a presentation by actress and swimsuit designer, Jessica Rey that I just saw in an article on Mercator. (Her swimsuits can be found here.)

I highly recommend watching the video - it’s just under 10 minutes - but here are the points I love that she makes. 

  • The bikini was invented in France by french engineer Louie Réard. He named it after the the site of the atomic bomb testing that year - Bikini Atoll. He thought the public’s reaction would be like an atomic bomb explosion and he was right. His design was based on exposing the belly button for the first time and he said it wouldn’t be a true bikini unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring. (Dang... that’s not much fabric!)
  • It was so scandelous that no french model would wear it so he had to hire a stripper to debut his bikini.
  • If you go to the beach today - it seems as though every woman is wearing one. It wasn’t an instant hit in the US however. In 1957, Modern Girl Magazine said it was hardly necessary to waste words on the so-called bikini because no girl with tact or decency would ever wear such a thing. One writer described it as a two-piece bathing suit that revealed everything about a girl except her mother’s maiden name.
  • Obviously, times have changed. A NY times reporter called the bikini the millennial equivalent to the power suit. What kind of power does it bring?
  • A Princeton study done asked How does the male brain react to seeing people in different amounts of clothing?
  • When men were shown photos of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tools, such as screwdrivers or hammers, lit up.
  • Some men showed zero brain activity in the medial pre-frontal cortex - the part of the brain that lights up when one ponders another person’s thoughts, feeling and intentions. Researchers found this shocking because they almost never see this part of the brain shut down in this way. A Princeton professor said It’s as if they are reacting to these women as if they are not fully human. It’s consistent with the idea that they are responding to these photographs as if they are responding to objects, not people.
  • So... it does give a woman power - the power to shut down the part of a man’s brain where he sees her as a person, not an object.

Modesty. The word is often met with disdain. Does it mean we need to be frumpy, dumpy and out of fashion? 

Jessica’s goal is to disprove the age-old notion that when it comes to swimsuits that less is more. You can dress modestly without sacrificing fashion.

Her model/inspiration is Audrey Hepburn - she’s got some really cute suits such as this one named Holly:

Well, I probably won't wear my hair like this :)
Named for Audrey's character Holly in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Her tagline is - who says it has to be itsy-bitsy? Modesty isn’t about covering up our bodies because they are bad. It isn’t about hiding ourselves, it’s about revealing our dignity. We were made beautiful in His image and likeness.
Her final question in the video is: How will you use your beauty?

I confess - I used to wear them. Everyone did (still does, it seems) so I joined the crowd sometime in high school. I had some cute ones that I loved. And there is no doubt - they are much, much, MUCH easier to find than an attractive one-piece. I can remember one time while on vacation (years ago) that someone commented that they thought I was running around in my bra - not my swimsuit. Yikes! I remember feeling really uncomfortable, but I still wore them for a few more years. Finally, I really starting thinking about it more and realized it was exactly like running around in my bra and underwear... the only difference is the fabric.

What did you think of the video? And honestly asking - what are your thoughts on swimwear?


  1. Yes! Ever since I left my 20's I have felt like a bikini is a bra and underwear, just waterproof! I wear a tankini and a bottom that is like a skirt. I got it from lands' end. I love those old school one pieces that are out this season, though. I saw one in a department store that I loved, but it was like $170!! Are they crazy?

  2. Yes, wore one...last time...on my honeymoon to Mexico...I was 19! Had my first when I was 21...starting wearing one pieces. I wanted to be able to play in the pool/ocean with my daughter and not worry about exposing anymore than necessary. I think a lot of "fashion" (using the termly loosely) has gotten a bit too risque. Young girls (under 13) are even wearing some seriously questionable things these days. My girls are still young, and yes, do have bikinis...but they aren't "hanging" out of them like some. I am appalled sometimes when I go to the shopping mall, not the beach/pool...the shopping mall and see what some of these young (and NOT so young) girls are wearing. On the verge of public indecency or what should be considered indecent. I am far from being prim and proper nor a prude...but I too had to question when having your bra straps and thong show in public became acceptable. I just don't get why most think less is more...more sexy, more attractive, etc. Believe me, I have the same issue with the pant waist down around the knees and the guys boxers showing. I love the line of suits she has...just goes to show you can be "covered" and still look attractive. I personally have an awful time finding a suit since I have a long torso (both my girls do too...hence why they choose a bikini).

  3. Completely agree! Great post and I love that suit.

  4. Try checking out swimsuits at They are not really made for modesty but for sun protection but I wear a long sleeve rash guard and the capris with the little skirt, for both reasons.

  5. I don't wear my underwear in public, therefore no bikinis for me.

    I've worn one once. On the beach in France and considering most of the women were topless, I was overdressed. Don't get me started on the naked guy in Barcelona. That was just too much to take!

  6. I wore a bikini ... maybe college & then again on our honeymoon. Then I put on weight. Now I hate swimming. LOL I like the cut of the more modest suits ... I just hate spending that much money when I know I'll only wear it a few times.

  7. I wore one in Hawaii on a second honeymoon with just Andrew and I.

    Other than that, I only wear one pieces or tankini's with skirts (from Lands End only).

    I can't even stand it when little girls wear them.

  8. I am getting ready to go swimsuit shopping and I'm dreading it. I do like tankini's so I'm hoping Target won't let me down b/c I totally agree on the "might as well wear your bra and underwear" about a bikini (but yes, I did used to wear them.).

  9. Yes! I too used to wear them (in my younger, skinnier days). Some were cute, but looking back, they all left little to the imagination. In fact, I'm pretty sure if I had worn just a bra and undies I would have been covering more.

    Now I wear a tankini with a skirt (my skirt is from lands end, LOVE IT) I have a black bottom and I mix and match the tops. I will agree, it's hard to find tops that are modest but not frumpy. But land's end rarely disappoints and lately I've found some cute ones at target.

  10. Bought my first to wear during the honeymoon. In our room (we had a jacuzzi in the room our first night! We were living large!), ONLY. Now that I am old and out of shape, the temptation is pretty much gone. It's more of a "how much cellulite do you want to show?" question. (Answer: uh, less.) I always followed the precept that modesty was only situation-dependent where that made logical sense: i.e., at the doctor's office. There's no special quality to strangers on the beach that means they ought to see more of you than the same strangers at the grocery store, where you certainly wouldn't appear in your underwear. But this raises another question: is just having your navel covered sufficiently modest?

    I pondered this answer along my usual lines: what looks attractive? Having pieces of thigh-fat sticking out (and I had them even when I was skinny) is not attractive. Neither is clinging to an imperfectly-sculpted tummy, nor digging into your chest under your arm. So I figured that swimming attire had to approximate real clothing for those purposes. If I went to the water park or the beach and the men wore shorts and t-shirts, I would wear shorts and a t-shirt over my swimsuit. This seemed normal and appropriate to me. Eventually I bought a tankini (but didn't like the leg-holes - even though they were fairly low, I just don't find it necessary to be showing skin in that area). The tank fits well but, of course, the v-neck is so low that it's questionable even on me. Then I found a pair of adorable swim shorts at Target. They are only snug at the waist and they have a little ruffle. They are considerably more attractive than bikini bottoms, because they smooth out the leg line instead of leaving a random piece of hip bulging out. And while I would not wear shorts that short in general (I actually don't wear shorts), at a beach where every other female is nearly naked, even if I'm not objectively being modest, I'm getting zero attention. It's a work in progress, but that's a start.

  11. I'm planning on wearing shorts and a top this summer for swimming, i think bathing suit shippingshopping will be too depressing this summer with my baby weight. I've seen this video before, I do like her points. And i really really like the bathing suit picturespictured. Tempting!


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