The Bikini Body | Teen Ink

The Bikini Body

June 18, 2014
By FullPotential GOLD, Downingtown, Pennsylvania
FullPotential GOLD, Downingtown, Pennsylvania
12 articles 25 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
Realism is an excuse for mediocrity.

I remember the year I moved out of the children’s swimsuit section. It was a traumatic time, to say the least. Imagine being a young, impressionable child, simply wanting a pretty pink swimsuit, possibly with a picture of Cinderella on it. Instead, you are escorted into a very scary section of the store where such fashions do not exist. Instead of hundreds of options of adorable swimsuits, you are now confronted with only two choices. You could go left and choose a blue or black skirted monstrosity, intended only for someone over sixty, or you could go right and pay one hundred twenty dollars for thirty square inches of fabric that will certainly come off on the first cannonball. Such decisions still plague me. Whoever said that bikinis are empowering to young girls? And was it this person who decided the only other swimsuit option should have the likeness of a balloon? I don’t blame the designers, or the marketers, or the horribly misled teens who extol these designs. No, I choose to blame Louis Réard.

It turns out that working in a lingerie shop can be inspiring to some men. I assume it was this occupation that inspired Louis Réard to invent the infamous bikini. He named it after Bikini Atoll, an atomic bomb testing site. His hope was the swimsuit would have a similarly explosive effect. It did. Magazines refused to print it. Stores wouldn’t sell it. No French model would wear it. He eventually hired a prostitute to pose in his creation. The media denounced it as “ugly,” “inappropriate,” and “degrading.” It wasn’t until the sexual revolution in the 1960’s that the bikini finally became popular. Despite the initial horror it triggered, Réard still received hundreds of fan letters. Predominantly from males.

The effect of the bikini on men has been widely studied. One specific study from Princeton examined brain reactions to pictures of scantily clad women on 21 heterosexual men. Most men’s medial prefrontal cortex shut down when shown pictures of women in bikinis. This is the part of the brain that ponders a person’s thoughts and intentions. Researchers were stunned, because this part of the brain rarely shuts down. It was as if the men didn’t see the girls as human. Additionally, the parietal cortex lit up. This part of the brain deals with tools such as hammers and saws. The women were something to be used, a means of pleasure, and nothing more. Sadly, women and girls tend to cater to this warped mindset.

Celebrity Kris Jenner had the wild idea that putting a picture of herself in a very small two piece on Instagram might garner some media attention. Within hours of the posting, many articles popped up, with riveting titles such as, “Kris Jenner, 57, Flaunts Bikini Body,” or “Kendall Jenner and Mom Kris Show Off Bikini Bodies,” or, my personal favorite, “Kris Jenner Reveals Insane Bikini Body.” The focus of the titles is not on the person, but on the person’s practically naked body, dubbed a “bikini body.” The very phrase “bikini body” entails not a person wearing a small nylon-spandex blend, but a column of skin and bones draped in a few inches of fabric. The titles suggest that she does not have thoughts, feelings, or personality, but is simply a body wearing a swimsuit. With this evidence alone, why would researchers be surprised by the dehumanizing effects of the bikini? Often, women unknowingly cater to this, especially when they entice publications to spread their bikini bodies across the world. It was Kris Jenner’s intention to have her body analyzed when she posted the photo, but it propagates the idea that a woman’s body is something to be ogled, not valued.

We don’t own bikinis; bikinis own us. Bikinis dehumanize and degrade society as a whole. They shut down a man’s ability to view the woman as human and they hurt self-esteem of women who don’t have the perfect “bikini body.”

The dilemma is this: bikinis are cute! I just bought my first bikini and I love it. It is pink, has a big bow in the back, and covers me up nicely. But I also don’t want men to stare at my body as an object, a thing to be used. This leaves society with two options. The first is that women could give up the bikini altogether. Leave it for the Kate Uptons and Sports Illustrateds of this world. But as I previously mentioned, I like the bikini. Some of them are provocative and hideous, but many are rather cute. It would be a shame to give it up. The other option is to teach young men to control themselves. For some unknown and undeclared reason, our society finds it perfectly acceptable for young men to view women only as sexual objects. These tendencies run rampant, and may stem from sayings such as, “boys will be boys.”

For the fashionable women who want to be viewed as human when wearing a swimsuit, it’s not necessary to completely give up the bikini. Designers have taken it upon themselves to sell fashionable but modest bikinis online. Popular stores such as Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21 have options that are modest, yet adorable. Most of these fashions are “retro” in style and loo extremely classy. However, if you simply can’t justify wearing a bikini, there are always the old-lady swimsuits on the other side of the store.

The author's comments:
It turns out that working in a lingerie shop can be inspiring to some men. I assume it was this occupation that inspired Louis Réard to invent the infamous bikini.

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This article has 2 comments.

on Jun. 28 2014 at 10:02 pm
FullPotential GOLD, Downingtown, Pennsylvania
12 articles 25 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
Realism is an excuse for mediocrity.

Passion is all you need! Just learn how to filter that passion into a short, engaging piece, and you're set! Glad you enjoyed the article! 

Lialuvz SILVER said...
on Jun. 27 2014 at 6:55 pm
Lialuvz SILVER, Marshville, North Carolina
6 articles 2 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
There's a million of us just like me
Who dress like me
Walk,talk and act like me
They might just be the next best thing but not quite me

Okay let me just say I LOVE this,I also love what you said on your page about trying to be different and stand out because I totally understand what you're saying.I really want to write nonfiction/opinion/point of veiw pieces like this, I have an opinion on a lot of things but I dont know where to start.Also if you don't mind would you go look at  my nonfiction peices and tell me what you think?