The two-piece swimsuit we know today as the bikini has only been marketed and sold as such for 60 years. But archaeologists have discovered Minoan wall paintings from 1600 B.C. and Roman mosaics from 300 A.D. that show the bikini, so the ancients were livin’ it up! Still, it is the debut of the modern bikini in 1946 and its later modifications that truly define the swimsuit.
The bikini was invented and launched by two French designers: Jacques Heim and Louis Reard. Heim was a swimsuit designer who had created a two-piece suit to be sold in his beach shop in Cannes. He marketed the swimsuit as the “atome,” (named for its small size and meant to be compared with the atom, the smallest particle of matter known). No doubt, it was an outrageously tiny swimsuit.
The same year, Reard was creating his own similar, two-piece swimsuit. He named and marketed his swimsuit as the bikini, claiming that it was “smaller than the smallest bathing suit in the world”. Reard christened his swimsuit the bikini in honor of experimental atomic bombs being detonated in the South Pacific, near the Bikini Reef.
So Reard’s name stuck, though by today’s standards, the bikinis of the 1940s and ’50s were positively modest in their coverage. Bottoms were cut above the navel, and tops fully covered the breasts.
Getting smaller by the year
The bikini went through several changes as time passed. Designers experimented with many varieties for the swimsuit, including a bikini top with attached propellers (!), a suit made entirely of red hair, and even a version made of porcupine quills.
As early as the 1950s, the bikini was already so small that it could be packed into a matchbook, but even more drastic shrinkage lay in store. In the 1970s, the sexual revolution in the United States caused designers to make the bikini even more revealing.
So we had string bikinis, which exposed the navel by fitting the bottoms on the hips. The top, too, provided only bra-style coverage. In the 1980s, the popular thong bikini arrived on the scene. Designers claimed the thong bikini originated from the clothing of Amazonian tribal groups in Brazil. As we know, the thong bikini leaves the bottom virtually uncovered and the back of the suit disappears into the buttocks.
In the 1990s and 2000s, designers have continued to revamp the bikini and innovated new styles. While the thong and string bikinis retain their popularity, the micro bikini has recently been added to the growing selection. Essentially, micro bikinis are bikinis combining a micro bikini top and a thong bikini bottom. Needless to add, it is scantier and more revealing than traditional bikinis and hence its name.
Buying micro bikinis
· A word of warning: you need to be careful that you don’t opt for a string bikini when you mean to buy a micro bikini. There are enough illustrated examples online to show you the difference.
· Numerous sites offer essential advice like how to shave your bikini line (hairy exposures will NOT do). Make sure your pubic area in particular is well shorn.
· Choose the fabric well. Test your skin for itches and allergic rashes, particularly since you will be spending a lot of time in the sun wearing your bikini
· Have plenty of sunscreen handy. You need to use liberal doses all over your body since you obviously will not have much on in terms of protection from the sun’s rays!
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Article Added on Tuesday, February 7, 2006
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