Monday, May 25, 2015

The Implications of Skimpification

Here’s a BBC article on the historical shrinking of swimwear, in conjunction with an exhibit at the Fashion and Textile Museum.

I don't care how much fabric is in those suits. These are sexy photos.

• • •

I’ve been contemplating why girls in swimsuits are sexier to me than girls in lingerie. I think I’ve stumbled upon something.

A bikini and a bra/panties combo are strikingly similar. They’re the same size and the same shape, and they cover the exact same areas of a woman’s body. But there’s a philosophical difference.

Lingerie is something a woman strips down to. A bikini is the outfit she puts on. The nearly identical articles of clothing are arrived at from opposite directions.

There’s something secretive about lingerie. In real life, seeing a woman dressed like that means she’s choosing to reveal herself to you in an intimate setting. (Which, make no mistake, is mind-blowingly sexy.)

But a swimsuit is worn publicly. The same amount of skin is shown, but there’s an air of “no big deal, I’m just swimming” about a bikini. I’m not sure I’ve put my finger on it, but it might be that the same level of sexuality is given a fun, everyday, celebratory personality to it.

It might account for that sense of “innocence” I have about the swimsuit issue that gets scandalized whenever a more overtly sexual approach pops up.

PSA: This shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it: Don’t gawk at swimsuit-clad women in public places. It’s a different situation. The models in SI are tacitly inviting your eyes. Women at the pool are minding their own business. Sure: glance, notice. But don’t be a freaking creep.

This is important to me, because I want a world where respecting women and finding them hot are not presumed to be mutually exclusive. And I never want a woman to regret wearing a bikini.

There was a Tumblr blog, now sadly gone, called Fuck Yeah Swimsuit Models. It featured an SI photo per day, sometimes with commentary. I noticed some of the photos were tagged “classic.” I assumed this referred to photos from a certain bygone golden era of the magazine, or possibly to photos the person running the blog particularly liked.

But then I noticed the blog included a definition of the term “classic.” Thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I can share this definition with you:

Classic, as a tag on this blog, refers to a very specific kind of shot: the model is wearing (all of) a real bikini, on a sunny beach. It’s just the original, simple premise of the swimsuit issue itself, no gimmicks or partially-disrobed women. Another way to look at it: classic shots are straightforward enough that they could actually be used by a viewer to judge the swimsuit itself. (As if anyone would ever try to do that.)

Tori Praver, would you demonstrate?

NOT CLASSIC: Missing a top.

NOT CLASSIC: Missing a bottom.

NOT CLASSIC: Missing a beach.

NOT CLASSIC: The suit is a lie.


There you have it. The swimsuit, as it appears in the wild.


Anonymous said...

That was me, I ran Fuck Yeah Swimsuit Models, and that was my definition. I can't believe it's in the Wayback Machine, that's hilarious (and a little scary). Glad you liked it, though. :-)

I like your point about swimsuits vs. underwear, that's interesting. It really is an odd differentiation in what's socially acceptable. But yeah, that idea of "this is what I intend to be seen in at a crowded beach or pool", vs. "this is what's underneath, and not to be seen except in an intimate setting".

Anyway, I gather that you're moving on from this particular blogging niche, as I did. Cheers & best of luck.

Swimsuitologist said...

Thanks a lot! Yeah, that "classic" nature is important to hang on to in the midst of all the gimmickry. I'm glad someone else agrees.

Thanks for the note.