Sunday, October 16, 2016

A police officer issuing a woman a ticket for wearing a bikini on a beach at Rimini, Italy in 1957

The policeman in the photo is nattily attired and appears to have a slight smirk as he writes out a ticket for the woman standing before him awkwardly in her offending swimwear; perhaps he enjoys making her feel uncomfortable.

The photo dates from 1957. The woman is wearing a bikini on the beach at Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic coast. At the time, Italy prohibited the revealing bathing suit; it was too immodest to be worn in public.

French engineer Louis Réard introduced the modern bikini, modeled by Micheline Bernardini, on July 5, 1946, borrowing the name for his design from the Bikini Atoll, where post-war testing on the atomic bomb was happening. French women welcomed the design but the Catholic Church, some media, and a majority of the public initially thought the design was risqué or even scandalous. Contestants in the first Miss World beauty pageant wore them in 1951, but the bikini was then banned from the competition.

More revealing than a one-piece swimsuit, the bikini was slow to be adopted, and in many countries it was banned from beaches and public places. The Vatican declared it sinful. While still considered risqué, the bikini gradually became a part of popular culture when film stars—Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, Ursula Andress, and others—began wearing them on public beaches and in film.

The bikini design had become common in Western countries by the mid-1960s as beachwear, swimwear, and underwear. By the late 20th century it had also become common as sportswear, particularly in sports such as beach volleyball and bodybuilding. By the early 2000s, bikinis had become a US$811 million business annually, and boosted spin-off services such as bikini waxing and sun tanning.

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