Browsing articles tagged with " bikini"
Sep 4, 2016

This is not a bikini (2016)


On July 5, 1946, five days after the explosion of a nuclear bomb on Bikini Atoll, French automobile engineer and clothes designer Louis Reard unveiled the first bikini bathing suit to the world. It was daring and shocking. Reard’s inspiration was the nuclear blast on the tiny Pacific Ocean atoll of the same name. The French newspaper Le Monde said that the word ‘bikini’ was as lashing as the atomic explosion, that it had annihilated clothing as we knew it, and brought forward an extreme minimization of modesty. Some called it ‘the first a(na)tomic bathing suit in the world’ (… la première bombe an-atomique).

But the bikini is not a modern idea; the Greeks and the Romans had it all figured out. In 1959, the Italian archaeologist, Gino Vinicio Gentili, excavated the ‘bikini girls mosaic’ at the Villa Romana del Casale. This artwork entitled Coronation of the Winner shows young women in two-piece suits performing various sports. Perhaps the discovery of the bikini girls mosaic paved the road for even more daring inventions. In 1964 fashion designer Rudi Gernreich unveiled the monokini, the first topless swimsuit for women. Gernreich believed that the prefix “bi” as in bikini meant two. He was wrong. Similarly to the famous butterfly’s wings in Brazil, this mistake started to create a series of storms across the globe. All kinds of swimsuits were invented based on the same assumption: microkini, tankini, trikini and now the famous burkini.

According to the Wikitionary, kini means many things. It is an alcoholic beverage in Hawaïan, a woman in To’abaita, the adverb now in Malay, to nip in Maori and KINI is a radio station in Nebraska. Unfortunately, kini has nothing to do with the lower part of a two-piece swimsuit. By naming the Islamic inspired swimsuit burkini, Aheda Zanetti, the fashion designer who created the garment, only perpetuated the misconception. There is nothing ‘kini’ about the burkini. In fact, the burkini is similar to the 1800’s bathing gowns that embodied Victorian ideals of religious morality and prudery. The problem with the construction of this word is that when we talk about the burkini, we invoke the bikini. In our minds, we allude to revealing the body of the swimmer, while in fact the burkini is covering that same body. It is an oxymoron like ‘sweet agony’ or ‘true myth’. If the bikini was born out of an explosion, the burkini is closer to an implosion. The bikini fashion started with a bang while the burkini is threatening to close the trend with a whimper.

Nevertheless, the dress code war that is being waged in France is not new. What is sanctioned and what is forbidden to wear on a beach is part of a long-time struggle to break away from the iron collar of modesty. In 1921, Louise Rosine, a writer from California, was arrested in Atlantic City for rolling down her stockings and showing her bare knees on a public beach. She fought back saying that it was ‘none of Atlantic City’s business to roll them up or down’ and she threatened to bring the City to court. Before that, in 1907, the Waverly Shire Council in Sydney, Australia required the wearing of a skirt-like tunic by male bathers. Mayor, R. G. Watkins said:

After contact with water… the V-trunks favoured by many of the male bathers show up the figure… in a very much worse manner than if they were nude… people who patronize them should not be compelled to overlook bathers whom they do not agree with.

Soon after, the Sydney bathing costume protests erupted. Thousands of male surf bathing enthusiasts wearing women’s clothing made a point to show the ridiculousness of the proposed regulations.

What we should have learned by now is that people should be permitted to decide for themselves. If people want to wear bikinis, let them wear bikinis, if they want to go to the beach in long swimming gowns, let them do so. We know that “those who look directly at [a nuclear] blast could experience eye damage ranging from temporary blindness to severe burns on the retina.” The problem here is that explosion and implosion are two different ways to detonate nuclear weapons. The advice is not to look at the blast, but in the battle royal between fashion police and morality squads, we have decided to stare.

Daniel H. Dugas
3 September 2016



• Le Monde, 1947,  ‘Bikini, ce mot cinglant comme l’explosion même … correspondant au niveau du vêtement de plage à un anéantissement de la surface vêtue; à une minimisation extrême de la pudeur.’
• For an informative write-up about the transformation of swimsuit through the ages see The Evolution Of The Bathing Suit From The 1800s Until Today
• Bikini Girls mosaic: Villa Romana del Casale
KINI 96.1 FM is a radio station broadcasting a Variety music format.
• Louise Rosine: Keep her knees bare in Atlantic City jail, The New York Times, September 4, 1921.
• For Mayor R. G. Watkins’ comments see ‘Tourism and Australian Beach Cultures: Revealing Bodies‘, Christine Metusela, Gordon Waitt, Channel View Publications, Toronto, 2012, p. 32.
• Sydney bathing costume protests: Fun on the Beaches, The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 23 Oct 1907
• Bathing Machine: Sea-Side Etiquette, Victoriana Magazine
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Radiation
• TOP IMAGE : The Delineator magazine

Daniel H. Dugas

Artiste numérique, poète et musicien, Daniel H. Dugas a participé à des expositions individuelles et de groupe ainsi qu’à plusieurs festivals et événements de poésie en Amérique du Nord, en Europe, au Mexique et en Australie. Son treizième recueil de poésie « émoji, etc. » / « emoji, etc. » vient de paraître aux Éditions Basic Bruegel.

Daniel H. Dugas is a poet, musician, and videographer. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions as well as festivals and literary events in North America, Europe, Mexico, and Australia. His thirteenth book of poetry, 'émoji, etc.' / 'emoji, etc.' has been published by the Éditions Basic Bruegel Editions.

Date : Mars / March 2022
Genre : Poésie / Poetry
Français / English

émoji, etc. / emoji, etc.

Date: Mai / May 2022
Genre: Vidéopoésie/Videopoetry