|This is a bikini|
(photo by Vincent Boiteau)
Noun. Mid-20th century.
[Bikini, an atoll in the Marshall Islands, where an atomic bomb test was carried out in 1946.]
A scanty two-piece beach garment worn by women and girls.
Oh don't be so cynical! I know you're thinking that I've only chosen to (scantily) cover bikini so that I can display photos of beautiful bikini-clad women, but that's not (entirely) true. With utmost integrity, I've chosen to write about bikini because it's a jolly interesting word with a jolly interesting history. So there.
For one thing, I had always been under the presumption that the word bikini was bi- something, formed as it is by two constituent parts, but no: it's actually named after the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, famous for its use as a test site for atomic bombs. Its "inventor" Louis Réard named it le bikini because he expected his salaciously saucy swimwear to cause a positively atomic sensation, as so it did on its release in 1946. In fact, the bikini was considered so scandalously scanty that Réard couldn't initially find any model willing to wear it. Micheline Benardini, a 19-year-old nude dancer in Paris, eventually obliged and it proved such a hit that she received over 50,000 fan letters.
|Micheline Bernardini: The girl that dared|
|Raquel Welch and her fur bikini sneer at Réard's "invention" of 1946|
In modern times, the bikini has spawned numerous varients, including the monokini, trikini, microkini, tankini and the mankini. Despite these, the basic premise has remained the same and the bikini remains resolutely popular. Having tirelessly trawled through hundreds of photos of bikini-clad women washing cars, playing volleyball, rolling about in the sand and dancing on bars, I can only conclude that part of the bikini's popularity (and endurance) is its utility: is any other garment so wonderfully versatile? Oh, and sunbathing. You do see it worn by women sunbathing too.
Right. That's it. That was hard work. All those pictures! Do I need one more? I think I do. Here's one more - just to be sure.
|No, it's not gratuitous. Another bikini picture was definitely needed to complete the post. Definitely. This one is by Jason Navarrete. It's rather good too.|
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