Friday, July 19, 2013

On Suimwear

Swimming and what to wear is a subject of great controversy in many different circles.  Some women say that bikinis are perfectly modest.  Others criticize the bikini in defense of a "modest" one piece swimsuit.  Others argue that shorts or a tiny skirt cover-up make it decent enough.  And still others wear "modest" swimwear that includes knee length pants, skirt, and short sleeved top.  Of course there are ladies who do not swim at all and walk the beach in an ankle length dress instead...

So obviously there are many standards for women's swimwear.

Where did these standards come from?

In the first public "baths" of England there were laws enforcing women to wear a full costume consisting of long skirt and bodice and puffy sleeves.  As public bathing progressed into the early 1900's women used bathing machines to enter the ocean and still wore bloomers, stockings and a knee length dress with sleeves to swim.  In the 1920's and '30's women's swimwear began to get smaller and tighter.  This style continued throughout the '50s and it was not until the 1960's and '70's that the bikini entered the picture.

The bikini made its debut in France in 1945.  It was so scandalous that regular models would not wear it and prostitutes were hired.  Newspapers said that the bikini was, "Liberation from oppressive Christian morals."  Modern Girl Magazine in 1957 said, "It is hardly necessary to waste words over the so-called bikini since it is inconceivable that any girl with tact and decency would ever wear such a thing."  It was banned in Catholic countries such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy and also in many American states.  The National League of Decency, a Catholic organization, tried very hard to prevent the bikini from reaching Hollywood.

Today the bikini is commonplace.

Some argue this is the inevitable progress of society.

But what drives this "progress"- or, more appropriately termed, Revolution- of bathing suits?  Perhaps a close look would reveal that it was no accident.  The slow undressing of women was not a liberation as some like to think.

Where will it end other than in fully accepted public nudity?  If this is liberation, it is only from morality and higher ideals.  It is so easy to see the gradual slipping of standards.  To reverse the process is impossible without grace.  That is why it is necessary to be Catholic as well as to be a lady.

Wearing a swimsuit that fits some place along the line is not going to change this Revolution.

(Read my post on The Revolution of Fashion here:

So I will leave you with a question

Does a true Catholic lady swim?


  1. What a question Colette. Unfortunately I do not have the answer but I believe "Catholic All Year" made an interesting comment about modesty and what it entails. She mentioned that modesty is about time and place. Her example mentioned a woman wearing a ballgown to the pool/beach. Although her outfit covers her more than all of the other ladies swimsuits, it is not a appropriate out and she is making a spectacle of herself, therefore not truly portraying modesty/humility.

    I personally LOVE to swim, and was a competitive swimmer all through out high-school and my first year in college. It was an all girls swim team, so I felt more comfortable in my swim suit and realized it wasn't for fashion, but sport. One thing I did dislike is that when our team ordered suits we were forced to order a suit two sizes smaller than our real size because it"held everything together" therefore making us faster in the water. In all reality every single girl hated it because it didn't hold everything together, rather made us spill out from every inch of the suit. Once we even had to cut a girl out after her even so she could breathe. Definitely not modest, nor lady like.

    Aside from sport, I love to be by the water swimming. I think being modest and lady like is crucial. The perfect mix for me is... a one piece suit, or a skirt/shirt mix. These are more modest than most, and still look womanly. It is commonly to easy to slip on a over sized mans t shirt and mans athletic shirts, thus covering up our

    I think a true Catholic lady DOES swim, but with decency.

  2. I don't think swimming itself is immodest. I mean, what if women were swimming ONLY in the presence of other women? As far as I'm concerned, they could all be totally nude, and it wouldn't be a modesty issue, right?

    What most people do these days at the beach anyways is really just wade, maybe bob around in the water for a bit. I could easily do that wearing one of the "old fashioned" full-body bathing suits. So I don't buy the argument people make about needing to be barely covered.

  3. I have been asking myself this question all summer, and the answer that I kept coming back to is no. At the beginning of summer I actually bought a swimsuit, thinking that a one piece suit is modest enough. Then I thought I would swim only in a private area with my family. But eventually I came to feel that I didn't want my children to see me in a swimsuit either. Why would I, when I dress according to the Mary-like standards of modesty every day? I like to be consistent.

    I never wore a swimsuit this summer, and I may never wear one. It is difficult to stand against things in this world that most people do not give a second thought about.

    And I cannot in all conscience bring my children to a beach or public pool because of what people are (not) wearing!

    I do think it is a good idea to know how to swim, and I would like to teach my children, but I'm not sure how to go about that.

  4. Dear Colette! And what about the sport? Women should not athletes?


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