(This post was originally published in July 2013)
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. Even then, sea bathing was considered scandalous. In the daring 1920's and '30's women's swimwear began to get smaller and tighter. These styles 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:
Blessed Jacinta of Fatima said, "Those who love God do not follow fashions...the Church has no fashions...God is always the same."
So I will leave you with a question
Does a true Catholic lady swim?