Monday, April 30, 2012

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 1

Two months ago, the #CathSorority girls got in a semi-heated discussion about beach attire.

Darn Twitter doesn't have it archived. #FirstWorldProblems

Hot, right? (Too much)
It started with me asking what #CathSorority thought about bikinis, one way or another.

I remember Trista erred on the side of modesty and I voiced that I didn't like the idea that pictures of me practically naked could end up on Facebook. A few others landed on the tankini/one-piece side of the aisle, suggesting that we should "help out" our brothers in Christ by not "showing everything you've got" (hat tip, Gramma).

Katie asked something akin to, "What is the difference between skin-tight fabric covering your stomach and just having your stomach exposed?" There were other girls who agreed with her and fell on the "wear a bikini if you want to" because it's not our responsibility to control what men think about us.

There were a lot of varied opinions When we arrived at a conversational crossroads, I sent out a bat call to @Marleyblakedog (aka @ckcathcart), @Palaminko, @nomoblues, and @CallAllWitness. I asked, "how much responsibility lies on women and how much lies on men when it comes to swimsuit (et al) modesty?"

For this first part, Palaminko (of The Apostasy Method) responded via email:

Hmm, tricky question.

If we're specifically talking bikinis, I would say it's a bad idea because--bikinis being cut the way they are, especially the last several years--women are pretty close to naked wearing them. There isn't much left to the imagination...and male imaginations will have no problem with the rest. A few guys will be fine and manage to still view the women in them as women, but why make the situation more difficult? I don't go swimsuit shopping with women on a regular basis, but I hear tell that there are some amazing (and still very feminine and modest) one-pieces available nowadays.

This guy knows a thing or two about double standards.
In general, here's what I overheard one girl say to another: if your grandmother (it used to be "mother", but I've since realized that quite a few moms from our parents' generation have very lax standards) would be scandalized seeing you in that outfit, chances are it's immodest. 
Put more philosophically, if the outfit draws attention to what physical parts a woman is made of--as opposed to who she is in totality--it's probably  immodest and the wearer bears some responsibility.

If, on the other hand, the outfit passes those modesty criteria, I would say any immodest thoughts are the sole responsibility of the viewer.

Hope that helps the conversation!

PS--Back when I was in competitive shape, I used to get catcalls while running around town without a shirt on hot days. Modesty works both ways. I'm now in the habit of covering up, though I still haven't figured out the beach thing. (emphasis added by me, Elizabeth)
Full disclosure: Because Katie's words kept circulating in my head, I have since bought a bikini top, but I will do my best to only wear it around people I trust and to avoid landing in photos while wearing it. I have yet to figure out how to do that.

What do YOU think?
Stay tuned for the next in this series where we hear from Chase.

23 comments:

Mandi @ Catholic Newlywed said...

I am very uncomfortable with bikinis. In fact, I am often uncomfortable around other women wearing them. I used to wear them but stopped a few years ago and went to only one pieces. I won't be wearing a bikini again for other reasons (stretch marks among them), but I'm perfectly fine with that and am actually happy to finally have an excuse to now wear a bikini as a young woman because I used to get a lot of questions and comments (some not so nice) about wearing a one-piece.

Paige said...

I wear bikinis and one-pieces. I do not wear string bikinis and always try to wear boy-cut bottoms when possible. Men can visualize you naked if you wear anything that clings to you remotely. There's a reason habits and burqas alike are shapeless. I blame this more on society and porn than anything else. At least the REAL brothers in Christ will attempt so stop visualizing you naked if they happen to start. Other men will just do it anyway.

Clarissa said...

This evidence was pretty compelling for me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtzIcz7MOkc

Catholic Cookie Jar said...

Very interesting, I am looking forward to hearing the second part! I think I kind of go back and forth on this one. I have recently felt like I should perhaps wear a one piece when I think of it in terms of my husband...I would not want him being tempted to have lustful thoughts towards other women in bikinis, so I would not want to in turn be the cause of that for another woman's husband.

Allie said...

I have been doing two pieces for ages. I always get the ones with boy cut bottoms (surprisingly, the best I've found were from Victoria's Secret). That all being said, after being around my younger brother in a bikini a few months ago, I'm looking for a one piece. It was the first time since he had really grown up, and it was just so awkward for me! I don't care if it didn't bother him or not.

Julie Robison said...

I feel uncomfortable with bikinis as well. (And that above link is GREAT!) My bigger problem is with the bottoms, though, more than the tops. I feel the most uncomfortable with how women wear skimpy bottoms in addition to skimpy tops. I happen to think the bottom region of a woman (under the belly button to, say, mid-thigh) is the most precious part to cover up because it is explicitly associated with virginity and our sex as women.

Bikini tops are more forgiving, and I think it is possible to find tasteful tops. I personally opt for and have two one-pieces. I used to have a tankini and bikini, and both made me uncomfortable to wear in public mostly because of the bottoms.

I'm looking forward to these discussions more! I worry girls try too much to flaunt their bodies instead of honoring them, which leads to men not honoring them as women first, physically beautiful second.

Elizabeth said...

That is a good link posted above. Jason Evert is a good speaker.

Julie, I agree. I completely agree with your first paragraph. I think that bathing suits with short skirts are most appropriate since that area is what is most important to be covered. The other big issue is cleavage, and not all tops plunge down in the front or are skimpy.
I don't see how a one-piece bathing suit is inherently modest, just because your stomach is covered. I don't think covering your stomach makes up for the fact that the bottom looks like underwear.
What I am trying to convey is that the general issue, I think, is determining which areas are higher priority to be covered (e.g. as stated above, the crotch area is more sexual than the stomach). Whether those areas are covered with a garment that is comprised of one or two pieces is secondary.

Elizabeth Hillgrove said...

Thanks for the discussion ladies! (I'm commenting, mainly so Elizabeth from The Spark and the Flame is distinguished from me-Elizabeth. :)

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth said...

Thanks Elizabeth (Hillgrove), that had occurred to me too. I am still new at blog posting, so I haven't figured out how to always make it say "Elizabeth @..." but still have the picture, like Mandi's up there. Sorry about that!

LJ said...

In terms of "what's the difference between showing your belly, and wearing spandex over your belly?", I would argue that a one-piece (or most tankinis) present the woman as a whole person. There's just something visual about one person, wearing one swimsuit, etc. Visually, bikinis from far away (especially from the back!) hardly look like they're present at all: at the beach it often looks like people are running around naked! Up close, with only certain parts covered, we ladies end up looking more like a collection of parts than like a person wearing clothing. So I'm a big proponent of covering midsections... I think it makes us look more like people, and less like a collection of daintily covered body-parts!

(I also overheard someone once [Jason Evert? I forget.] passionately imploring young women to cover their midsections. His plea really stuck with me. "Ladies, do you realize how HOLY your torsos are? Your wombs are veiled by your abdomens, and conceal the place where NEW SOULS are knit together inside of you by our loving God! Can you see how incredible that is!!! Guys stomachs... who cares! They have lint in their belly buttons, anyway! But a woman's body is so much more sacred in this respect... please, realize how special your midsections are! Veil them and help us to respect you and the amazing things that your bodies can do!"

LJ said...

(Oh, I'm a young, single lady by the way! If that matters! :) )

Anonymous said...

Some thoughts I had reading this and being around some basically naked girls over the course of time in a variety of situations.
Basically when a girl is in a swimsuit a guy has to dress you himself in his mind if he is trying to be chaste and is feeling the lacking of some kind of femininity in his life. It is difficult at this time to overlook the physical.
If he is completely attached to a particular girl, and isn't porn addicted, all other girls can be completely naked and it wouldn't be a problem for him at all.
I've also noticed when a girl strikes one as attractive she can be in burqa and still be seen as if she were inspiring lust (which she could be). If a guy hasn't seen a woman in a long while and is suffering temptations of the flesh no clothing is enough. There is the animal instinct that is in both men & women that is the thing that has to be beaten & trained. The spiritual side is helped by modesty but it is not any kind of cure for the bestial.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind bikinis were designed specifically for the inspiration of lust and/or accentuating the beauty of the female form (usually). Not for swimming. Notice that the more unpresentable parts are still covered or held up.

If you need a full body tan ,go all out. Why have white cheeks?
Don't pretend.

Elizabeth said...

LJ, Thank you for sharing the Jason Evert quotation. It is a pretty good point that had not completely occurred to me before about our bodies.

Anonymous said...

I don't wear a bikini and my rule is unless I'm on a sun-bed or swimming I put a dress over my swim suit I think they are appropriate for the purpose but immodest for walking around etc. I'm sorry but whatever feminists say I do think women have a responsibility to dress modestly.

Anonymous said...

I don't wear a bikini and my rule is unless I'm on a sun-bed or swimming I put a dress over my swim suit I think they are appropriate for the purpose but immodest for walking around etc. I'm sorry but whatever feminists say I do think women have a responsibility to dress modestly.

bikini swimwear said...

Cool!

Theresa said...

I am a freshman in high school and really struggled with this this summer. I have however made up my mind for good. I lost fifteen pounds before eighth grade year (not anorexic or anything just got into shape) and really like how flat my stomach is. My mother is strictly against bikinis but that wouldn't necessarily stop me. I ended up having a basic conversion this summer which I think every cradle catholic has. Anyways I asked my self why I wanted to wear them and my answer was "cause everyone else does". I decided if they displeased Jesus there was no reason I couldn't bear the mortification and wear a tankin

Theresa said...

I am a freshman in high school and really struggled with this this summer. I have however made up my mind for good. I lost fifteen pounds before eighth grade year (not anorexic or anything just got into shape) and really like how flat my stomach is. My mother is strictly against bikinis but that wouldn't necessarily stop me. I ended up having a basic conversion this summer which I think every cradle catholic has. Anyways I asked my self why I wanted to wear them and my answer was "cause everyone else does". I decided if they displeased Jesus there was no reason I couldn't bear the mortification and wear a tankin

Anonymous said...

This post is two years old but I just stumbled upon it. What gets me is if a woman was in a dressing room and someone walked in on her accidentally and she was only in a bra and her bikini shaped underwear she would scream and cover up. (I suppose most women would). But turn those same items into spandex, with splashy colors and make it waterproof and that same woman would gladly come out of the dressing room to show off her waterproof underwear oh I mean swimwear. Really boggles the mind.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to see that this is even a discussion now adays. My body is for my husbands eyes only. All those personal places...When i swim I wear a one piece with shorts and tee shirt. I feel safe swimming(not a lot of material floating around me )yet I feel modest as well. I guess each person should ask themselves"Why am I really wearing this paticular attire to swim in?" "Would I feel comfortable if Jesus was right there?and would I beable to pray with someone if the needed to wearing that attire?......"

Md. Manik Hossain said...

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