Did You Know? ... The Explosive History of the Bikini

When you think of the summer, you often think of the beach.  With thoughts of the beach, surely come thoughts of bikinis (or swimsuits of any variety).  I got curious and did a little research on the bikini.  I wanted to know when it first made its appearance, what the reception was to it, what it looked like.

I was really surprised by what I found!

The first bikini made its appearance in documented history in the Villa Romana de Casalle circa the first quarter of the 4th century AD.



Wow.  My jaw dropped.  I thought there had been some hoo-ah about the bikini and it hadn't come about until the 1900's.

But wait....

© Bettmann/CORBIS

Flash forward to 1913.  Carl Janzen introduces the first two piece swimsuit- a modified t shirt and shorts.  It causes huge up stirring and uproars.

How did we get from mosaics of girls frolicking around in bikinis in the 4th century to a t shirt and shorts causing and uprising in 1913?

I asked my husband- our resident historian- who explains that it more than likely started as a climate necessity- a woman in Germany or England would more than likely be bundled up due to the cold.  Since America was founded by Europeans, who were also Puritans, the same puritanical beliefs were in tow.  Thus, our spring to bikinis was more of a cultural and religious revolution, and only occurred after we were in a climate where it was acceptable.

Makes sense.  I get it now.  So now we can move on to modern day takes on the bikini:

Photo: Getty Images

In 1946, Jacques Heim came out with the smallest swimsuit to date- and short on the heels of WW2 calls it "the atome".   Whether the name is a remark upon the win in the recent war or a literal interpretation of it being as small as an atom is open to the viewer.

Photo: Getty Images

The following year, not to be outdone, Louis Reard creates an even smaller suit, giving it a name after Bikini Atoll, the site of the first test of the nuclear bomb.

Since then, bikinis have gotten smaller and smaller...  and leaves one wondering, will there be a point where nudity is acceptable again?