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Some of you will be aware of my feelings about bikinis from a previous lip blog. I wanted to share this quote from Susan Brownmiller, from her book on femininity, the chapter about bodies and fashion. Having described the history of the corset and girdle, and making the point that it is only recently that women had to diet for their bodies – corsets used to achieve a similar effect – she writes: ‘In the 1950s the bathing beauty who hoped to get a Hollywood contract displayed her pulchritude at 35-25-35 …but her breasts could hit the tape to male applause at forty inches or more… For street wear she usually wore a waist-cincher to nip in her middle. However, within a decade the typical starlet with the busty chest and the wiggly rear had become a fashion liability, too much of a muchness, even for the beach. She didn’t look good in a bikini – there was too much overhang in all directions – and that was the start of her downfall. Of all the fashion changes that revolutionized the female body in the 1960s, the French bikini deserves special credit, for when this import hit the American shoreline the reverberations were shocking. …the bikini was considered wildly daring in the Fifties. A decade later it had become the bathing suit of choice. Although European women of all shapes and sizes felt free to sun themselves in the tiny, unstructured bandannas, a Puritanical American sensibility viewed the body inside the bikini with a more critical eye.’

               Rachel F

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