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  • I actually remember the first time I wore a two-piece bathing suit.

  • And I remember sitting on the edge of the pool and just crouching over and trying to pull the top down because I wanted the two pieces to connect.

  • The bikini is a fashion icon.

  • Let's be honest, people like to look at people in bikinis.

  • But the skimpy nature of the bikini doesn't quite explain all of its popularity.

  • So how did the smallest suit in the world become the biggest one?

  • It's pretty crazy that the bikini is the most popular swimsuit on earth, given how restricted women's clothing has been throughout history.

  • Up until the 1900s, people in Europe and North America used this really weird contraption called a "Bathing Machine"-- a wooden box on wheels, like a mobile changing room.

  • Women would sit in the box, which was then pulled down to the ocean by a horse.

  • This was meant to keep women hidden away from the eyes of men.

  • A lot of places had strict laws about minimum swimsuit length.

  • Police would even walk around with rulers and straight up measure your bathing suit.

  • That is so gross.

  • Public opinion on the matter didn't really change until Annette Kellerman, a swimmer and silent film star, was arrested for wearing a more form-fitting suit in 1907.

  • Kellerman's high-profile arrest caused people to re-think the frumpy suits in favor of a tighter, more aerodynamic approach.

  • It's good to note, more revealing two-pieces had already existed for hundreds of years.

  • These mosaics from the Villa del Casale in Sicily feature women in bikini-like outfits as early as the fourth century.

  • So when did the skimpy swimsuit finally resurface?

  • Fast forward to 1946.

  • The United States has been testing nuclear weapons in a place called Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

  • A French engineer by the name of Louis Reard decided he wanted to make a similar sized explosion in the world of fashion.

  • Reard had created what he called the smallest bathing suit in the world.

  • Basically just two triangle pieces of fabric held together by some string.

  • There's only one problem.

  • The suit was so small, that none of the models in Paris would wear it.

  • Reard had to enlist the help of a burlesque dancer from a nearby casino, Micheline Bernardini, to unveil the bikini at the Piscine Molitor pool in Paris.

  • The suit got a big reaction.

  • The Vatican declared it sinful.

  • Spain and Italy banned it immediately, and Bernardini started getting lots of fan mail.

  • By 1950, the bikini was a permanent fixture on European beaches, and by 1960 it caught on in North America.

  • And now, it's one of the most iconic pieces of clothing ever.

  • At the end of the day, you don't have to wear a bikini, but it is pretty nice having the option.

  • What's your experience with a bikini?

  • You can tell me in the comments below, or on social media with the hashtag #WEWEARCULTURE.

  • Thank you so much for watching.

  • If you enjoyed learning about that as much as I did, head on over to Google Arts and Culture here, and make sure to check out the rest of the videos by clicking over here.

I actually remember the first time I wore a two-piece bathing suit.

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B1 US bikini suit bathing swimsuit bathing suit north america

The history of the bikini with Ingrid Nilsen

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    Annie Chien posted on 2020/06/15
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