TOB Tues: Should Women Wear Bikinis?

ChelseaModesty, Women5 Comments

modesty.pngThis is something I’m slowly coming around on. Not that I have ever strongly believed that women should wear bikinis or that it doesn’t matter if they do, it’s just not something I’ve really thought a whole lot about and developed a strong opinion on one way or another.

Bikinis are just the normal, socially acceptable kind of bathing attire that girls wear. Go into any popular women’s clothing store right now and you’ll see that’s what 99% of their stock of bathing suits for us consist of. I always wore bikinis in high school and I know several good Christian women who wear them today.

But, the arguments against them, when you finally sit down to think about it, really do just make sense. Specifically, that most women would never consider going out of the house in their underwear, so why do the rules change when it’s a “bathing suit” that is just as revealing, if not more so?

And then there’s this. Jason Evert explains the findings of a 2009 Princeton University study of the male brain when showed images of bikini-clad women:

When the young men viewed the scantily clad women, the part of their brain associated with tool use lit up. Even though some of the images were shown for as little as two-tenths of a second, the most easily remembered photographs were of bikini-clad women whose heads were cropped off the photos!

The purpose of the research, according to Susan Fiske, a professor of psychology at Princeton University, was to examine ways in which people view others as a means to an end. The findings of the research were presented during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held in Chicago.

Researchers also discovered that when some of the men viewed scantily clad females, the men’s medial pre-frontal cortex was deactivated. This is the region of the brain associated with analyzing a person’s thoughts, intentions, and feelings. Fiske remarked, “It is as if they are reacting to these women as if they are not fully human.” She added, “It is a preliminary study but it is consistent with the idea that they are responding to these photographs as if they were responding to objects rather than people.”

Read more.

Some will say this isn’t our problem. But we have a duty, not just to protect our own dignity, but also to at least try not make the already difficult task of chastity even more difficult for our brothers in Christ.

Turns out, I’m not the only one thinking about this at the moment. Last week, “Bright Maidens” blogger, Elizabeth Hillgrove, one of my fellow contributors over at Ignitum Today, had a two part “Bikini or Bikini-No?” discussion over at her blog Startling the Day. See: Part I and Part II.

Also related: over at Catholic Lane we published a piece on Four Reasons to Keep Bikini Pictures Off Facebook.

Ladies, what do you think about all of this? Do you wear bikinis? If not, do you go for regular one piece or something like this?

5 Comments on “TOB Tues: Should Women Wear Bikinis?”

  1. Wohoo! Love this topic!

    As a young 20s single woman, I totally oppose bikinis! (Not judging anyone who wears one, but hoping you’ll hear me out.) Allow me to flagrantly cut/paste my comment from another blog…

    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. (It might be comical and illuminating to design a bikini that added some other “patches”… in addition to covering the essentials, a patch for your left elbow, and your right shin, and the back of your neck? This would probably make the sexuality of it all less blatant…) So I’m a big proponent of covering midsections… I think it makes us look more like unified, dignified 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!”

  2. My thoughts:

    1.) As a guy, I consider myself rather modest, from head to toe. I often wear shorts, but I pretty much always have shoes on, even when I’m alone. And I wear a shirt, even in a pool. It’s not part of a movement; I just feel naked when I don’t have all three components on. So I either have all three or else I really AM naked (shower time, et al); there’s not much in between.

    2.) People, overall, should wear what they feel comfortable wearing. For some, that will be something on the modest end of the spectrum; others are more comfortable with less fabric. And, of course, there are some parts of the Western world where entire families go to the beach or the lake wearing no more than they were born with. That doesn’t mean that anything sexual is going on or implied; they’re doing what everybody else does at the beach. They’re wading in the surf, they’re playing frisbee, they’re sitting on a blanket, talking, they’re sleeping, or they’re reading books. They’re just not wearing bathing suits at the time. But nudity isn’t the same as sex.

    3. Whatever is good for the goose is good for the gander. If we ARE going to tell some young women that they need to be covered pretty much from shoulder to below the knee, then young men should be wearing a similar get-up. It isn’t as though women aren’t affected by the sight of an attractive man’s body. I’ve seen it. (Just not about me. Heh.)

  3. Sorry for the long post Chelsea, but it seemed appropriate. I sent this to Elizabeth in response to her bikini series. Hope the move is going well.

    I have come to your post to your post simply because I
    follow Stacy Trasancos, whom I offer as a character

    I make no habit of frequenting women’s sites, or bikini posts, however, for what it is worth, I have a beautiful
    wife and three lovely adult daughters, all young mothers, so needless to say I have engaged in this debate for many years. My wife, at 56, is a size 6 and frankly would still look great in a bikini. She is a water athlete who loves the ocean, so be advised her decision to avoid bikinis and has nothing to do with being bashful about her figure.

    The first question I would ask is, is there any functional advantage to wearing a bikini for normal swimming activities? Can’t answer that, never wore one, but based on swimwear for competitive water events the answer is basically inarguable. The second question I would ask is whether any truly Christian woman believes that she has no culpability for provoking lustful thoughts in a man, or if perhaps she may believe more skin does not equal more potential for provoking the very transparent and predictable (in this area) male mind.

    The third question, I am prepared to provide an answer for,and that is, why are men so visual in this area. It seems completely unfair that God would create us with this inherent flaw. Well, I’ve thought a lot about it and prayed a lot about it and here, based on scripture, is what I have come up with.

    Read Genesis 2:18 – 2:25. God made man in His image and
    likeness. After creating all of the other creatures, He could not find a suitable partner for man so He made woman, from and for man. And therein lies the difference. Everything about a woman’s body has been tailor made by Almighty God SPECIFICALLY to those specifications that the Father knew would please man. A woman’s hair, her eyes, the shape of her face and body, her voice, the way she moves, the way she thinks and reasons, all of these things have been created to please man.

    Consequently, a woman’s body to a man is more than just
    attractive, it is literally awesome. Like a beautiful sunset or a majestic mountain, woman is God’s gift to man. Now, naturally, this inclination, like all other aspects of human nature has been wounded by original sin. Remember, lust, like every other capital vice is the product of a distorted amplification of things that
    come naturally to us. God created woman to please man. In return, He intends us to be faithful and loving to the extent that we are to be willing to die for our wives.

    Satan, as he always does, has ingeniously twisted the phrase, “to please man” into “for man’s pleasure”. Radically different concepts. Man’s natural preoccupation with the fairer sex is his great Achilles’ heel for both Satan AND woman to exploit. Unfortunately society has degenerated to the point where, frankly,
    most men are lustful.

    So let’s cut to the chase here, Elizabeth. A woman’s body is a loaded gun for a lustful man and she can slay
    most with it any time she wants. ALL women know and understand this. God gave your gender that power over ours to make us better men, not animals. It is a power that you should wield prudently as a Godly woman.

    Finally, I speak as a man. The mystery of an attractive, fit, woman in a stylish one piece is MUCH more alluring (not lust provoking)than blatant advertising, because a bikini isn’t about what a woman looks like, its about what she THINKS like. A little restraint says to a
    prospective suitor, “Yep, I’m all that you think I am, fit, healthy, desirable, but unless you are that lucky man that will share life with me, “til death do us part”…you don’t get to find out.


    Val Bianco ( Happily married man saved by the Blood of Christ, 56 year old father of 10 grandfather of 7 and genuine respectful admirer of the feminine mystique)

    PS: If you really want to know what I think of women, read Stacy’s Mother’s Day piece, “We Know”

  4. …oh, Val. Gee whiz.

    “The second question I would ask is whether any truly Christian woman believes that she has no culpability for provoking lustful thoughts in a man, or if perhaps she may believe more skin does not equal more potential for provoking the very transparent and predictable (in this area) male mind.”

    Val, I certainly hope that you NEVER walk around at the beach, pool, or yard with your shirt off, or display your midsection in any way, because if you EVER do you are culpable for provoking lustful thoughts in a woman.

    If you believe women are somehow not the visual creatures you think men are, you are engaging in self-delusion.

    I really wish you would desist in lumping every straight male on the planet together. If you find yourself greatly tempted when you see a young woman in a bikini, well, all right, but please don’t suggest that everyone does the same. I also wish you and everyone who espouses your viewpoint would just let it stand and not bring God into it. Claiming that this is just “how God made us” is, essentially, drawing a line in the sand and daring anyone to continue disagreeing with you, as you will then accuse him or her of “attacking your faith.”

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