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The Bikini: A Brief History

Today the Bikini is ubiqitous in modern fashion.

Thats not always been the case however, and a brief dive into the history of the Bikini reveals an interesting story.

Historically, the Bikini can be traced as far back as Ancient Rome where women wearing what appear to be two piece swimsuits are depicted in Roman Art.

Material scarcity after World War II is responsible for the modern Bikini which is usually dated to 1946 when material rationing led to the introduction of the modern Bikini by French Engineer Loius Reard who named his creation after the ‘Atomme’, the smallest particle known to man which at the time was being exploded in Atomic Bomb testing at Bikini Atoll Beach.

Following their introduction, there was a period of Social resistance which peaked in 1951 when Bikinis caused an uproar after Miss World was crowned in a Bikini.

This led to some conservative Countries threatening to pull out of the competition as the Church labelled Bikinis Sinful followed by a ban in some US States and European Countries like Spain and Italy.

This didnt spell the death of Bikini as it remained resilient eventually gaining popularity on the French Riviera in 1953. Its popularity soared during the 1960s sexual revolution as the Bikini came to symbolise the emancipation of Women.

Since then Bikinis have become a Pop Culture staple after making appearances in Film, TV and other Media such as Playboy Magazine.

The Miss World Pageant now also has a Bikini Category.

Whilst the Bikini has conquered the world, the story of the Island which gave the Bikini its name is not a happy one.

Between 1946 and 1954, a total of 23 Nuclear Tests were conducted on Bikini Atoll by the United States, devastating the Marshall Islands and its population.

To date the Island and its environment have not fully recovered from one what has been described as one of the worst cases of Nuclear Radiation Fallout in History.

So while the Bikini is here to stay, the story of the modern Bikini represents both Cultural progress and contradiction.

Check out the Documentary below on the Atomic Testing at Bikini Atoll and the effects of Nuclear fallout on the Island.