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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Happy 60th Birthday Bikini!

    Posted on Sun, Jul. 02, 2006

    [size=18px]HAPPY BIRTHDAY![/size]

    Little piece of fabric that shocked the world

    By Margo Millure
    For The Sun News


    When the Grand Strand's teen and 20-somethings hit the beach this summer, they'll be wearing bikinis not so different from ones their grandmothers used to wear.

    Theoretically could have worn, anyway.

    The bikini, defined as a two-piece bathing suit that dips below the navel, may be turning 60, but is nowhere near ready for retirement. In fact, the fashion icon was a late bloomer. On many family-oriented U.S. beaches, it didn't gain its top-drawer wardrobe status until decades after its debut in post World War II France.

    Louis Reard, a car designer by trade and son of a lingerie shop owner, had observed that women, thrilled to be allowed to go back to the beach in the two years after liberation from Nazi Occupation, were experiencing a second liberation, rolling and hiking up their swimsuits for maximum sun exposure along the beaches of St. Tropez. He unveiled the first bikini on July 5, 1946, on the dazzling form of a Parisian dancer, the only model he could find willing to wear the garment made from 30 square inches of fabric.

    Initially, the bikini was dismissed as a failure. Women outside of France were no where near ready to don the scandalous design. Spain, Portugal and Italy banned the suit. In the conservative-minded U.S., Vogue in 1954 was still promoting swimsuits with small jackets, so women "could look more dressed, than undressed."

    "And God Created Woman," featuring Brigitte Bardot in a scant bikini, was released in the U.S. in 1958, bringing the suit to the attention of the American masses. Then in 1960, Cosmopolitan ran an article proclaiming: "Bikinis are Here!"

    Epitomizing the ambiguity surrounding the bikini, Annette Funicello with her quintessential "good girl" image, was not allowed by Walt Disney to wear a bikini alongside her cast mates in the first six installments of the Beach Party movie series of the early '60s. When Disney allowed his protegee to bare her navel in the last installment, "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini," in 1965, he was in effect giving permission to teenage girls everywhere to wear one, too.

    But just because something was going on in California didn't mean it was happening on the Grand Strand.

    "It must have been around 1960, and I remember being on the beach with my mom, and her discretely pointing to a woman and whispering, 'That's a bikini,' in a way that really stuck in my memory," said Beth Ervin, a lifelong resident of Myrtle Beach.

    Along Grand Strand beaches in the 1960s, it was not unusual to see children wearing belly button-baring two-piece suits. George Mims, a Myrtle Beach resident who was a lifeguard on Myrtle Beach's north end through 1967, recalls, however, that few teenage and older females wore bikinis.

    "It was a rarity," he said.

    Throughout the 1960s, newspapers such as The Charlotte Observer and the Winston Salem Journal would contact area photographer and historian, Jack Thompson, in search of photographs of bikini-clad teenagers to show their readers what supposedly was going on along Myrtle Beach's shoreline. However, Thompson was under a directive by the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce to resist taking photos of this sort.

    "The mommas who were very influential on the Myrtle Beach chamber wanted to maintain Myrtle Beach's image as a moral and family-fun-oriented beach," Thompson said.

    Thompson would cleverly fulfill the requests from out-of-town newspapers by shooting a pretty girl wearing a bikini from behind, perhaps coyly looking over her shoulder. In another instance, he shot a model at sunset in silhouette, showing her curves, but not her navel.

    Thompson recalls local police officers notifying women wearing skimpy bikinis and even men wearing Speedos that these revealing styles were not allowed in Myrtle Beach.

    Eventually the magnitude of tourists, as well as the magnitude of radical cultural changes overpowered the local guard of decency. By the early 1970s, it became apparent that the bikini was here to stay.

    The first Miss Bikini Wahine pageant was held in conjunction with the Sun Fun Festival and Miss Sun Fun in 1972. Peggy Sansbury, a Myrtle Beach resident, won the Miss Marion title in the mid '70s. Her sponsor insisted she participate in Miss Bikini Wahine because of the visibility it would bring to Marion as a small town near the well-known Myrtle Beach.

    "My bikini was lime green and about two inches below my belly button and not high cut on the leg like they wear today," Sansbury said. "The girls I was placed between were wearing much more revealing styles and were much more voluptuous, which I thought was what the judges were looking for. I won and it was shocking. My mother took me and my father didn't come, because he said, 'You'll never win that one.'"

    Sansbury believes that she captured the Miss Bikini Wahine title with her more conservative suit was a reflection of the image Myrtle Beach was trying to hold on to.

    For girls who grew up in the '60s wearing bikinis, the most natural thing was to continue to do so, if they pleased, as they became teenagers in the '70s. These days, the bikini is the swimsuit style favored by young beachgoers, with area teens usually owning several.

    Mix-and-match tops and bottoms, cover-ups and accessories have played an important role as some women choose to wear bikinis beyond their 20s. The tankini, a higher-cut leg and other ways of strategically adding or subtracting fabric have made the style more accessible for women of various ages and body types.

    And what do the next 60 years hold for the world's smallest fashion icon? Don't go looking for the thong on area beaches anytime soon. They are illegal. Yes, much to the relief of many area residents and tourists of the Grand Strand's family-friendly beaches, the fabric frontier seems to be holding.

    Contact freelance writer MARGO MILLURE at [email protected] or 445-7244.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    Brigitte Bardot sporting a bikini


    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
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    Re: Happy 60th Birthday Bikini!

    Happy 60th teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini

  3. #3
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    Re: Happy 60th Birthday Bikini!

    Happy bikini time


  4. #4
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    Re: Happy 60th Birthday Bikini!


  5. #5
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    Re: Happy 60th Birthday Bikini!

    I can see this thread is going to eventually wind up in the "Two Beers Minimum" thread before the day is out.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  6. #6
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    Re: Happy 60th Birthday Bikini!

    "singersp" wrote:
    I can see this thread is going to eventually wind up in the "Two Beers Minimum" thread before the day is out.
    I would have to say way before the day is over. cajun hasn't seen it yet.

  7. #7
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    Re: Happy 60th Birthday Bikini!

    What??? Thongs are illegal??? Say it ain't so, Sisqo!!!
    BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE

  8. #8
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    Re: Happy 60th Birthday Bikini!

    Very nice "read".

  9. #9
    Prophet Guest

    Re: Happy 60th Birthday Bikini!

    Nice invention.


  10. #10
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    Re: Happy 60th Birthday Bikini!




    Happy Birthday Bikini!

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