Why is a Bikini Called a Bikini?

Published: 29th May 2010
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This week in Australia we are celebrating the birth of all those little, itsy, bitsy, pieces of swimsuits called a bikini. If you have ever thought it a strange name for such a flimsy bit of wishful thinking, you may be interested in knowing where and how it originated.

The Australian lifestyle has always been about the great outdoors, sun, surf, sand, swimming and anything remotely sporty. When it came to designing clothes to suit the Australian lifestyle, designing a suitably attractive swimsuit was top of the agenda.

Prior to 1952, Australia had every kind of neck-to-knee cover all and it had nothing to do with sun protection. So in 1952 when a fashion designer by the name of Laura Stafford designed the first bikini swimsuit for her fashion parade at the Sands Resort on Queensland's Gold Coast, it caused a massive eruption of public opinion, personal appreciation and furore such as that currently being generated from the Nuclear testing being carried out on the Pikinni Atoll in the Marshall Islands by the United States.

Piki meant "surface" and "ini" meant coconut to the indigenous Marshall Islanders but it has always been pronounced Bikini and is a very small island located in the Marshall Island group of the south pacific.

In 1952, the US was still carrying out their Nuclear testing and making huge waves around the world from a little bit of an Island, so Laura Stafford thought it to be the most appropriate name for her newly designed little bit of a swimsuit. She thought the moral outcry would be nearly as great as the noise from the nuclear blast and even to this day, the moral outcry is still often heard.

Today's bikini is much, much briefer than it was originally. When the bikini was first paraded onto a Gold Coast beach at Surfers Paradise in 1952, the beach inspectors removed the model off the beach for indecent exposure. So she came back again the next day with another six models all wearing Bikinis and this went on for days and days with more and more models, then the women in the general public started wearing bikinis, so they were slowly, slowly accepted. I think the beach inspectors probably got tired of asking women to remove themselves off the beach for indecent exposure and being howled down by the appreciative menfolk.

I think what finally gave the seal of approval to the Bikini was the Gold Coast City Council when they installed "Meter Maids" all dressed in scanty bikinis' and going around town putting coins into expired parking meters. It became the "in-thing" for males to have their photo taken with a gorgeous meter maid and no woman could say she had been holidaying at the Gold Coast if she went home without buying a bikini.

So the bikini got its name from an adventurous and brave little woman fashion designer tired of wearing swimsuits designed by a man. She knew the bang it would make on society would be as big as the little Island undergoing nuclear testing in the South Pacific; but what she probably would not have known is that today it is a multi-billion dollar business.



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