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What is the purpose of a swimsuit?

I don’t mean the kind one would wear when going in the water in extreme conditions. I mean a regular swimsuit that one would wear at the beach while on vacation or relaxing from a hard day’s work.

Unless you’re a big fan of tan lines, the only purpose of such a swimsuit is to hide your naked body. And even if you are a fan of tan lines, there are far more interesting tan lines you could get if you created a shape out of some material which blocks sunlight and stuck it to your skin.

In any case, this makes a swimsuit pretty much an insult to man’s ingenuity, i.e. a thing created solely for the purpose of perpetuating the irrational fear of nudity.

That the fear predates the swimsuit is common knowledge. In fact, there was no swimsuit per se in 1860s when a ban on nude swimming was first introduced in the UK. Nude swimming was the norm by then. While there was some resistance to the ban, it was doomed to fail, I believe, due to the prevalence of Christian values which seemed to include and even popularize shame of one’s own body.

From the ban onwards begins a history of the seemingly endless war on the shape and form of the human body, particularly that of a woman. In fact, Annette Kellerman was arrested in 1907 (some 4 decades after the first ban) because she was wearing a swimsuit which “revealed” too much of her body shape, even though it covered everything from her shoulders to about the first quarter of her thighs, excluding arms.

It seems, however, that the swimsuits are shrinking. As far as I’m concerned, they should be infinitely smaller than they are today – in other words, they shouldn’t even have to exist. Other than perpetuating the fear of nudity, they suggest at some level that the human body is ugly, or evil, or both, which in reality it is neither. It also caters to the whims and fears of those who feel insulted at the sight of a naked human. They choose to be insulted and demand to see shamed those who refuse to make that choice. The rights of these people who they demand shamed come second, in their view, to their demand that such people “decorate” their bodies with the rags they themselves proscribe as a cure for their own offense.

As I live in a country which strives to survive mostly on tourists, I can’t help but hear – every single season – about how someone of the locals, or some self-proclaimed puritan tourist, was disgusted by the sight of a person wearing a bikini this big or that small, or wearing a swimsuit somewhere off the beach. The “no swimsuit” signs are popping up all over the country and the scale of the anti-bikini hysteria is aptly described by the fact that whoever put up those signs, forgot to also put up signs banning nudity in those same areas.

I personally am guilty of owning two swimming trunks. I would own just one pair, but I neglected to take it when I went on a vacation with my wife. She is not yet comfortable being naked around other people and being around other naked people, so she bought me another pair so we could go to that other kind of beach where people seem to like tan lines, especially in their pelvic area. The other pair I got for the purpose of being allowed at the swimming pools.

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