A brief history of the bikini.

Previously published Slate articles made new.
July 3 2007 6:28 PM

The Right To Bare Tummies

A brief history of the bikini.

Independence Day is a time to celebrate the freedoms Americans hold dear, including, of course, the right to expose large amounts of flesh from sea to shining sea. With that in mind, we offer up a two-piece celebration of the two-piece: Last year, on the swimsuit's 60th birthday, Julia Turner chronicled the rise of the bikini in America. That slide show, "A Brief History of the Bikini," is reprinted below. For a Magnum photo gallery of the bikini, click here.

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Julia Turner Julia Turner

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.

Sixty years ago this week, the world's first bikini made its debut at a poolside fashion show in Paris. The swimsuit is now so ubiquitous—and, when compared with, say, the sight of Britney's pregnant, naked haunches on the cover of Bazaar, so demure—it's hard to comprehend how shocking people once found it. When the bikini first arrived, its revealing cut scandalized even the French fashion models who were supposed to wear it; they refused, and the original designer had to enlist a stripper instead. Click here to read a slide show that explains how the bikini slowly gained acceptance—first on the Riviera, then in the United States—and became a beachfront staple.

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