A brief history of the bikini. (PHOTOS)

Previously published Slate articles made new.
Aug. 12 2011 7:07 AM

A Brief History of the Bikini

How a tiny swimsuit took America by storm.

August, with its angry heat and intemperate humidity, forces even the most modest women to wear very little clothing. It's an especially salient ritual at beaches and pools, where females have shimmied into itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie bathing suits for 65 years. In 2006, Julia Turner set out to explain how we became so enamored with the itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie garment, taking a look at the history of the popular bathing suit. The original article and slide show are reprinted below.

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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 hauncheson 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.  View 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.

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