Wait, did you really buy your one-piece swimsuit because you thought it was trendy? Or, like Jessica Rey, swimsuit designer (and former White Power Ranger), did you want to somehow raise your dignity by covering your midriff? That's right, Rey wants us all to wear a one-piece, for the sake of modesty. She's making a case for women to adopt a (supposedly) self-imposed modesty, an argument that has been resonating across the religious Internet and, more recently, in The Atlantic .
Rey refers to a Princeton study where straight men looked at pictures of fully clothed women and bikini-clad ladies. And, surprise, surprise, the men took the fully clothed women more seriously. Well, duh. Wouldn't you take a fully clothed man more seriously than one wearing swim trunks? "Wearing a bikini...shut[s] down a man's ability to see her as a person," argues Rey. Note: the photos were also headless, so, yeah, that wasn't helping these men. And even if these men do see bikini babes as tools, then they're the ones with a problem, not the ordinary ladies who just want to enjoy the beach.
Just to be clear tough, a woman in a bikini will never be taken 100 percent seriously, the same way a shirtless man won't. Would you really trust some half-naked person to do your taxes, anyway? There is some truth to the notion that women shouldn't wear mini skirts to the office, the same way men shouldn't wear tank tops — we just equate bare skin with a more casual vibe.
I'm all for being cool about a woman's bare breasts — and of course she's not asking for it, she never is — but it's also unrealistic to expect people to totally keep their cools. Haven't you ever done a double-take when a shirtless man walked by? That much skin is just not something we expect to see every day.
The Atlantic seems to agree with Rey. "Rey's talk and the various reactions to it this summer offer women a model for counteracting the troubling sexualization of women and especially girls across the media and consumer landscape," writes Katelyn Beaty. Who says wearing a bikini has to be troubling sexualization? Oh, wait, it's the media, which Beaty herself is a part of. "Modesty may help women take their sexual presentation into their own hands — with a less-is-more ethic," adds Beaty.
Right, so we're back to accommodating men and the mainstream media, giving them less to get upset over. Apparently people just can't handle the idea that a woman in a bikini doesn't just want to have sex with everyone around her. And Rey forgets an important part: With a one-piece, men can still look at our legs — what we really need is some sort of invisibility cloak.
But all is not lost. Christian author Caryn Rivadeneira gets it. She reacted to Rey's stance with a post on Christianity Today 's website: "Those who are 'worried' about the male reaction to the female form need to remember that men will still find women in conservative, one-piece, adorable Jessica Rey swimsuits sexy, while not every woman in a bikini will be a turn-on. There's no hard-and-fast-rule for how we guard our beach bods from the male gaze."
OK, so exposed bellies and serious business don't go together. But wearing a bikini at the beach — now that's a whole other story. As long as you're covering the parts that are rated R, you're good to go. You could call this "normal modesty." Now there's a time and a place for everything, and the beach is a time for sweating, splashing around, throwing a frisbee, and tanning — not so easy if you're busy gathering the folds of your swimming gown, or whatever it is the new modests are asking us to don.
So if you feel more comfortable in a one-piece swimsuit, then by all means, go on with your belly-covered ways. But if you're really still bringing up men's lack of self-control and women's desire to hide their bodies in 2013, you seriously need to get up to date. A little belly showing never hurt — I'll stick to my bikini, my bathing suit of choice, thank you very much. That said, if you know where to find any of the stylish swimsuits the ladies above are modeling, count me in.
I'll be expecting guys to refrain from objectifying me either way.
Image: Sirens Swimwear on Flickr