Evolution of the Bikini

How do most guys respond when they see a woman in a bikini?

That’s what a group of men at Princeton sought to discover. In their study they showed men photographs of scantily clad women and observed brain activity.

“They are responding to these photographs as if they were responding to objects.”

This is just a snippet of the research clothing designer Jessica Rey shares in this fascinating little YouTube video about the history of the bikini:

This video probably provokes polar responses from audiences, cheers from one end and sneers from the other (the teenage side of the audience). And that’s what I like about it. It’s heated topics like this that stir emotion and consequently… springboard conversation.

In a world where parents are constantly battling with the way our daughter’s dress, I encourage you to show this video to young girls, and then… most importantly… don’t preach, but ask questions instead. You might ask:

  • What did you like about what she said?
  • What did you not like?
  • Why do you think women used to cover so much more while swimming?
  • What changed? Was this a good change? Explain.
  • Why do you think men’s brains react to scantily clad women as if they’re looking at objects?
  • How do you want a man to look at you?
  • How much of this responsibility is on the woman?
  • At what point have women become “sexualized”
  • How can a woman be cautious in the way she dresses?

What about you– my readers– what do you think of this video?

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over a dozen books including the new Get Your Teenager Talking, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events across North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.
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6 Responses to Evolution of the Bikini

  1. Kathy says:

    I grew up ashamed of my body because I was always overweight. But my 13 year old twins are beautiful. Not just in my eyes, but in the world’s eyes too. However, I never let them wear short shorts, short skirts, short shirts and anything with inappropriate writing on it. I always explained to them that it wasn’t necessary to show the world their girl parts by wearing things that were too small. They needed to respect their bodies and not show too much to others. Now they choose to be modest in a fashionable way. Even at 13 years old they express themselves through respectful clothing and swim wear. I can only pray they continue on this path as they continue to earn the freedom to develop their decision making skills.

  2. Mia says:

    I have a real issue with people miss-using or not presenting the studies they quote in the exact tone and light that they were intended, and this is where I put Jessica Rey. I think her intention is good but we know what happens to good intentions. First of all 21 men is not a good sample, especially when you are talking about men who admit that they have a poor view/attitude against women anyway. Of course they are going to view women in bikini’s as objects because they don’t value women fully dressed.
    I also think that we as Christians are putting all the blame/guilt/responsibility of what men think/feel/act on girls and women. We have done this before with other forms of sexual purity and it is not only wrong it is dangerous. I believe modesty has less to do with whether or not your stomach is showing in your swim suit than it does how you act in that swim suit, or in your gym shorts and t-shirts in your day to day life. I’m not promoting little girls in string bikini’s, what I am promoting is teaching our girls that they are beautiful and God made them in His image, therefore they need to honor that image by being comfortable and pure not by covering themselves up and hiding for fear of “causing” a man to stumble or have impure thoughts. This would also require us to expect more from our men. Expecting the boys/men to honor God, by not looking upon women or touching women in ways that do not God.

  3. dan manns says:

    great article! i love the line: “modesty isn’t about hiding ourselves, it’s about revealing our dignity.” such great insight!

  4. Greg says:

    Great post, Jonathan. I think Jason Evert (from Chastity.com) hits on this topic extremely well in his video post, “Should Christian Women Wear Bikinis”: http://youtu.be/WtzIcz7MOkc

  5. Jay Safford says:

    Great article! Girls don’t realize where guys thoughts go. I have talked to the guys in my youth group about this and they all say that their thoughts stumble when they see girls in bikini’s. We (guys) try to keep a pure thought life but when girls dress in certain ways it’s a struggle to have pure thoughts. I don’t want my daughter causing guys to think that way about her (not until she is married!). I will be passing this on to the parents in my youth group as well as using it as a discussion.

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