To Wear or Not to Wear: The Bikini Debate

Modesty is a controversial topic no matter how you slice it. It is controversial because it is both personal and vague: personal because our wardrobe reflects, in a sense, our heart, and vague because it can seem difficult to define.

Enter the bikini debate: Is wearing a bikini “immodest”?

Swimsuit designer Jessica Rey believes bikinis are immodest, and she’s on a mission to help women find swimwear that is both fashionable and modest.

Bikinis in the Eyes of Men

What struck me about this presentation was what she said about a man’s reaction to scantily clad women.

“Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tools, such as screwdrivers and hammers, lit up. Some men showed zero brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that lights up when one ponders another person’s thoughts, feelings, and intentions.  Researchers found this shocking, because they almost never see this part of the brain shut down in this way. And a Princeton professor said, ‘It’s as if they are reacting to these women as if they are not fully human. It is consistent with the idea that they are responding to these photographs as if they were responding to objects, not people.'”

Misunderstanding the Modesty Message

Messages like this from Jessica Rey are unpopular because it is easy to misrepresent her thoughts as a form of victim blaming. The reason why modesty is important, some say, is because everyone knows men are all horny, uncontrollable beasts, so anyone who wears revealing clothing is just asking to be cat-called, groped, mistreated, or worse.

This is a gross misrepresentation of her modesty message.

Rather, Ms. Rey is calling us to question where we get our beauty norms from. Are they informed more by the culture or more by Christ? Is the choice to wear a bikini a reflection of the desire to appear sexy by culture’s standards, or something else? Does the way you dress display your integrity?

What do you think? Are bikinis immodest?