Are Bikinis Empowering To Women Or Make Them Be Objectified?

Jessica Rey poses a powerful question about the ubiquitous bathing suit of choice for many women: does it hurt women more than it empowers them? 

As I began to watch her video, I was firstly fascinated by the history of the bikini and women's bathing outfits in general, much of which I did not know. Like, for example, how at one point, women were wheeled in horse-or-human-drawn carriages down to the water so that no one would see them in their bathing outfits! 

Mrs. Rey goes on to explore research out of Princeton University that looked at what happens in men's brains when they see a woman in a bikini. The results were far from thrilling: they found that the part of the brain that associates with emotional connection completely shuts down upon a bikini-clad sighting, a rare phenomenon.

She goes on to explore if modesty was actually better for women's success in the long-term. And it won't surprise you to learn that she went and began her own swimsuit line as a result. 

So what do you think? Do think bikinis are empowering? Do you think 'owning' your ability to rock a two-piece is a sign of progress? What do you think of the research Mrs. Rey mentions? 

Share this article with other women to see what they think. We are very curious as to your response! 


Alyssa Padarathsingh
Alyssa Padarathsingh


1 Response

David Foster
David Foster

March 16, 2015

Not at all surprising that the parts of the male brain attached to emotionality and that which sees people in the third person instead of the first shuts completely down upon seeing a woman in bikini, but does that necessarily make it pathological? Does how a man looks at a woman on the beach necessarily translate into how that man views women in the macrocosm? Can they not be mutually exclusive? Obviously I would imagine many other parts of the brain shut down in response to this sight as well, as the man is consumed with thoughts of sex, a natural instinct. Thoughts of sex, as many of us know, operate similarly to meditation in their single-mindedness of focus. Jessica wonderfully illustrates what happens in one moment, but then sort of implies without evidence that this mechanism translates into perception in society outside of the sand. Can’t we functionally see people in terms of “I” in one moment, but then “he/she” in another? Is the female brain never guilty of the same behavior in observation of mostly naked men on the beach? While I agree there is a point of pathological reveal in female wardrobe [outside of the context of tanning and swimming in the hottest weather], I also cannot help but note the apparent 1:1 correlation between women’s progress in society and women’s undress in day to day life. Curious.

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