On Bikinis and Modesty

Monday, July 01, 2013

The video above has been circulating the web for a few weeks now about swimsuits, specifically bikinis, and modesty. There have been several responses to this but three that I found particularly poignant and paralleled my own thoughts about this issue:

Bikinis and modesty is a touchy subject and one that I've tiptoed around here because while I am a self-proclaimed modest fashion blogger, I do have one. I personally don't see an issue with it. I don't feel I have the power to tell someone what is modest and what isn't, just what I believe is modest for me.

What was your reaction to this video? What's your personal stance on bikinis and modesty? I'd love to know your thoughts! Feel free to leave a link if you've blogged about it.


  1. The three responses you posted ALL resonated with me. I don't wear bikinis, I never really have. (Though I would love to get one of the vintage style ones that cover the belly button). I don't think it's up to other people to decide what is modest, nor do I think it's ok to shame someone for wearing something you might not find to be to your standards of modesty. Even in LDS culture, we all have our own interpretations of what is or isn't modest. It's a complicated issue to be sure.

    All that said, I'm not a fan of Jessica Rey's presentation but she sells some adorable suits!

  2. I LOVE this post. I think deciding what is modest is a personal choice, and no one should be made to feel bad because their version of modesty is not the same as someone else's. There is nothing inherently bad about bikinis and although I don't personally tend to wear them, I see nothing wrong with girls who do!

  3. I actually have written a blog post about this! It's more of a correlation of what other bloggers have said with some commentary by me :)

  4. The response over at Young Mormon Feminists echoed, nearly word for word, a conversation I had *just* had with a co-worker a few hours before it was posted. http://youngmormonfeminists.org/2013/06/20/addressing-the-evolution-of-the-swimsuit/

    While this video may be a great marketing tool for the speaker and her own line of swimsuits, it does nothing to advance dialogue on the issue of modesty, instead advocating a return to attitudes of decades past.

    I was most disgusted by her discussion of the study of men's brains (an unpublished study with a laughably small sample size), and the way she encouraged the way of thinking that makes women responsible for men's thoughts. It's a perpetuation of rape culture, and I'm particularly sad to hear it from a woman who positions herself as a role model for others.

  5. Yeah that speech was interesting but not really a valid topic. We can all choose our thoughts, if I see a guy in a speedo vs a guy in swim trunks I can choose to check out his package or not, but his choice in swimwear is not what chooses my thoughts.

    On the topic of modesty in general, we are given the opportunity to choose for ourselves where we feel right with the Lord, society and ourselves. Modesty is tricky and there are so many views/opinions on the topic.

    I think the better gauge is not what we wear but why we wear it. If you are a bikini wearer, why a bikini over a one-piece? Do we feel more hip? Do we secretly like being able to show a little more of our skin when we otherwise have to be covered up (speaking towards the LDS beliefs)? Can we swim better? Want our husbands to have a more tan wife? Because we look more like the stars or even our friends? I mean really why do you choose to put on your body what you do? And if it is because you feel better about yourself sitting out in a bikini what holds you back from transcending that into every day wear?

    Sure there is a level of hypocrisy here, and in dealing with most LDS doctrine for that matter. A woman who won't wear a bikini my be fine eating tiramisu. Someone who is ok making out with their boyfriend my never dream out saying a curse word. Or for me honestly, no I don't wear a bikini and I exercise with my garments on feeling that I am being as modest as possible yet, I will sit out in my swimsuit while the kids splash in the water for no better reason than to get tan so that I feel I look good while out with family and friends at the lake and beach this summer.

    Anyway I think we can hold our standards high, but never hold your standards high while looking down on another. That get's no one anywhere.

  6. Thank you for sharing my post! I love what you pointed out about modesty being an individual choice. It's so true, and something I think we should talk about more rather than just terms of black and white!

  7. i bought my first bikini after i was diagnosed with crohn's disease, when i realized i might one day have a colostomy bag stuck onto my stomach, but didn't yet, and i wanted to fully appreciate the current state of things. I don't always feel great about how i look in a bikini but there are currently no holes in my stomach sutured to exposed intestine, and i can't emphasize enough how awesome this is.
    too often we prioritize men's perceptions of women's bodies over women's lived perceptions of our own bodies.

    -sarah m

  8. I felt strongly about the speaker's use of studies that looked at the male brain responding to female dress. She did not cite any studies or anecdotes about how women felt about the various bathing suit options.

    I came across a very interesting reflection where one man "write[s] as self-consciously and honestly as I can about the experience(s) of being a man regarding sex and modesty." Its worth a read.


    One of my favourite paragraphs: "He didn’t think girls could directly and irrevocably cause inappropriate thoughts, but that such thoughts were just part of becoming an adult human being, and needed to be acknowledged and managed accordingly. He said he felt free. And that he was sorry for me that I apparently didn’t."

  9. I just found your blog through Pinterest! I'm so glad I did. I'm a huge fan of modest fashion. I actually came across this video during the week at another blog too.
    I'm looking forward to following you!

  10. there is nothing wrong with wearing a bikinis, doesn't make you immodest, however, if bc of your beliefs you don't believe in showing your shoulders or knees during the day, why would that not continue to hold sway in what you determine to wear at the pool? it seems very inconsistent is all that i'm saying. i think there are appropriate bikninis and inappropriate ones. but that's besides the point. no you can't determine for other ppl what's considered modest or not...it's a personal decision like you said. however, within your own philosophy for how to dress it seems like there is a mismatch if you won't wear x,y,z during the day but it's ok to wear a bikini when you're at the beach. i would love to hear someone explain their thoughts and justification for it. i don't prescribe to any modest dressing standards so it doesn't matter one way or another to me, but i do follow your blog and find this topic interesting.

  11. I've always had issues about bikinis, growing up and then becoming a young adult as an lds member. My mother never was a huge fan of me wearing bikinis, but she always gave me the last opinion when it came to modesty. I wore bikinis for a couple summers, hoping to feel more accepted by my non-lds friends. Even my friends from church wore them, and whenever we had pool or beach parties they just wore tank tops and shorts over them. As i grew up and became much more critical about, well, everything, i started thinking about why is society ok with wearing really small bikinis, but if a girl shows her underwear she is a skank? Where is the difference? What makes something more appropiate? I know it's because of the patriarchy and male privilege, but why do girls feel ok wearing a bikini top but feel awkward when wearing just their bras? And when you grow up and get married, you start wearing garments and are obliged to be modest at all times-why is the beach, lake, pool, etc, a place to forget about your modesty and your covenants? It's not about showing off your shoulders or your belly button, but aren't we supposed to be consistent? To be perseverant? Aren't we different? 2 years ago i decided not to wear bikinis anymore, not because of what people, men or my friends may think of me. It's about how it makes me feel. I agree that we can't tell people what modest is, that ultimately is an individual choice, but there have to be guidelines and norms. I think it's the same as wearing a strapless dress to your prom and wearing a really modest outfit the next sunday. I don't like the inconsistent and dishonest way modesty is sometimes regarded, but i'm really glad that the discussion is open and that more people are starting to dress more modestly, nevermind their religious beliefs.

  12. This is a very interesting topic and one of the hardest ones regarding modesty. A one piece suit doesn't guarantee "modesty". For example : http://www.thesuperficial.com/photos/coco-bikini-photoshoot-new-york-city

    A bikini can be appropriate and somewhat modest. I think that a big part of modesty is being appropriate. This is especially on my mind because as my daughter enters her teenage years, it is a struggle. So I try to focus more on self-respect and appropriateness ( code words for modesty ) !

  13. Sorry, let me try this link again :


    1. Sorry, the link is not working ....

  14. While I agree with the statement that "Modesty is a personal matter between a woman and Father in Heaven", I think people bend this to fit their own personal style and desire. The Lord has set modesty standards, and it is our personal matter to promise to Him that we will do as he is asked- in both dress and behavior, or to those who'd rather not be modest, to not make that promise. There was a New Era article in 2011 titled to the point that was, well, to the point :). I think that bikinis are immodest and it's really no bid sacrifice we make to wear one pieces, so why not just do it?
    P.S. I'm a high school senior in California. So yes, those adorable Mara Hoffman bikinis are tempting. very tempting. :)

    1. I completely agree with you. The prophet and other church leaders have clearly stated that
      "For example, several years ago Church guidelines said not to wear two-piece swimsuits. At that time, “two-piece swimsuits” meant BIKINIS, which are VERY REVEALING. Now fashion has changed, and some two-piece swimsuits are actually among the most modest swimsuits you can buy. They are better fitting and have longer tops that cover the torso. The bottoms come in more modest styles too. So the guideline not to wear a two-piece swimsuit is not as helpful as it once was, but the goal to dress modestly remains."(New Era).
      When I try on a swimsuit I think of how I would feel if the prophet saw me wearing it. That almost always works for me. I DO NOT want to be at a swimming pool and have guys look at me as an object instead of a girl. I am 14, so I am not saying that I have never been tempted to buy a bikini, but I think I can be beautiful without showing my body.
      Just a personal feeling- I am not judging anyone who wears or does not wear a bikini:)