Don’t Blame the Bikini, Blame the Bikini Culture

If only we could throw on a pair of board shorts or spandex trousers, without having to worry about support and a “stay-on” guarantee. But outfitters are getting savvier about the growing market of women triathletes, swimmers and surfers who seek streamlined one and two-piece swimwear. When it is time to hit the pool or the high seas, the models featured below get it right with their modern fabrics, supportive designs and athletic cuts.

To keep swimwear in good shape, rinse in fresh water immediately after a swim; chlorine and salt are both corrosive. Best to wash by hand, or in a low-temperature 30C machine wash. Drip-dry out of direct sunlight; intense heat or the sun will break down the elasticity of swimwear. No matter how well you look after your swimsuit, if you train regularly it will inevitably start to lose its colour and shape. If you cannot live without your favourite model, buy a second before the range is discontinued.

wimsuit designer Jessica Rey’s presentation “Evolution of the Swimsuit,” given at the most recent Q conference, has certainly grabbed Christians’ attention. In it, she traces the historical development of the itsy-bitsy bikinis that have gone from unthinkably scandalous to completely normalized in a matter of decades. Her presentation also addresses—though indirectly—the power of culture to shape our vision, particularly our view of the female body.

In her talk, Rey shares data from a neurological study of the male brain:

Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tools, such as screw drivers 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.

These findings are significant, but they also beg an important question: Why do men perceive women’s bodies this way? Scientific findings show that the brain is essentially plastic. It can be shaped and formed and changed by our environments. This means that not all neurological responses are hardwired. Some are conditioned.

In the case of women’s bodies, it’s very possible that men have been conditioned by culture to have a Pavlovian response. Just as dogs grew conditioned to be stimulated by the ring of a bell, our culture has trained men to respond in certain ways to the sight of a female body. This conditioning becomes most apparent in comparison with non- Western cultures, where modesty standards differ.

Western culture conditions our brains with a very particular image of women, seen on TV, the Internet, magazine covers, catalogs, or billboards, where women are portrayed as beautiful objects, or seductresses. Even the most wholesome images communicate this message, using a beautiful female face or slim figure to draw our attention.

Undoubtedly, Rey brought attention to important data. When men associate the female body with objects, not just theoretically but neurologically, we can be sure that our culture is sick. However, additional neurological research points to a societal dysfunction that runs far deeper than bikinis. When men associate the imago dei in women with an inanimate tool, then a more comprehensive restoration is in order, one that promotes theological correction, cultural healing, and renewed vision. To this end, we need to dig a bit deeper.

As the lucky child of an airline pilot, Michelle embarked on overseas adventures from a young age, including camping in the Australian outback, volcano‑trekking in Hawaii and driving across Tsavo National Park in Kenya.

Her wanderlust and spirit of adventure has never waned. She loves nothing more than feeling the grit and fear when pushing herself to the limit, whether that’s in climbing Mont Blanc, swimming with whale sharks in Mexico, flying, diving, sailing or rally driving.

Michelle is motivated by sport and extreme adventure to keep fit and feed her competitive spirit, not least because she believes there are too few women in the public eye who are willing to show themselves at rock bottom. “I’ve always preferred mud and sweat to make-up,” she says.

She swears by reliable equipment, which has made her toughest challenges more comfortable at the very least and at other times has saved her life. She is a self- confessed gear addict and would love to hear from readers about any equipment that they love or loathe.

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