On Valentine’s Day of this fine year, Kendall Jenner posted a photo of herself in a red bikini, the bottoms of which were so small that it caused concern about the structure of her undercarriage. The suit’s top is fine, but the bottom, a mere whisper of fabric clinging for dear life to what I have to assume are her tidy and small labia. There are roughly four feet of space between the belly button and the front crack. Calculating the physics of this photo wouldn’t have been necessary if her bathing suit bottom made any sort of sense, and the hullabaloo around the physics of the suit and the vagina within distracted us all from the real issue. This was a harbinger of bathing suits to come. We should’ve heeded the warning before it was too late.
Here is a photo of a bikini being sold at Dov Charney’s company, Los Angeles Apparel, which is basically the same as American Apparel. The top of the bikini is your standard string affair, and the bottom is just a string bikini that happens to be a thong. The issue is that the bikini itself is made of leather. Leather is not breathable. It’s also not waterproof. This is a bikini made for yeast infections and sweltering in the sun, the sartorial equivalent of sitting on a car seat that has been baking in the noonday sun.
While this is a display bathing suit, meant for tanning and cocaine poolside, there are other, more distressing bathing suits that mirror the crotch situation that Kendall Jenner seems to be comfortable with. Refinery29 has drawn my attention to the Tarzan bikini, also referred to as the curtain string bikini, which is a bathing suit bottom that is essentially a maxi-pad of fabric attached to a string. I clicked through the slideshow and was pleasantly surprised to see the bathing suit on bodies that weren’t thin, but that gesture towards size inclusivity was not enough to make me feel better about the suit as a concept.
This model seems to be squeezing every single muscle in her body and holding her breath, lest she exhale and reveal her pudenda to the world. The bathing suit is the same size in the front as in the back, which creates a “cheeky” look, but also, I don’t know, maybe some confusion? Like, confusion around which part of the bathing suit is the front and which part is the back, meaning that when you took it off to put on your little sleepy-time pants and then put it back on in the morning to go lay by the pool you run the risk of putting the bathing suit on backward, thereby doing a passive version of wiping back to front, which is not really how we’re supposed to do that activity.
I understand that this is some gesture towards the ’80s. I love fashion and begrudgingly respect the choices made by anyone interested in subjecting their nethers to this situation. But I feel like a “curtain string” bikini bottom would greatly increase the likelihood of a front wedgie, and also, if not arranged just so, would give the puss the appearance of a hastily wrapped pork butt or a side of beef. I’m not a doctor, but I am confused. How is this a tenable swimsuit and why?
(Updated 3/2/22 with new details)