Forget telling the people what she wore. Tell them what she was doing.

I read this Slate article whose title is, “Should a Woman in a Bikini Expect to Be ‘Taken Seriously’? (Yes.)” And I read the things linked to it, and they sensibly talked about cultural notions of purity, and that’s all well and good, but nobody brought up the thing I thought was important.

What is the number one reason for wearing a swimsuit?

No, I’m sorry, you there in the back, “Because they love us and want us to be happy,” is not the correct answer. The correct answer is–wait for it–swimming.

Nobody seems to be talking about the swimming. Like, at all. Do we have an epidemic of young women showing up for job interviews, orchestra concerts, and addresses to the UN wearing bikinis? Well, not here in Minnesota we don’t, because we don’t have orchestra concerts. (Sorry, SPCO, the bitter joke had to be made.) But seriously. I have not seen girls and young women wandering into the grocery store in bikinis. When Mark and I went to the bank last week, nobody was applying for a loan in a bikini. Yes, bikini-clad women are used to sell things. But couldn’t you just as easily look at a young man in a pair of ordinary swim trunks and say, “Boy-o, no one is going to take you seriously wandering around with your shirt off like that”? This is not a problem for ordinary life. If you want your favorite products to use fewer bikini models in their advertising, that is a different issue you are having and should not be conflated with what I personally–or my nieces or goddaughters or young friends or, hell, old friends–can or should wear to–let me say this again–go swimming.

The least modest garment I have ever owned was a one-piece swimsuit. The world was not exposed to the brazen horrors of my navel–for which I think we could all say thank God were it not for the fact that I have owned–and wornout in public–something like half a dozen bikinis since–but since I am a woman of a non-average build, much of my attention was given to making sure that the term “breaststroke” did not get an updated new meaning while I was wearing this one-piece suit. Getting a two-piece TYR suit not only made my Norse myth-geek self giggle*, it made swimming immensely faster, more possible, and incidentally quite a bit more modest.

Swimming. You know, the thing I had a swimsuit for?

I know, I keep harping on that. But it seems somehow relevant. To the topic. Of swimsuits. It’s not that I don’t agree with some of the people who have come in and said, for the love of pete, seeing someone’s navel doesn’t make them less of a person, or kids of all sexes/genders need to deal with their sexual attractions appropriately and not put their own self-control issues on others’ shoulders, or it is just a navel gahhhhh what year is this what are you thinking. It’s just that I feel like returning this kind of discussion to some semblance of functionality is useful too. And seems to go missing a lot.

*One-handed swimsuit! Swimsuit of the LAW! Swimsuit with more mothers than you can shake a stick at! Okay, I will stop now.**

**And by stop now, I mean stop writing it down, not stop doing it, obv.

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