Me­mora­balia Swim­ming Up­stream

Herizons - - Nellie Grams - By Renée Bondy

The cover of the 2016 Sports Il­lus­trated swim­suit edition fea­tures Ash­ley Gra­ham, a so-called “plus-sized” model.Not sur­pris­ingly, this gen­er­ated deaf­en­ing me­dia buzz, as though pub­lish­ing an im­age of a beau­ti­ful, young, white and—wait for it!—size 14 woman in a bikini might break fash­ion, fat and fem­i­nist bar­ri­ers. Such a con­clu­sion, how­ever, would be as slip­pery as a slather­ing of Cop­per­tone sun­tan oil.

Pub­lic scru­tiny of women’s bod­ies is noth­ing new, and women’s swim­ming at­tire—from full-length Vic­to­rian swim­ming gowns to itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny, yel­low polka-dot biki­nis—has re­ceived more than its share of cen­sure.His­tory re­veals that no mat­ter what women choose to wear to the beach, they are sub­jected to the dic­tates of sex­ual morality.

As beach re­sorts gained pop­u­lar­ity in the 18th and 19th cen­turies, women donned long swim­ming gowns, weighted at the hem to pre­vent the gar­ments from bil­low­ing up in the water.They also made use of bathing ma­chines, small sea­side

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