Bikinis: To Wear or Not to Wear

I am spending my Memorial Day weekend in Southern California … on the beach … in a bikini.

I’ve had a “yes, you can” / “no, you can’t” relationship with bikinis throughout my life.  

When I lived under my parents roof they were strictly forbidden.  Not only for me and my siblings, but for anyone who wanted to swim in our family’s pool.  I had many embarrassing HS moment when I had to inform my friends that they’d need to put a T-shirt on to swim in order to cover their inappropriate bathing suits.

I bought my first bikini during my Sophomore year at BYU and loved it.  I had that same great suit for about 5 years – and then I got “the lecture” from a friend about my bad sexual influence on the men and boys around me.  I felt terrible – and hung up my bikini.

Another 5 years went by before I began to feel that men’s choices were not my responsibility.  And then 5 before I grew tired of feeling overdressed at the beach and decided to don the bikini I missed so much.  

Today, I make my swimwear choices according to environment.  At family and church functions, I don’t.  I choose to respect the culture I’m in and wear suits that cover up more.  But if family or church friends come in to my back yard, river, lake, or beach, I choose to wear what I like best, that that’s usually a bikini.

I love the way I feel in my bikini.  I feel confident and even proud of my body despite its bulges.  I like the way the sun, wind, and water feel on my skin.  And I feel myself in a bikini.


Suzette lives in the Washington DC area and works as a Professional Organizer. She enjoys blogging and serving on the Exponent II Board. Her Mormon roots run deep and she loves her big Mormon family which includes 20 nieces and nephews, 6 sisters, 5 brother in laws, 2 parents - and dozens of cousins. Her favorite things about church are the great Alexandria wards, temple worship, and all things Visiting Teaching.

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129 Responses

  1. MJK says:

    Other: “I have worn a bikini in the past and would wear one again but usually feel more comfortable in a one-piece suit due to belly flab.”

    The first time I ever wore a bikini was when I was 6 months pregnant. I had bought the stupid thing on sale 4 years prior and never worn it (didn’t do much swimming.) Then we went on vacation while I was pregnant and I had nothing else to wear that fit. So I wore the bikini. In public at a hotel pool/water park.

    Honestly, I don’t see how showing your belly is any more immodest than showing what a one-piece bathing suit shows. Absolute best-case scenario you’re looking like you wear a tank top with teeny tiny boy shorts. And no Mormon momma I know would let their pre-teen daughter go out like that. Unless it’s swimming of course, then it’s ok.

    It’s all about cultural perceptions. They change.

    Someone may jump all over me for this but Thomas S. Monson was born in 1927. Ezra Taft Benson, (who was prophet until I was an adult) was born in 1899. They grew up in a different world. When President Monson was born people were just starting this new fad of wearing suits that looked like this – form fitting and sleeveless (GASP!)'s Athletic Tank Suits

    He probably grew up with parents telling him that the old Edwardian fashions from the late 1890’s were so much more modest and what was WRONG with the world today? Hell in a handbasket I tell you, soon people will be going around naked!

    Look at the one-piece suits on that page – look exactly like what’s on the market in “modest” swim wear today. Coincidence? I think not.

  2. Diane says:

    What I am really upset about is that our church culture (in the year 2012 A.D.) telling women to dress because we influence what men will think of us.

    I wish Church leaders will stop pushing this kind of negative propaganda. I mean really if this is the case then why do women who are in their 80’s still get raped.

    I wish these same parents would force their boys to cover up and put t-shirts on in the pool the way they do their girls.

    This topic just makes me crazy.

    I wish our male church leaders would tell finally just say you know what “I’m sorry sisters but, we’ve been teaching the wrong thing. Mothers you need to start teaching your sons that women deserve respect regardless of what one is wearing and that you as a fully functional male are soly responsible for your own thoughts. NO one else but you.”

    • AMEN SISTER!!! I agree with my whole heart and soul. The type of thinking you are rightly discouraging is just one (tiny) step away from victim blaming. That type of thinking is deeming to both men and women–i.e., it suggests men are uncontrollable animals and women are responsible for men’s actions. Sorry for the tirade.:) I’m really passionate about the issue, if I didn’t make that clear.

  3. Mary says:

    A woman who flaunts her body can claim she is not responsible for a man’s actions all she wants. That’s her story and she can stick to it. I will stick to my story of a heartbroken helpless wife and mother whose husband was affected. Women should be looking out for each other, not competing against each other in this manner.

    • MJK says:

      So men are helpless beasts who have no control over their own actions?

      • Michelle says:

        It’s not a binary. If you understood how the trap of sexual compulsion/addiction works, and how much agency men lose in addiction, and how many men are victims themselves, having fallen into traps as children/teens before they knew what was happening to them, you’d maybe have a little more compassion and not demonize and shame them. This is not the same thing as suggesting that men need to abdicate their responsibility or that somehow women are to ‘blame’ for their problems. But neither is it fair to suggest that women are blameless in the culture where men and women struggle mightily — even good men and women — to stay sexually pure in thought and action. This kind of hostility toward men who struggle doesn’t help.

        If you have never heard an addict in recovery tell his story, I’d recommend it. It might change the way you talk about this. You may still choose to wear a bikini, but you might have a different heart toward men who struggle.

    • Diane says:

      Their are way more deeper issues going on in a marriage if a man is going to stray from his marriage vows because a woman is wearing a bikini.

      The first one being maturity.

      • Diane says:

        Sorry, it should be “There”, not their

      • spunky says:

        Well said, Diana. And your somment also reminds us that if a man cannot control his thoughts/actions in regard to what he sees, then there is something really wrong with him.

    • Suzette says:

      Mary, I’m sorry that a difficult sitution has happened for you. It sounds very painful.

      And Michelle, thanks for reminding that thus is not a simple “cut and dry” situation.

      I don’t think compassion is ever a bad thing – on both accounts.

      • MJK says:

        I think Michelle misunderstood my comment. The view that women are responsible for men’s thoughts is offensive to men. It paints them as nothing more than animals with urges they cannot control at worst or perpetual juveniles at best.

        I think men are human beings with choices and control over their own life.

    • MJK says:

      The problem of course being the view that a woman who is showing X amount of skin MUST be doing it to try and attract men. Not because she likes the clothing or it’s comfortable or any other reason. ONLY to attract men.

      Yep it’s all about “competing” with each other, that’s all we women think about, snagging a man and keeping him.

      • Amelia says:

        This is spot on, MJK. It’s very telling when women’s behavior is always first understood in terms of her status in relationship to men. What I wear is not only about what men think of me. Usually that’s barely a concern at all. The idea that women must always be in competition with each other, via their appearance, for the attention of men is really disturbing.

    • Ru says:

      I suspect that the problem in that case has less to do with a man being “affected” (interesting phrasing) by a woman “flaunting” her body than what he chose to do after he was affected.

      Impure thoughts happen. If his wife was “heartbroken” by what happened, however, I suspect a lot more than thoughts occurred.

    • Annie B. says:

      I think instilling an obligation in women to keep strictly covered to solve the problem of unwanted sexual thoughts in men only reinforces to both men and women that women’s bodies are nothing but sexual objects. I do feel badly for men who struggle with sex/porn addiction, but I very much disagree that women covering up will solve that problem. Just look at the burqa culture. If anything men there objectify women more. Could it be that instilling a responsibility in females to cover up to protect men from their thoughts has enabled men to hold women responsible for men’s sex addictions, and crippled men’s ability to control their thoughts when faced with the sight of bare skin?

      • Michelle says:

        I also was not meaning to suggest that women covering up would ‘solve’ the problem. But neither do I think women exposing their bodies will solve it.

        I think there is a lot more to why modesty can be powerful.

        I think it’s also important to remember that *women* play a significant part of women being objectified and sexualized. Women use their bodies for power and money and “love” all the time. If women stopped letting their bodies be used for ‘consumption’ purposes in our culture, men would have nothing to “consume.” This is not just about men having power over women. Women seek power over men, too. And over other women.

        I think a woman can wear a bikini and not be playing that game in her own intentions, but that doesn’t mean people will be able to read her mind.

        To me, it’s sort of like going to another country and thinking that I can use the same language or hand gestures I am used to or comfortable using without any acknowledgement of what such words or actions could mean in the culture I’m in. I can still choose to do my own thing, but I can’t choose how others will respond to or interpret what I do or say. There’s that tension of personal liberty and community respect, methinks. Yes, modesty has a cultural element to it, but why wouldn’t it? I don’t see that as always being a negative (even as I understand that sometimes it can if misused).

        Lastly, I do want to say that I think at some point, modesty is only as powerful as it can be if it’s chosen. I understand women not wanting to choose it because they think it’s somehow a symbol of male oppression or lack of freedom or something. I understand for some, such a choice may be a personal way to somehow reclaim power. I don’t agree with the choice, but I can understand it. I see modesty as a freeing principle, not a binding one.

        (btw, I took my link off for this comment because now I’m sharing thoughts now that are not as relevant to the Shamed documentary project.)

    • Annie B. says:

      To Michelle’s reply to my reply: (not sure if this comment will end up in the right spot)
      “I think a woman can wear a bikini and not be playing that game in her own intentions, but that doesn’t mean people will be able to read her mind.”
      Bingo. But isn’t it sad to teach people to read a woman’s choice to wear a bikini (or in the LDS culture, a tank top or non-knee length shorts) as “objectify me”? If it’s possible that a woman could be wearing something because she feels or looks great in it, or it’s hot, or she wants to soak up some vitamin D, or it’s much easier to launder a bikini in a hotel shower than a one-piece, why continue to validate the idea that the only thing a woman could be saying by wearing a bikini is that she wants to be objectified? Yes there are people who take it that way, who were brought up to see it that way, and we should all be aware of that to protect ourselves. I’d wear a burqa if I visited burqa country for my own safety, but I wouldn’t promote the idea that women are obligated to wear them.

      “Lastly, I do want to say that I think at some point, modesty is only as powerful as it can be if it’s chosen.”

      I wholeheartedly believe that at *any* point, modesty is only powerful at all if it’s chosen. As a child, I learned that modesty as it related to me was consideration for the boys and men around me at the expense of my own comfort and preference. Thank heaven I now think of modesty as consideration for myself, and for those around me, where the comfort and preference of those around me is no more important than my own comfort and preference.

  4. Keri Brooks says:

    I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with a bikini, but I wouldn’t wear one. When I swim or dive, I do it athletically, so I would be afraid that a bikini wouldn’t stay in place. Plus, I’m a redhead, so I burst into flame if I’m exposed to direct sunlight. The more fabric I have on when I swim, the better. I’ve considered getting a wetsuit for sun protection. But I certainly wouldn’t judge anyone who chose to wear a bikini.

    And men should be responsible for their own thoughts. (Plus, if you think about it, a one piece suit doesn’t really leave much more to the imagination than a bikini does.)

  5. LovelyLauren says:

    My mother wouldn’t let me wear bikinis in high school (although I have some two piece swimsuits that are practically there). I got into the habit of just keeping my eyes peeled for cute one piece swimsuits and snatching them up when I see one I like. I frequently get compliments when I wear my suits out and I like the piece of mind my one piece brings me.

    I also like how it makes me feel elegant and classy. I feel just as sexy as the girl in the bikini without having to show more skin.

    Maybe on a vacation I’ll find a bikini I like, but it’s just not a style I love or one that looks great on everyone. It’s like strapless wedding dresses. I don’t have a problem with them, but they’re one of the most common styles and some women are really more flattered in halters or sleeves.

    • swissmunicipal says:

      Rare is the women who actually looks better in a strapless gown than one with straps, whatever kind they might be. 🙂 I’m still baffled that it is such a popular bridal choice…it just makes everyone’s shoulders look broader. Every time. I suppose there are women who look better in a strapless dress…but I have yet to meet/see them.

      • Emmaline says:

        Not to mention the highly attractive “grab under the armpits and hitch up” action that inevitably happens. Just not attractive.

      • Amanda L says:

        I think broad shoulders on women look really nice. (Also, should I mention I have broad shoulders myself?) But really, broad shoulders look nice. Anyway…

    • Ru says:

      The cutest one-piece is usually cuter than the cutest bikini, that’s for sure. The designers have to try harder.

      That being said, give me the ease of pulling off bikini bottoms on a trip to the restroom any day.

  6. EM says:

    I wore my first bikini when I was 7 months pregnant and in Hawaii – away from condescending family eyes – and it felt wonderful. Even better, going skinny dipping in the ocean – that is an awesome feeling! Of course it was after midnight and no one except my husband was around. And I agree with Diane – don’t hold me responsible for what men think. Men will think whatever they want even if you’re half naked or covered up!

  7. alex w. says:

    I keep wanting to buy a bikini, but I’m so shy. It helps that outside of Utah, pretty much everyone wears a bikini, not just the “hot” people. Maybe I’ll get around to it this year…

  8. swissmunicipal says:

    It’s hard to think of what I wear swimming as a “bikini”, but I suppose that’s what it is. It’s essentially a very very covering sports bra (like a little vest) and then a swim skirt. The sports bra is to make it possible for me to move around and be comfortable while swimming (I can run dance, whatever, even at my letter size), and the skirt is to balance my body proportions. One is very practical, the other more fashionable, and I recognize the semi-discord there, but if I can go out and swim and be comfortable, who cares.

    It’s seems like a major double standard, in or outside the church, to say that it is ok while swimming for men to have their upper body uncovered but not ok not for women to cover the one difference (breasts – since it isn’t really socially acceptable not to in most places in the states) and then call it good. How is it “immodest” for a women to show her abs and “modest” for a man to show his abs. I mean, really? Come on.

    As for bikinis on a practical level, if I’m arguing the real sake of “modesty” where men are concerned (which I’ll admit, I think is stupid – I believe men are responsible for their own actions and will have the same thoughts if a women is covered or not), in my opinion any busty women who runs around in any swimsuit where her breasts are bouncing around, whether it is a regular one piece, covering two piece, bikini, uni-tard, what have you, is way more “immodest” than a woman who has the “girls” firmly strapped down. But again, that’s just my opinion.

    • Starfoxy says:

      any busty women who runs around in any swimsuit where her breasts are bouncing around, whether it is a regular one piece, covering two piece, bikini, uni-tard, what have you, is way more “immodest” than a woman who has the “girls” firmly strapped down. But again, that’s just my opinion.

      I agree, and I dare anyone who has watched the opening sequence of Baywatch to argue otherwise.

    • Jessawhy says:

      Where did you find this sports bra and skirted bikini? It sounds practical and cute.

      • swissmunicipal says:

        Ah, sadly Jessawhy, this was a combination I had to make up. I’m slowly finding bras that are awesome, but the swim suit market leaves much to be desired… I mean, come on, why aren’t swim tops built like bras with proper support? Is it really that difficult?

        The sports bra is this one: and I’ll be the first to admit that it looks a little wonky in the pictures. Much less so in real life (particularly in black). But as an female who needs a lot more support, this is a wonder bra of wonder bras. I can dance, swim, run, whatever with little to no chest bounce. And I’ve been looking for that since I hit puberty in 7th grade. Jackpot. Really. I’ve tried just about everything, and this is a winner.

        So, I end up looking rather sporty with the sports bra, but I “balance” that with a stylish swim skirt…still not a perfect combination, as skirts tend to soak up too much water and be a bit of a pain while swimming, but I’m working on that…

  9. Rita says:

    I’m an older LDS woman – I’d worn bikinis in my youth and also after marriage – though granted they were far less skimpy than styles we see now. After having children it was more about covering stretch marks so I now choose to stick with tankini style swimsuits – which I find much more comfortable than a one-piece. I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about – I think we should decide for ourselves what constitutes a modest suit without making blanket directives – that should go for shorts, shirts whatever.

  10. April says:

    Growing up, my Mormon parents had no problem with bikinis but I, personally, was too embarrassed to wear them. When I was older I had some moles removed from my back, which left scars, and that finally moved me to buy my first two-piece tankini. I found that although church dress codes requiring one-piece swimsuits claimed to promote modesty, virtually all one-pieces left the back immodestly exposed. That was the body part I most wanted covered. A tankini exposed my belly button (gasp) but covered my back. Which leads to the question–why is it so important to cover the belly but no one cares about the back? Part of the reason I tend to dislike dress codes is because they are so often arbitrary and illogical.

  11. TopHat says:

    Other: I had only worn 1 pieces because that’s what you’re supposed to do…. Until this summer.

    I bought a Wonder Woman bikini and it is now my only swimsuit, so for here on out, it’s what I’m wearing. And it’s the coolest item of clothing I own.

    I have a tummy, with stretch marks up to 4 inches above my belly button and stretch marks on my thighs from my weight gain during pregnancy. But I figure, if I act like I’m rocking it, then I’m rocking it.

  12. Rachel says:

    I will be wearing this swimsuit tomorrow on a Malibu beach:

    I am in love.

  13. Michelle says:

    I commented above but also wanted to add a couple more thoughts. I’m helping with some social media efforts for a film that will be addressing the shame surrounding sex/porn addiction. I’ve included two different links to my name so you can learn more about it. I was on set for a couple of the interviews and they were amazing. It will have a non-demoninational focus (research has shown that conservative Christian communities can often be bad on the shame end of the spectrum with regard to sexuality…this film will be addressing that and addiction recovery).

    Hearing stories like theirs has changed how I think. I confess that I used to be MAD, just plain mad, at men who “did this” to their wives and treated women like objects and just “couldn’t control themselves.”

    I don’t think that way anymore.

    I hope those of you who simply say, “Men should just control their thoughts” will take some time to learn a little more about how addiction works. Yes, they *should,* but some cannot fully do that where they are. I’m not saying that there should be any of giving permission to keep acting out, of course, so this isn’t the same as absolving them of responsibility. That standard is still there. But they could use some compassion because many of them are as trapped as an alcoholic or drug addict is. They are ill and need support and help, not criticism and disdain.

    It’s like that saying, “Don’t judge them because they sin differently than you.” We all have things we *should* be doing but aren’t, don’t know how to quite yet, or can’t seem to figure out how to get a grip with. We all struggle. We’re all human.

    • Diane says:

      So, when a 40 year old male rapes a 80 year old women in her own home because he looked thru her window and saw her wearing a housecoat its’ her fault.

      And as an after thought I don’t believe in “non-denominatinal” churches because they all seem to have either a Baptist, or Evangelical approach. They hold no credence to me. but, that is not the point of this article.

      You are not going to tell me a victim of sexual assault that it was “somehow my fault.” Sexual Predators are by their nature very manipulative people. They are able to fool people like you into believing they have no control over their impulses.

      I could have a impulses to eat chocolate all day long, but, I don’t because I know what the consequences will be. What we are talking about here is power , authority, access and lack of supervision, and lack of accountability. This is the sole responsibility of the perpetrator, male or female

      And what really makes me angry with your response is how you state” they did this to their wives,” No, they didn’t. The ONLY people,”they did this to is their victims”

      Now lets get back to topic of whether to wear a bikini or not.”

      Sorry about the thread jack everyone

      • Amelia says:

        Diane, Michelle is talking about sex and/or porn addiction, not sexual predators or rapists. And her call for compassion is perfectly fine. I’d extend it to include a call for charity and compassion on the part of participants in conversations at the Exponent. While it’s find to disagree, it would be best if we first read what others had to say in a spirit of compassion and charitable understanding.

    • Amelia says:

      Michelle, I agree that we owe it to all others to be compassionate and understanding of their struggles. That said, the onus to control behavior lies with the person who struggles, even those who struggle to the point of addiction. I can and should be compassionate, but that should not mean I cannot in any circumstance do something I think is perfectly acceptable (and which most of society agrees is perfectly acceptable), in a way not at all designed to hurt others, simply because it might inadvertently push another person’s triggers. And I say this as someone who understands addiction very well because I have a partner who is a recovering addict. He’s around people who do what he now abstains from on a regular basis, including his family. And though I almost always abstain around him, once in a while I don’t. And he has no problem with it. Because he knows that it’s his responsibility and his alone to control his behavior, and that it is inappropriate and unrealistic to expect that everyone around him, whether they know his struggles or not, will behave so as to make it easier for him to deal with his problem.

      So yes. Compassion is good and necessary to living a loving, responsible life. But it does not require that we change our behavior on the off chance that we might be in the presence of someone who struggles and is tempted by our behavior.

  14. Howard says:

    Enjoy your SoCal bikini holiday weekend! You’ll fit right in.

  15. Oak says:

    Happened on this LDS womens site by chance and wondered what the answers would be.

    I am active LDS, male, grew up in a well known resort town and worked as a cabana boy at the pool of a very exclusive hotel from the age of 13. Met people from all over the world, saw europeans wearing their styles and go topless, saw americans wearing bikinis, spent a fair portion of each day rubbing lotion or suntan oil on guests backs and upper shoulders. Was often called into the men/womens health spa to assist with naked guests who had too much to drink and needed help out of the area. Much discretion involved.

    Saw more skin and nakedness in less time and more often than any other member of my deacons/teachers/priests/elders quorum. Maybe in the whole church! Worked there for many years and put all the earnings and tips into my mission fund.

    What I learned: 1) bodies can be attractive or unattractive in many types of swimsuits. 2) I was responsible for my thoughts and actions, my body would respond to stimuli as the good Lord intended it to. 3) The most immodest swimsuit I ever saw was the one I was forced to wear at the swimming pool at BYU my freshman year. Yikes! I never went swimming there again.

  16. Michelle says:

    Sorry, I just realized my comment was in the wrong place. I meant it to be in the main comment line, not as a reply.

  17. Ru says:

    I think a bikini (and really any two-piece) is just a lot more functional for a day at the beach. Anyone who has tried to peel off a one-piece suit in a park restroom knows what I’m talking about.

    Re: the whole men’s thoughts v. compassion for struggles … While I am sympathetic to people who have a hard time with this issue, the fact is I am no more responsible for a man having impure thoughts regarding my body than I am responsible for someone feeling envious over my possessions. Individuals have a right to live their lives free of the unreasonable demands of others.

    If my bikini’d self is too much for a man to handle, perhaps he just shouldn’t go to the beach or pool. Is that harsh? Yes, but it’s fair. Otherwise it would be like someone with a food addiction or alcoholism walking into a nice restaurant and demanding that everyone else stop eating and drinking.

    If you wouldn’t feel good about berating someone for owning a BMW, remodeling their kitchen, getting a promotion at work, getting engaged, getting pregnant, going on a great vacation, etc. because it causes enviousness, covetousness, or dissatisfaction in others, then you probably shouldn’t tell a woman that what she’s wearing is similarly “inappropriate” merely because it provokes extreme reactions in others.

  18. Jessawhy says:

    I like my bikini because it’s more flattering for my body type than a one piece or tankini (although I wish there were more skirted bikinis).

    I especially like that I can buy the top and bottom in different sizes.

    As far as how I feel around church members, I’m a little torn. I don’t feel like I cause bad thoughts in men, but I do feel like I’m tempting people to judge me. Maybe that’s the same thing. Maybe I’m crazy.

  19. Ru says:

    One more thing – wearing bikinis at the beach or pool is a cultural norm. (Whether that is good or bad thing may be debatable, but it is a fact.)

    Regardless of whether Mormon Woman X chooses to wear a bikini at the public pool or beach, there will be another woman there wearing one there.

    The fact that there are LDS men who are so overcome by impure thoughts at the beach says more about the way LDS culture hyper-sexualizes women’s bodies (shoulders! who else finds shoulders so overwhelmingly sensual?) than it does about the woman wearing the bikini.

    Non-LDS men don’t seem to have this problem. Men in other cultures where nudity is more commonplace don’t have this problem. To submit that a woman following a CULTURAL NORM is somehow “flaunting” herself and “causing” impure thoughts gets the problem (such that it is) completely backwards.

    Note: I am not blaming the men for this issue. I understand it may be embarrassing and frustrating for some of them. I am, however, suggesting that the solution is not to encourage all the women to cover up more, because that seems to make it worse. The more you insist that there is something inherently sinful at looking at midriffs, the more people will believe you.

    • Diane says:


      Oh Ru, I wish I had your eloquence. but, I think you are dead on.

      Compassion is fine, but we need to stop making women in this Church responsible for ” bad impure thoughts” This has been done since Eve tempted Adam with the apple and this is the reasoning of why women have been fighting the stereotype ever since.

      And, I never did say what I wear to the neighborhood pool. I wear a one piece. Mostly, (tongue in cheek here) because if it scares the heck out of me, I know it will scare the heck out of everyone else. But, that is my problem and how I view my own body and no one else’ responsibility

      • Diane says:

        This might seem unrelated, but I don’t think so and I’m really not trying to offend anyone.
        But, I’ve been thinking about how this is played out and emphasized in the temple. I don’t like how Eve is portrayed as the reason for Adams’ fall.

        The way Eve is seen in the temple is as a temptress. And I feel like this permeates every avenue of our church culture. (i.e) this is why we have to cover up now because now we see.

        I’m sorry. maybe I shouldn’t have said anything or discussed this topic in relation to the temple. but I see it as a valid point. So moderators can feel free to delete this comment.

  20. rbc says:

    My wife wore bikinis until about 4 years ago when our oldest daughter turned 12 or 13, I forget. Last summer at the beach our daughter, who was then 16, came out to the beach one day in a bikini. My wife said we needed to discuss it with her. I was ambivalent. Predictably, our daughter responded by pointing out the fact my wife wore bikinis until only a few years ago. My wife was left speechless and looked to me for help. I pondered my dilemma for a few moments and then said to my wife ” yeah honey, you did wear bikinis until a few years ago. It’s time you started wearing them again!” My sincere, but weak, attempt at humor did not work. Our daughter relented and went back to her tankini. Our annual OBX trip is in a few weeks. We’ll see what happens, but I’m pretty sure, that for different reasons, I will be disappointed at both my wife and dauther’s swimsuits.

    • Rachel says:

      I’m glad that this particular issue was brought up, because I think it is a real one. I wear two pieces (which my husband knew when he married me), yet he recently asked me if I would wear one pieces when we had children. My answer was a very, Very non-committal “Maybe.” I will have to think about it more when that time comes.

      I talked with my older sister to see what she had done, because she also wore two pieces in her past life. She told me that she made the switch from two-pieces to one-pieces when her daughters were old enough to recognize it, but she still wears two pieces in some (usually anniversary vacation) settings.

  21. Annie B. says:

    I wore a bikini to the beach for my first time several years ago when my husband and I took our 5 year old daughter to Hawaii for a week. My parents were very strict about modesty while I was growing up. My dad once threatened to burn a pair of my shorts that didn’t fall to my knee-caps, and my mom was pretty much on his side. I had worked hard to get back in shape after I had my first daughter and was just starting to feel as though I could own and enjoy my own body instead of feeling owned by the men in my life and the guilt I had grown up with. It felt wonderful to feel comfortable enough with my body to wear a bikini. I still wear bikinis sometimes while on vacation, but usually wear a long tankini for taking the kids to the pool and family stuff, just because that’s the culture here.

    I do think teaching respect for one’s body is important, and teaching girls and boys basic sex education can only help with that. I also think compassion for those with sex/porn addiction is important. I think it’s harmful to simply oblige women to cover up to solve the problem of unwanted sexual response for guys though. Back in the day when it was customary for women to wear dresses that covered them from their wrists to their ankles, guys had a sexual response to seeing bare ankles. And in cultures where women breastfeed openly for convenience and comfort, guys report little to no sexual response to seeing a bare breast. I think this tells us that standards of modesty are highly cultural and that in general men’s sexual responses can be trained. I think instilling an obligation in women and girls to strictly keep everything between x and y covered and to go out of their way to disguise the shape of their bodies with their clothes (often at the expense of their own comfort and preference) because of men’s sexual response only reinforces to both women and men that women’s bodies are nothing but sex objects. I know I definitely felt sexualized and objectified by the way my parents taught me modesty when I was younger.

  22. allquieton says:

    Bikinis are designed to sexually attract men. In our culture, they are what women portrayed as sex objects (in magazines, tv ads, etc.) wear.

    It’s hard to believe that women want to wear bikinis for comfort. The most convenient swimwear just happens to be the one that men are most attracted to? And if a woman is not trying to get sexual attention, then why is she mimicking sex objects?

    • Annie B. says:

      So you are saying that if a woman does not go out of her way to disguise her body so that people can’t see what it looks like, she is trying to mimic a sex object? I’m sorry, but I don’t believe Women’s bodies are sex objects any more than men’s bodies are. I can positively say the times in my life when I felt most sexualized, the most worthless and objectified, was when my parents insisted that if I didn’t wear something that covered three inches more of my shoulders or knees that I should consider myself walking pornography. “It’s hard to believe that women want to wear bikinis for comfort.” Just because it’s hard for you to believe doesn’t mean it isn’t the case. It’s possible that other people’s personal experiences are just as valid as yours.

      • Nate says:

        No, I actually didn’t say women need to disguise their bodies. I also didn’t say bodies are sex objects. I also don’t think my experience is more valid than anyone else’s.

        It sounds like the point we disagree on is the reason women wear bikinis. And you seem to be saying that women shopping for bikinis are thinking about things like saving suitcase space? I’ve listened to too many conversations between girls to believe this.

      • amelia says:

        Nate, given your apparent sex (if your name is an accurate indication), no amount of listening to “conversations between girls” can adequately equip you to comment on the motivations behind women wearing anything.

        The reality is that there are all kinds of two-piece swimsuits out there, from a swim dress with a bikini type bottom underneath that covers more than most one-pieces to the skimpiest string bikini you can imagine. And with every woman there will be different motivations for choosing to wear one of those suits. With many women comfort is a main reason. Just imagine wearing a clinging wet suit that you have to pull off to sit down on a toilet to pee and you’ll start getting a small inkling about why a two piece might be more comfortable. Just to name one.

        And yes. Looking good is another motivation. But “looking good” is not the same as “mimicking sex objects.” As several commenters have pointed out in this discussion, they choose to wear bikinis because they make them feel good about how they look. To wear something that boosts your confidence is not the same as “mimicking sex objects.” Wearing a top that prevents large breasts from bouncing around (and most one piece suits would not accomplish that goal) with a skirt because that combo makes you more comfortable being physically active is not the same as “mimicking sex objects.”

        I’m sorry, but your reasoning doesn’t really deserve that name. You’re just playing into the dominant Mormon discourse around modesty and women’s bodies–that any breaking from the church’s dictates about what needs to be covered is nothing but submission to our broader (evil) culture’s sexual objectification of women. Too bad that very discourse is every bit as responsible for sexualizing women as the broader cultural discourse is. We’ll only get away from the discourse of sexualizing women, both Mormon and non, when we stop seeing women first and foremost as sexual creatures. And believing that any woman who chooses to wear something that is in some situations a mechanism of sexualization could only be attempting to imitate sex objects absolutely is a form of seeing all women as first and foremost sexual creatures rather than seeing them first and foremost as individuals.

      • Bones says:

        Allquieton: Brilliant, sweeping over-generalization of Bikinis! Have you ever shopped at Athleta? J. Crew? Bikinis are functional, athletic and well-built for us athletic women who have no qualms about showing our **gasp** abominable abdominals.

      • Nate says:

        Amelia, you honestly believe that men can’t understand the motivations of women? That’s where you’re at? All I can do is shrug when you say things like that.

        Also, you keep putting words in my mouth. Looking good = mimicking sex objects? Church dictates? Seeing women first and foremost as sexual creatures? Where are you getting this? It’s the same way Annie responded. It’s hostile. I don’t want to spend half my post insisting that I don’t believe the horrible things you two imagine me to believe. Defending myself against things I never said. It’s just silly.

        I’d love it if you just wrote a simple sentence saying what exactly you disagree with that I actually said, and why.

        Do you believe that (in general) bikinis are designed to draw sexual attention to women? Why do you think bikinis boost confidence? It’s not the actual bikini, so what is it? When you say “looking good,” in whose eyes are we talking about here? What does good mean? I get that you think comfort is a big part of bikini popularity. Concerning women portrayed in a bikini in media, what percent of the time do you think they are being sexually objectified?

        Of course I don’t believe the only possible reason every single woman wears a bikini is to get sexual attention from guys. But I do believe that’s generally the idea.

        And you can wear all the bikinis you want, I don’t care. It’s just a discussion.

        And Bones, yes I generalize. Cut me some slack here, this isn’t a legal document.

      • Ru says:

        Nate – I don’t think Amelia ever said “men can’t understand the motivations of women.” You can’t put words in her mouth and accuse her of doing the same to you.

        You said, “And you seem to be saying that women shopping for bikinis are thinking about things like saving suitcase space? I’ve listened to too many conversations between girls to believe this.”

        What I take from this statement is that you find the many commenters here offering reasons besides sexiness (comfort, convenience, ability to adjust top v. bottom sizes, suitcase space, ease of washing in a hotel, etc.) to be disingenuous at best, liars at worst.

        Amelia then said, “no amount of listening to ‘conversations between girls’ can adequately equip you to comment on the motivations behind women wearing anything.”

        Which I understood as (though I may be wrong) Amelia saying that, regardless of your personal experiences, you can’t possibly know what ALL women do and why they do it.

        You and Amelia may disagree, but she never said you couldn’t have an opinion — she said you can’t have the *conclusive* opinion.

        So here’s my concise sentence – your belief does not get to trump my actual experience. You say, “Of course I don’t believe the only possible reason every single woman wears a bikini is to get sexual attention from guys. But I do believe that’s generally the idea.”

        That’s fine if that’s what you think, but don’t you see how that’s *kind of* like saying every woman who is telling you that’s *not* the general idea is lying and/or fooling herself? So when I tell you, “No, that’s not why I do it, or why my friends do it,” you get to say, “Whatever. I don’t believe you. Or if I did, I think you’re a minority.” And that’s not really a discussion.

        If this were a discussion, I would point out that women wear bikinis all the time when men aren’t even around (sunning out in their yards alone or with their girlfriends, for example, which my friends and I did just last week) and expect you to consider my statement as evidence against your suggestion that women wear bikinis for reasons unrelated to men — but you’ve kind of already indicated you don’t find that sort of evidence to be credible.

      • amelia says:

        No, I believe that listening to a few conversations from women (not “girls”) doesn’t make you an expert on women’s motivations for choosing what they wear.

        How’s this for simple:

        You said women wearing bikinis are imitating sex objects and did not provide any exceptions.

        I found motivations others in this conversation had named for wearing bikinis and pointed out that they are not equivalent to “imitating sex objects.”

        Therefore, you are wrong that women wear bikinis in order to “imitate sex objects” and nothing more. Simple enough for you?

        You ask: “Do you believe that (in general) bikinis are designed to draw sexual attention to women?”

        Some are. Some are not. Just as some shirts, skirts, dresses, shorts, pants, shoes, etc. (for both men and women) are designed to attract sexual attention from others while some are not.

        You ask: “Why do you think bikinis boost confidence? It’s not the actual bikini, so what is it?”

        I take the women who say bikinis boost their confidence at their word. As to your assumption that there must be more and that the “more” must be the sexual attraction of men, I think that’s an inaccurate assumption. In some cases, yes. Maybe it is that they think the way they look will make them sexually attractive to men. (as an aside, I’ll just say there’s nothing at all wrong with that. One of the basic realities of being human is that we are sexual creatures wanting to attract a sexual partner. If a bikini helps someone feel capable of doing so, more power to her). But that’s far from the only something “more” about a bikini that might make a woman feel more confident. Maybe she feels more confident because the bikini she has chosen provides enough support for her large breasts that she can move freely and enjoy aquatic sports. Maybe she feels more confident because a bikini flatters her body shape and she takes confidence from presenting a generally attractive appearance to the world. (and no, that’s not about sexually attracting men. When I wear a nicely tailored suit and blouse because it makes me look generally attractive and therefore I feel more confident, can the only possible explanation be that I’m attempting to sexually attract men? Why should a swimsuit be any different from a business suit? Can you really not see that believing that “looking good” automatically means “sexually attracting men” is demeaning of women and that it contributes to our culture’s sexualization of women?) Maybe she feels more confident because after growing up in a household and/or religious culture in which she was made to feel like her body was dirty and shameful and had to be hidden or else she would be automatically tainting all men by causing them to lust, she has finally realized that it’s her body and it’s not shameful or sexual by definition but instead is a wonderful gift from God to be celebrated and that particular swimsuit is the one she likes. For itself. For whatever aesthetic reason appealed to her.

        Who are you to diminish all of the many ways that a particular swimsuit, whether bikini or one-piece or whatever, makes a woman feel good about herself is nothing more than a mechanism for a woman to sexually attract men. Can you really not see the way that such an attitude contributes to the sexualization of women?

        You ask: “When you say “looking good,” in whose eyes are we talking about here?”

        Her own. Other women’s. Men’s. Children’s. Why should I give a damn whose eyes we’re talking about? “looking good” does not mean “looking sexy” any more than it means “imitating a sexual object.”

        You ask: “What does good mean?”

        Pretty, attractive, well put together, confident, healthy, comfortable, sexy, flashy, sassy, strong, capable. Among others. Why must you reductively equate “looking good” with “sexy”? Why does wanting to look good mean “imitating a sexual object”? Why does “looking good” mean something exclusively in relationship to men?

        You ask: “Concerning women portrayed in a bikini in media, what percent of the time do you think they are being sexually objectified?”

        I frankly have no idea. Since I don’t watch TV much and never read the kinds of magazines that advertise using women in bikinis, I don’t consume all that much media in which women are portrayed in bikinis. And frankly, I think this is beside the point since I don’t think the relationship between media portrayals and women’s decisions re: clothing of any type is as simple as you represent it.

        “Of course I don’t believe the only possible reason every single woman wears a bikini is to get sexual attention from guys. But I do believe that’s generally the idea.”

        I disagree. And I think the comments from women in this conversation about why they wear bikinis support my disagreeing. Just as a starter.

        “And you can wear all the bikinis you want, I don’t care. It’s just a discussion.”

        Maybe to you it’s just a discussion. To me, it’s yet another instance where a man (one among several) has come along and reduced me to nothing more than my existence as a creature that can sexually please others like him. Discussions about sexualization and women’s freedom to wear what is appropriate and right in their own minds, rather than being dictated to by male authorities, are not “just discussions” for women. Attitudes like the one you have espoused here does real harm to me and to other women and to girls every. single. day. Your inability to see a woman in a bikini as little more than someone who has turned herself into a sex object contributes directly to the sexualization of women. The fact that having read this entire conversation, including comments from women who do wear bikinis for reasons other than “imitating sex objects,” you still concluded that there could only be sexual motivations for the behavior reduces women to nothing but their sexual natures. Have the balls to at least own that.

    • Annie B. says:

      And Bikinis are also designed to take up less room in a suitcase while packing for a vacation, to be easier to get off and on while wet, to be easier to launder by hand in a hotel shower than a suit with more fabric, to allow the wearer to feel the water, wind, and sand against their skin. And yes, some women feel attractive in a bikini and enjoy wearing them for that reason also. It’s true that one of the things women’s bodies were designed to do is to sexually attract men. But women’s bodies are also designed to do physical labor, to perform skilled tasks, to house an analytical mind, to bare children and breastfeed them, to provide a mode by which women can experience and enjoy their surroundings and themselves, even their own bodies. Women’s bodies were designed to do a great many things besides sexually attract men. If a man sees a woman in a bikini, or even a naked woman for that matter and chooses to think only of how that body is designed to serve him, and ignore that she and her body were created for numerous other things including her own happiness and joyful experience, he is objectifying her.

    • Annie B. says:

      I’m very sorry if I came off as hostile Nate, I didn’t mean to. If it’s any consolation, your remarks came off as hostile to me as well, but I realize you probably didn’t mean them to.

      “Bikinis are designed to sexually attract men. In our culture, they are what women portrayed as sex objects (in magazines, tv ads, etc.) wear.”

      They’re also what a lot of female surfers wear, life-guards, snorkelers, divers, swimmers, body-builders, fitness models, sun-bathers, moms, business women, etc. Not just models posing for PlayBoy. So what I’m taking issue with is your assumption that because one of many of a bikini’s purposes and designs is to sexually attract men, all women who wear a bikini must be mimicking a sex object. Men often pose for PlayGirl and other media shirtless, but I don’t assume that any shirtless man I see is begging for sexual attention or mimicking a sex object. I believe simply showing more of one’s body is not an invitation to be viewed as a sex object. I believe “My body feels and looks great in this” is an acceptable reason to want to wear a bikini, or board shorts, or any other outfit.

  23. Michelle says:

    To submit that a woman following a CULTURAL NORM is somehow “flaunting” herself and “causing” impure thoughts gets the problem (such that it is) completely backwards.

    Not necessarily, because this cultural norm of showing more and more skin is used *repeatedly* and *constantly* to represent women as objects and to keep filling the pockets of unscrupulous money-makers — and this in the mainstream media. In more sordid environments, this kind of exposure of the body is used to trap both men and women (and children) in the bonds of addiction and sexual slavery. It’s not LDS culture that has defined what is sexual. It’s the larger culture that has. To me, ‘everybody’s doing it’ is not at all a compelling reason to do it, especially given where the larger culture is.

    • Amelia says:

      The fact that LDS culture makes its contribution to defining what is sexual through the negative does not mean it is exempt from responsibility for oversexualizing women’s bodies. The moral mandate to cover it all up contributes to the over sexualization of girls’ and women’s bodies as much as the pressure to show it all off. What’s great about this conversation is that (with a few exceptions) most participants are saying women should do what is comfortable for them without being dictated to by external forces. That should be the goal.

    • Annie B. says:

      It is true that there are media who treat women as objects, and women who treat themselves as objects. But I don’t agree that simply showing skin is what accomplishes this objectification. In my experience, instilling a strict obligation in women to cover up only furthers the objectification. I can positively say the times in my life when I felt most sexualized, the most worthless and objectified, were when my parents insisted that if I didn’t wear something that covered three inches more of my shoulders or knees that I should consider myself walking pornography. Who was sexualizing who?

      • Michelle says:

        But isn’t it sad to teach people to read a woman’s choice to wear a bikini (or in the LDS culture, a tank top or non-knee length shorts) as “objectify me”? If it’s possible that a woman could be wearing something because she feels or looks great in it, or it’s hot, or she wants to soak up some vitamin D, or it’s much easier to launder a bikini in a hotel shower than a one-piece, why continue to validate the idea that the only thing a woman could be saying by wearing a bikini is that she wants to be objectified?

        I think you are being disingenuous here. To deny that women are being objectified right and left in every industry through every medium, and to try to insist that the problem lies in Church standards, to me is only perpetuating the problem. You aren’t going to be able to ascribe new value to bikinis by talking more about vitamin D. It’s like trying to go to another country and make them adopt your personal meaning of a certain word or gesture or article of clothing. They already have a meaning in our culture, and that meaning is not the doing of the Church. It’s making billions of dollars and feeding off of lust, greed, and desire for power.

        If you want to wear a bikini for your vitamin D, then that’s your prerogative. But I think it’s crazymaking to then somehow claim ‘victim.’ Own the choice and be honest with yourself about what that choice can and does mean. Realize how many organizations — radical feminist ones included – that are waking up and trying to wake up the world to what is happening in our culture. This goes way beyond the Church.

        Let me not be misunderstood. Can modesty be taught in potentially harmful ways? Yes, but that doesn’t mean the standards themselves are the problem. I’ve seen so many young women and men with a sense of worth and power because of modesty, and I think it’s because they understand that it’s not just about sexuality. My kids have been taught modesty from very young ages and I’m also teaching them a broader context than just the sexual element to it all. I think it can and should be done.

        So in my view, rather than trying to ‘take on’ the standards, why not talk about healthy ways to talk about them? Because ironically, I think always taking issue with it as a sexual issue only reinforces that limited and limiting view of it.

      • Ru says:

        Michelle —

        “If you want to wear a bikini for your vitamin D, then that’s your prerogative. But I think it’s crazymaking to then somehow claim ‘victim.’”

        I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’m certainly not going to wear a bikini and call myself a “victim.” I’m just not going to allow a man to call himself a victim because I chose to wear a bikini. There’s a big difference.

      • Annie B. says:

        Ditto to what Ru said.

        Women are being objectified left and right, that’s true, but me covering up at the expense of my own comfort and preference won’t stop that. I have no control over a man objectifying me when he sees me, so I might as well dress in a way that is comfortable for me, that I enjoy. I do have consideration for others, and dress in a tankini when I feel it’s appropriate because I know people around here aren’t as used to seeing a woman in a bikini, and because of the culture they were raised in believe that a woman who wears a bikini is trying to call sexual attention to herself. On vacation in Cali or Hawaii, thankfully, most people understand that a bikini is just one more type of bathing suit and don’t think a woman in a bikini is asking to be sexualized any more than that same woman in a one-peice, sun-dress, shorts, or jeans.

      • Annie B. says:

        “I think you are being disingenuous here. To deny that women are being objectified right and left in every industry through every medium, and to try to insist that the problem lies in Church standards, to me is only perpetuating the problem. ”

        I didn’t deny that women are being objectified. I have acknowledged that they are. And I didn’t claim that the problem of objectification originated in church standards, but that church standards often reinforce and perpetuate the objectification, by teaching women and girls that their comfort and preference comes second to the comfort/preference of the men (or even women) around them, or that if they don’t strictly keep between X and Y covered, they should consider themselves walking pornography. I don’t propose we all go nude, or that everyone should wear as little clothing as possible to solve the problem of over-sexualization of women, I simply propose that we acknowledge and teach that there are numerous valid reasons women choose to wear things, including “I feel good in this” and “This emphasizes what a beautiful creation my body is.”…that it’s not always, and should not always be assumed that a woman has chosen to wear something solely because she thinks “This will cause men to think sexual thoughts about me”. I do agree that we should not throw modesty out the window, but teach it in a more healthy way that takes into consideration the comfort and preference of women as much as it does the comfort and preference of men.

  24. Be Reasonable says:

    I can only assume that those in favor of bikinis are just as in favor of guys wearing Speedos (like they do in Europe) and, when said guys see a girl in a bikini and have sexual thoughts, the obvious result in their Speedo will be plain for them and their young and teenage daughters to see? After all, it’s not YOUR problem that guy in Speedo can’t control his thoughts, right? You aren’t the guardian of men’s thoughts! Come on, ladies. Be reasonable. I have never, in my 50 years, been taught that sisters in the church are the guardians of men’s thoughts. We certainly don’t preach that in all those AP lesson manuals. I have 3 daughters. They have been modest, and yes, they’ve had to shop through the one pieces and tankinis to find things that are appropriate. But when the OP says “I feel confident and even proud of my body ..”, it tells you that pride and body image is at the source of all this angst over what to wear. My only point is don’t have a double standard. Encourage your husband or significant other to strap on a Speedo and let it all hang out (or up) because, after all, men are not the guardians of women’s thoughts, either.

    • Diane says:

      Be reasonable

      “My only point is don’t have a double standard.”

      I just went on line with and searched the topic of modesty (which is really what we are talking about) In just about every talk on the subject the women and sisters were told that being modest means covering up because men will think badly of them There were suggestions put in place that told women and girls how to dress like covering their shoulders, not showing your belling. My personal favorite is one article telling young girls that one way they can be modest is by wearing long boy shorts.

      In comparison, boys are told being modest had to deal with getting tattoos and not to get ear piercings , and not to think impure sexual thoughts.

      So, I’m asking you, why are church leaders talking about double standards, they don’t tell boys to cover up.

      And btw, there were 18 articles per page on five different links per page.

      The reason why I’m saying this is maybe because you are a male is that you don’t see this as indoctrination, but, that is exactly what it is indoctrination.

    • Annie B. says:

      Living in America I saw guys in speedos here and there. I’d giggle inwardly a little because it was a look I wasn’t used to seeing and reminded me of my little brother’s underoos. Otherwise, I didn’t think much of it. I haven’t heard any European women complaining about erections, so it apparently isn’t a widespread problem in Europe, and I doubt it would be a problem in America. If I did see a guy wearing a speedo who had an erection, I wouldn’t automatically assume it’s from sexual stimulation or that the man is allowing his thoughts to wander or trying to call attention to himself. Maybe he just woke up from a nap on the beach or has a medical condition. If my daughter were there and asked questions about it, I’d use the experience to teach her about male anatomy. If a speedo is what a man feels most comfortable in to swim, I don’t have a problem with him wearing one. Just like if a woman feels most comfortable wearing a one piece bathing suit or a burqini, I don’t have a problem with that.

      “I have never, in my 50 years, been taught that sisters in the church are the guardians of men’s thoughts.” Many of the women here have been taught exactly that. Their experiences are just as valid as yours. When the OP says she feels confident and proud of her body, I think that’s a positive thing, much better than the alternative to what I felt growing up under my LDS parents’ standards and reasoning behind modesty, which was ashamed, embarrassed, objectified and sexualized.

      • Michelle says:

        ” I think that’s a positive thing, much better than the alternative to what I felt growing up under my LDS parents’ standards and reasoning behind modesty, which was ashamed, embarrassed, objectified and sexualized.”

        I’m seeing this pattern a lot. I think this does happen — not healthy teaching. But why not look at better ways to teach?

      • kp says:

        Annie B.,

        I love and appreciate your attitude; it is so refreshing. As an LDS male I much rather wear a “speedo” for swimming because it is so much more comfortable. Trunks trap and drag water and air, cause chaffing, dry slow. A “speedo” is like a sports bra for a man…it lifts and supports. Women’s swimming suits are most often worn next to the skin just like a man’s speedo; I can often easily see women’s top and bottom shapes in two or one piece suits. Erections shouldn’t be encouraged, but they also shouldn’t be demeaned because they are not always sexual. I hope to teach my daughters what you teach.

    • amelia says:

      Apparently you missed that General Conference when Elder Oaks told the girls to be modest because if they weren’t they’d become pornography to some men.

      Yeah. It doesn’t get more blatant than that when it comes to telling girls that they have to be modest in order to keep men from having sexual thoughts.

      And Speedos? Go for it. I don’t give a tinker’s damn when men wear at the beach. I don’t see why they should give a tinker’s damn what I choose to wear, either.

      • DefyGravity says:

        There was also Elaine Dalton’s talk to the young women about virtue in April 2012 where she tells them not to Do things that might make the young men lose their virtue, but makes no reference to a young woman preserving her own. There are two examples of women being told they are responsible for men over the pulpit.

      • Moss says:

        And the entire comment section of this thread.

        All these Mormons insist that women are responsible for men’s thoughts. Not sure where they got the idea since it isn’t taught.

        Also, the whole “men in speedos” is not much of a turn on for women. Sorry. Most women are not turned on by looking at a guy’s wang.

  25. Davis says:

    I don’t think men have anything to do with women and bikinis. It is about modesty and respect for your body and for those around you.

    Swim suits should be functional yet still cover enough to keep onlookers from being uncomfortable. Lets face it, no one wants to see some some dude thats 15lbs overweight bulging our of a speedo. Likewise, no one wants to see a bikini that doesn’t quite cover enough.

    It is not about other peoples thoughts, it is about being kind to your fellow man. Men should not wear speedos unless they are swimming for a medal. Women should not wear bikinis unless they have a modeling gig coming up soon.

    Yes, this comment is completely shallow and about outward appearance, and yes, outward appearance does matter at the beach. Women and men should be kind to their fellow swimmers, and only wear tiny swimwear if they are a rocking hardbody.

    • LovelyLauren says:

      It is shallow, but I kind of agree. Yes, bikinis are sometimes more useful for a variety of reasons, but they just don’t flatter about 90% of women out there and everyone looks and feels betters in a swimsuit that flatters their body type.

    • Ru says:

      Agree to disagree. Personally, my favorite beach experiences have been in places where folks aren’t quite so hung up on how they look, and rather just focus on having a good time. Does this mean that (gasp!) old, chubby, or otherwise imperfect people might also enjoy the beach in a swimming suit or at the pool? Sure does. But guess what? Once you realize that 90% of the people at the beach aren’t airbrushed perfect, you stop caring.

      The fact is, very few people have a perfect “beach body,” and the square coverage area of a one piece versus bikini, trunks v. speedo, is close to irrelevant. I like my chubby, slightly celulitey thighs and appreciate that they can take me swimming — and frankly they’ll look the exact same whether I’m wearing a one-piece or bikini, and it just so happens that 9 times out of 10 I prefer bikinis. Oh well.

      The point is, everyone should be able to wear what they want. If a 70 year old granny or pregnant woman is out on the beach in a bikini, who am I to tell her that she would be “better off” or “more comfortable” or less “lust-inducing” in a one-piece? (Frankly, I don’t know how a pregnant woman could stand being in a one-piece suit, but that’s not really my business, is it?) If a man with saggy skin on his chest or big belly is enjoying himself in his speedo or trunks, why should I care? They knew what they looked like when they stepped out onto the sand and they obviously didn’t mind.

      We get exactly one mortal life, and I plan to enjoy mine the way I feel most comfortable, regardless of the imperfection of my body.

      By all means, you can express what you have admitted to be a shallow viewpoint, but just keep in mind that not everyone cares about their own aesthetics as much as you do.

    • amelia says:

      Physical and aesthetic perfection should not be a prerequisite to wearing anything. And no one has any obligation to consider what others think of them based on their clothing, especially not based on what others think of them in an aesthetic sense, before choosing to wear it. By your logic, I shouldn’t be able to wear certain color combinations because they might offend the eyes of those around me. Or I shouldn’t be allowed to style my hair in certain ways because others might find it less than beautiful. Etc., etc.

      I think onlookers should get over themselves already and learn to see others for the person they are. If they’re a person who happens to carry a little extra weight but is confident and comfortable in their bikini, perhaps instead of seeing nothing but a fat slob who makes you uncomfortable you should learn how to see a beautiful, confident person who doesn’t let the shallow, mean opinions of others dictate her behavior. Because what you say is shallow. Grossly so. I’d say that it’s those who think in such a shallow fashion who need to change, not the ones who are offending their delicate sensibilities.

    • KaralynZ says:

      Ah the double standard for women raises it’s head.

      If you’re ugly you can’t wear a bikini because no one wants to look at you. If you’re pretty you can’t wear a bikini because no one can stop looking at you.

      Either way, women only exist as sex objects, valued only by their physical appearance.

    • Katie says:

      Wait- is the problem that we look to good in our bikinis or too ugly?? Either way- it’s objectifying to teach our daughters (and our sons) that our reasons for dress should be based on other people’s purely physical interpretation of us. A hundred years ago, I’m pretty sure modern-day one-pieces would have been considered too revealing/ sexually stimulating (or off-putting!) by most people.

      I plan to teach my children to base their decisions about what to wear on their own feelings about their bodies, and what makes them feel they are respecting themselves. There are excellent reasons to dress modestly, without throwing in the “no one wants to see it” and the “walking pornography” arguments.

  26. Of course, you can also go beyond the bikini and sunbathe/swim au natural. I find it very amusing that there are mormon nudists (complete with websites), with much the same reasoning of comfort, enjoyment, and self awareness as those wanting to wear bikinis. Assessing the comfort level of those around you (as mentioned in the OP) is only polite, but no one should be expecting others to abide by their personal rules just because they happen to be there to see.

    It is wholly possible to be sexy in a burqa just as it is possible to be completely unattractive in a bikini (or less).

    Personally, I like my wife’s two piece that covers like a one piece, for its functionality (I find it near impossible to get in and out of the one piece jumpsuits for baptisms, no idea why women have to strip naked if they want to use the bathroom), and for the comfort she has with how much it covers. I try to make sure she knows how sexy I find her no matter what she wears or what parts she covers.

    To me, its all about respect for yourself, no matter what you wear, and respect for others in allowing them to make their own choices.

  27. Be Reasonable says:

    I, too, went to and searched “modesty” and looked at the results. I obviously didn’t have time to read through all the references, but not once did I read “Girls and women- you are the guardians of men’s thoughts. Men have no responsibility whatsoever.” Not even anything approaching that concept or anything along those lines. “So, I’m asking you, why are church leaders talking about double standards, they don’t tell boys to cover up.” The Strength of Youth pamphlet is clear that both sexes are to dress modestly. Why? Because females have sexual thoughts at seeing naked males, too. True, not nearly as much, but they do. Now, I doubt a girl seeing a guy with his shirt off at the beach means the same to a guy seeing a girl without her shirt. We could talk all day about whether that is “fair.” Modesty, at least as taught by many church leaders, is mostly in our attitudes, which then manifests itself in the way we dress. I believe, like wearing garments, modesty is an outward expression of an inner commitment to follow the Savior. Modesty will always be somewhat subjective, but leaders have asked us to draw some lines in the sand. Whether individuals choose to get as close to the line as possible or stay far from it is their business.

    • Diane says:


      You still haven’t answered the double standard question you raised. Church leaders telling girls to wear boys clothing in order to be modest is seriously disturbing to me. I have yet, to see or hear church leaders telling young men to wear female clothing.

      • Be Reasonable says:

        Would you be happier if we went back to the ’50s where girls were discouraged from dressing like a boy? If all you have is some random leader telling girls they might consider wearing long shorts that resemble those worn by boys, that’s not a double standard. That’s just fashion advice. Girls already wear boys clothing. Why is it that most nonmember girls’ shorts are cut up to within a couple of inches of their waistline, but nonmember boys wear shorts closer to knee length? Fashion standards of the day, pure and simple. I see no double standard. Church leaders do tell boys to cover up. We don’t let the AP play basketball shirtless. I’ve personally said something to young men wearing too short shorts. Like the comment above that says his wife used to wear bikinis but balked when their 16 year old daughter wanted to wear one, what’s a parent to do if he or she has not been wearing modest clothing? That is a tough double standard to explain.

      • Nate says:

        I don’t think it’s a double standard, b/c men’s clothing generally isn’t designed to get women thinking in a sexual way about men’s bodies. But much of women’s clothing is designed with men in mind.

        Just think about why so many women’s tops are low-cut. If it was for comfort wouldn’t men’s shirts be low-cut also? It’s obviously a design to draw men’s attention to cleavage. Just one example. They study men to see what gets their attention and design women’s clothes based on that.

      • DefyGravity says:

        Nate, men dn’t have breasts, so what is comfortable for a man might not be comfortable for a woman. Men’s pants tend to be baggier then women’s in the crotch area because it is more comfortable for them. By your logic, because men’s pants are different then women’s pants, men’s pants must be designed to show off the crotch area to women. How about, instead that strange statement, we assume that men and women’s clothing can differ because bodies are differently shaped. Do you have breasts? If not, you really have no idea what’s comfortable. Do women the courtesy of assuming we dress with ourselves in mind, not you. If you decide women are dressing to get you attention, that doesn’t make it true.

      • Amanda L says:

        Nate, I think our culture has completely different issues with men and expecting them to dress in a way that distinguishes them from women as much as possible, and that often causes men’s clothing to be less comfortable, too. Our society is not incredibly tolerant of “effeminate” men.

      • swissmunicipal says:

        I’m confused. Explain to me again how a man’s revealed abdominal area (while swimming) is modest and a woman’s revealed abdominal area (while swimming) is immodest?

    • Emmaline says:

      Here’s a talk that exemplifies the “girls are the gatekeepers” mentality:

      “Being a guardian of virtue means you will never text words or images to young men that may cause them to lose the Spirit, lose their priesthood power, or lose their virtue.”

      The language is problematic because it implies that the YM have no agency in the matter – faced with images, they WILL lose virtue, and it will be the fault of the YW.

      And it was in the first 5 references. I’m sure I could find more.

      • Michelle says:

        That quote is from a talk that was only to YW, because it was from a yw broadcast.

        Note this in another article where she and the YM president are working together to communicate to both YM and YW:

        I believe that these young men with priesthood power must be guardians of virtue. They must be virtuous themselves so that they can access that priesthood power and exercise it in purity and in holiness, and they also need to protect others’ virtue. And the young women also have to be guardians of their own virtue and guardians of the boys’.”


      • Emmaline says:

        Note that in that talk there’s no reference to a boy protecting a girl’s virtue through modesty.

        The idea of looking a certain way being equated with tempting someone of the opposite sex is almost exclusively blamed on the young women in the LDS church.

      • Emmaline says:

        Here’s the talk Amelia referenced above:*+%28name%3a%22Dallin+H.+Oaks%22%29

        Note that he doesn’t say “YM, when you see women dressed immodestly, take care to bridle your thoughts” but rather “YW, with your dress, YOU are the problem by being pornographic.”

    • Nate says:

      Defygravity, okay, so just to clarify, you don’t believe women’s clothing is designed to attract men?


      • Amelia says:

        I can’t speak for DefyGravity, but I can for myself

        Turns out that the world does not revolve exclusively around men. Nor do women’s choices. Shocking, I know. No. Women’s clothing is not designed to attract men. Not exclusively and often not even primarily.

        Furthermore, the only way we’ll effectively combat the sexualization of women and girls is if we stop assuming that women’s entire existence revolves around men. Assuming that women’s clothing is “designed to attract men” not only does not help, it actually directly contributes to the problem of sexualizing women and girls. Not to mention it not being an accurate understanding of how women’s clothes are designed and chosen.

      • Annie B. says:

        Nate, just to clarify, do you believe that the only thing women’s clothing is designed for is to attract men?

        As women, our very *bodies* (including faces, hands, ankles, arms, and legs) were designed to attract men. Our bodies were designed to do a great many other things as well though.

      • Ru says:

        I don’t want to blow your mind here, Nate, but I’m going to venture out on a limb and posit that you don’t read a lot of fashion magazines.

        You know how hipster style is in right now? Baggy shirts, skinny jeans, ratty shoes? And retro — stripes, polka dots, Mary Janes, old-fashioned cuts of clothing? Maxi dresses, which generally cover everything but a girl’s shoulders, arms, face and feet? FEDORAS, for crying out loud?

        Pretty sure modern designers (who are generally women and gay men, in case you were wondering) weren’t thinking, “YES! You know what will really appeal to a heterosexual man, is a woman dressed like a hobo and/or June Cleaver and/or a tent.”

        Given that most men will find a cute woman in a t-shirt and jeans sexy, yeah, I’m going to agree that most fashion is not designed with men in mind. Men are generally *very* easy to please, fashion-wise.

        If women dress for anyone other than themselves (which is most of the time), it’s to impress other women. (Who do women ask for fashion advice? Not straight men — which, if that’s who we’re all trying to appeal to, we’ve been going about it the wrong way.)

        I think you’re working off the assumption that women’s fashion is designed with men in mind because someone said it once, and haven’t really bothered to examine that idea and its implications. Your “Really?” implies that you think your position should be obvious, when in fact I think it’s pretty obviously the opposite.

      • Ru says:

        PS – Nate, my “blow your mind” statement was a joke. Since I saw that you’ve found people on here to be hostile, I just wanted to clarify that I’m joking with you, since I know that doesn’t always come across on the internet.

      • DefyGravity says:

        I can’t speak for designers, but like Ru said, there is evidence that says design is about design, not men. It’s about women feeling beautiful or cool or fun, which they can do without a man. I can feel good in my clothing without a man seeing me or commenting on me. Women don’t need male attention to feel good about themselves.

        Then there are the women buying the clothes. Some women choose clothes that they think will make men notice them. Some women choose the exact same clothes without thinking of men at all; they choose based on comfort, personal style, personal feelings of beauty, price, convenience, a given occasion, and a myriad of other reasons. Assuming all desingers design for men and that all women dress for men is giving yourself way too much credit. Frankly, men just aren’t that important to motivate evey clothing choice anyone ever makes.

      • DefyGravity says:

        And as artists, I think many designers would not agree with you about clothing. It is their art form, it is how they express themselves, and the choices they make are based on color, texture, shape, etc. It’s about the piece as much as the person wearing it. Most clothing styles started with professional, talented designers. Your attitude is over-simplifying their art form, like saying all classical art was intended to be pornographic.

  28. Bones says:

    Some Ideas to Consider from an old, experienced, 50-year-old mother of four:

    1 – One of my jobs as a mom is to model to my kids, even now that they are adults, how to be comfortable in their own skin (which I find spookily rare in our culture).

    2 – When I am covered up all winter, I begin to hate my body and get hung up on every little wobble. Conversely, in the summer (at the neighborhood pool) or on vacations to the beach, I almost always wear one of my 15 or so bikinis and feel MUCH better about myself. My friends say they feel the same way.

    3 – My abdoman is not horrendously immodest. It’s just an abdoman. Get over it.

    4 – If I EVER hear someone say “Look at her, she should NEVER wear a bikini
    has GOT to get over the notion that women were created to be visually pleasing to the eye. Nope. I was created to be strong, smart, and to get things done. The body God gave me is HOW I get things done on this mortal earth.

    5 – Yes, a 50-year-old can absolutely be a Mormon, the Bishop’s wife AND wear bikinis. And anyone who doesn’t like it, can swim elsewhere.

    6 – My mom ALWAYS wore bikinis back in the 1950s. Why do we insist on participating in this modern shaming of Mormon women and their bodies.

    7 – Oh, and I LOVE that my kids post our vacation photos on Facebook and the ward folks see the fabulous Sister Bones in a bikini.

    • Annie B. says:

      I love your attitude so much. Thank you.

    • Rachel says:

      I love this comment. Particularly your number 6. There is a great photo lining the hall of my downtown LA stake center from the 1930’s. It is a formal dance and *gasp* nearly half of the woman are wearing backless and/or sleeveless dresses.

      It is clear that modesty in its current form was not the issue then that it is now. My Mormon mom wore mini skirts in the 60’s and 70’s and my oldest sister wore leggings-as-pants in the 80’s/90’s, and in the 2000’s both are outlawed from BYU.

  29. Diane says:

    there is a blogger by the name of Gabi Greg(she is plus size) she is making a splash on You tube because she posted a picture of her self in a bikini.

    she is totally unashamed of herself(as it should be).

    I wish I had her confidence.

  30. Nate C. says:

    I have had a few inquiries, and just need to clarify. The Nate posting above is not EmilyCC’s lesser half.

    In general, I find that in water activities, less clothing generally leads to a better experience, and I have tested that theory to some pretty far extremes. Therefore, I would expect bikinis (compared to one piece) to lead to more general enjoyment when participating in water activities.

    Any persons’ temptation starts and ends with their own brain.

    When I was 14 years old and full of puberty I thought a gray blanket laying on my bed vaguely in the shape of a woman was pretty damn hot. That doesn’t mean it was the blanket’s fault that I got a boner.

  31. Mariajo says:

    Hi everyone!
    I’m from Spain and I often visit this page because it really inspires me to prepare my RS lesson every month. But I’m a little bit upset after I read a few comments about this bikini topic. I’m fine with it, I’ve never worn it because I felt like in underwear (pre-temple underwear) and I felt uncomfortable, but I’m used to see girls and women wearing it. Actually, 95% of people in Spain wear bikini, and look strange at to anyone wearing one-piece bathing suit, as if we have a complex or don’t want to show a part of our body on purpose, or we’re just a weirdo.
    We have quite a big problem with our youth about that: they wear bikini most of the time but in church activities. 15-20 years ago, back in my teens, it wasn’t a problem at all, since bikini was just used by just a few, but fashion has a lot to say about it, and we’re just getting more and more used to it.
    It is sad to hear that the prophets are old-fashioned, and time has change and they have to change their mind. Well, I thought it was about revelation and not fashion. In that case, right now 50% of women do or have done at least once topless at the beach in Spain, well, if in another 20 years that practice becomes fashion, then the leaders have to change their mind again, because it feels great and so free not wearing anything on top! Well, I’m sure, if in a few years something changes, it would be by revelation and not by women pressure, like the changing on temple clothes the past decades. I think it’s a matter of faith, or at least that’s how we see it in a country with 80% of members converts to church.
    Another point that comes to my mind… If bikini is modest and appropiate… what’s the limit? I mean, if it’s ok to wear a bandeau, hipsters, halter type, tanga, or the 4 little tiny triangles that we more often see around here. If someone feels comfortable on it, does it make it modest or, at least, ok? Why being modest all day, at all times… and then when going to the beach show everything?
    We sadly see some of our girls with bikinis and a little top on, and the next day a very short skirt. We try to teach modesty in a country where the weather doesn’t help, but where we feel special and different form the rest. I think everyone can do what it’s ok for them, but I don’t think it’s ok to teach, tell others what to do, try to convince why it should be ok and so, like we should respect what others may think about caffeine, non-alcohol beer, decaffenaited coffee, Nestea, music, etc.
    I’m 34, mother of 2, bishop’s wife, loving tankinis, stylish, liking to myself and to my husband, chic and above all, modest.

    • Annie B. says:

      I think extremes in either direction can be harmful, which is the point I made in comments above. When we realize that the very rhetoric that is said to protect our bodies from objectification and sexualization actually objectifies and sexualizes us, it’s time to reassess the basis for them and find a better way. I will definitely teach my daughters respect for their bodies, but not shame.

  32. fred says:

    “I love the way I feel in my bikini. I feel confident and even proud of my body despite its bulges. I like the way the sun, wind, and water feel on my skin. And I feel myself in a bikini.”

    Feelings…don’t matter. It’s not about…you. Grow up and put your clothes back on.

    • Amelia says:

      Feelings don’t matter. It’s not about you. Grow up and respect others’ right to make their own decisions.

  33. Rose says:

    I believe a woman is never responsible for what goes through a mans head when he sees her, no matter what she is or isn’t wearing. No girl should believe she has to cover up because it will make it hard for boys to keep their thoughts clean. That is the his and only his responsibility. Women shouldn’t have to change the way that they dress so men can feel comfortable. Men should stop sexualizing women’s bodies and control their thoughts and actions. The idea that it’s a women’s responsibility to cover up in order for men to control their minds perpetrates rape culture.

    • Andrew R. says:

      Agreed it is always the man’s fault he commits sexual sin. Just as leaving your front door unlocked when leaving the house is not an invitation to burglars to come on in and take your things. However, in order to ensure you do not lose your household items I suspect you do in fact lock the front door.

      However, insurance companies do not usually pay up for those that leave their house open for burglary. Just a thought.

      • nrc42 says:

        You might want to pause and think a bit before you compare women to objects, love.

      • Andrew R. says:

        I didn’t I compared an individuals motivations for sin.

        I am not saying that walking around naked is in and of itself an invitation to others to rape, or ever have unclean thoughts. However, if you wish to be safe, wearing some clothing will sure help.

        I have six daughters, I feel they are safer dressed in modest clothing. Nothing can be misconstrued. i agree it shouldn’t be anyway, but we live is a big bad world.

  34. Robin says:

    I realize this is an old post but I just wanted to add that I was not raised in the church, and joined as as a married mother, but my parents taught me the same thing about modesty and boys thoughts. Not that I was necessarily responsible for them, thought It’s not just a Mormon thing

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