Paparazzi and Flashing
If we thought the bikini was dead, or even tired, we were wrong. In the latter part of the first decade of the 21st Century the bikini is alive, well, and a mainstay. Nowhere more so than the Internet is it great advocator, with dozens of websites devoted to stars, starlets, models, and "attention whores." For every person feeling bad about the hordes of paparazzi documenting the antics of thousands of celebrities, there is another person, a press or publicity agent, attempting to make sure their celebrity gets digitally captured and distributed to the maximum number of websites. It's the old PR game, but with a new twist.
Of the new crop of actresses, singers, models, and party girls one one can pick many to document the stasis--and change--in the bikini. Candidates are many and include singer Britney Spears, professional celebrity Paris Hilton, and actress Lindsay Lohan (LAA674), whose full breasts and a very deep pelvis combines older silhouettes with a new figure..
Besides bikinis, this new crop of media personalities must also be considered in a post-Pamela Anderson environment. And by this we mean an environment where not only taking off ones clothes, but also having sex on camera, is an intimacy that is shared with one's fans. More cunningly, it is an act which also involves a plausible deniability. Like the Anderson hardcore videos, the Paris Hilton hardcore video of the earlier part of decade purports to be a private tape, stolen or given to the press without the consent of its participants. True or not, this illicitness only adds to the passions of the voyeur.
Closely related to the the voyeur videos of the era are a spat of celebrity flashings, again lead by Britney Spears and echoed by Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. This is the edge of the envelope in 2006, as these and other personalities are captured getting out of cards "commando"--that is, without wearing panties so that their bare (and obviously shaven) private parts are fully visible. Certainly in the past accidental exposures have been a part of the genre of celebrity, but these have been usually confined to breasts (e.g., Jayne Mansfield with Sophia Loren) , butts, and whale tails (exposures of the tops of tanga underwear). The "vagflash" phenomena is however a sociological indicator of special importance because it expands exposures to the final frontier, the female sexual organs themselves.
New Bikini Silhouettes
New bikini silhouettes are rare, and few are to be found, unless you include the increasingly small, or microkinis. Familiar examples include a diamond and platinum bikini that covers next to nothing (MSA610), nipple shields from Burning Man (FFA68W), a microkini documented in the wikipedia (FKA848), at a bikini contest (SQA670), and another spotted at a hotel swimming pool (IXA8R0BS).
One new significant silhouette is the teardrop silhouette, in which a vertical patch of cloth is suspended from a center string to cover the crotch and separate patches cover the breasts (SQA671, ZTA741). The teardrop brief with a center ring works equally well for females (YSA850BS) as well as guys (). The vertical patches across the breasts have some history (e.g., the slingshot YSA820BS), but the incorporation of the teardrop bottom into a slingshot maillot is a striking inovation (FRA510, YSA835BS).
It is uncertain how much of the micro craze is a novelty phenomenia and how much is prescent. Some of the ideas, like this adhesive microkini sideless advance existing species (WMA7CH), but several manufacturers, including Wicked Temptations, Skin Bikini, Tanga Land, Sublime Bikinis, The-Bikini.com, Nasty Diva, Nixxxe, Doubletake Microwear, and Wicked Weasle market lines of swimwear that appear, to contemporary standards, to be extreme on the beach. These include descigns such as a "no coverage bikini" which consists of a (nippless) soutien gorge with an O-ring around the nipple and an O-ring single strap culotte, with one strap around the waist and a second strap bisecting the crotch (ZTA730, ATA752).
Other variations of this new extreme introduce patch designs, in which a triangle top or g-string eliminates half of the cloth of a top and bottom (ZTA710), and cage designs, which eliminate all the cloth and provide the bikiniite with only strings (YSA845BS, YSA850BS). Sometimes it is impossible to discern if the micro-bikinis are marketed primarily to "dancers," for wearing at the backyard pool, or are intended to be worn on the beach (FRA520). But before one rejects the more extreme notions, one must remember that, as a revolutionaly fashion, the bikini has always challenged conventional morality and attitudes toward exposure, and that the micros certainly achieve that, especially when worn in public.
Equally important is that the micros bring to Bikini Science a new burst of bikini language. The Invisible Bikini is the Emperor's New Clothes (). Mesh and see-through creations cover up, yet reveal. Nipple piercings augment topless (FKA86V).
In a more conservative and high-fashion mode this half-decade has also witnesses innovations that fuse bikinis and maillots in some unusual ways. This Russian maillot appears to combine a maillot half-top and half-halter (RUA843), while this "Nikita bikini" fuses a string halter and side-tie brief into a single costume (MQB098).
The trend of bikinis to be worn in a wider range of locations continues in this first decade of the new century. Athletes, in particular, adopt bare-midriff silhouettes and croptops and shorts become the standard for runners (AWA7-AWA8). Beach volleyball, with its obligatory bikini costume (BVA5AMBS, FKA770BS) becomes an Olympic sport. Competition swimmers adopt deux-pièces; and cheerleaders combine croptops, miniskirts and bare bellies.
Bikinis, or at least partial bikinis, also make their way not only onto the street, the nightclub, and the bar (TGA63T). Variations on bikinis appear at science fiction conventions (GVA710-54BS), parades, and festivals (FFA992). And certain bikini idioms, including posterior rugage, aka the butt crack (TGA7CM), and the whale tail, or showing one's thong above ones jeans (FKA54F, TGA763), acquire main-street currency. So does the low-rise waistline, where there entire top of the panty is visible above the waistline.(TGA47Q), a variation of the layering theme.
The Flickr Factor
By the latter half of the first decade of the new century another source is providing rich input into Bikini Science--the picture-sharing website flickr.com. And among the millions of pictures shared and put into the public domain are thousands of bikini pictures taken by hundreds of photographers from around the world (FAA976). Some are voyeuristic, some are of family and friends, some are professionally shot, and some are self-portraits. But together they are providing a rich and multifaceted view of the world that aids our vision of not just bikinis, but how bikinis are viewed.
Our small sampling includes pictures from the Black Sea to the streets of Tokyo. And pictures of wives, girlfriends (ZLA832BS), family vacations, beach houses, and life in a bikini.