Behind the Swimsuit. Another History of the Body
Original title: Les dessous du maillot de bain. Une autre histoire du corps
The swimsuit is hardly taken seriously. However, it took a lot of hard work to get to where it is today. A world-renowned specialist dives into the cultural and political history of the body and the female emancipation through what seems at first an anodyne garment.
Bathing has transformed the seaside, the thalassotherapy centers, and the swimming pools into places of female emancipation. On the other hand, the body made public suffers new restrictions imposed by advertising, industry, and a renewed male domination.
Bikini, monokini, trikini, burkini or facekini, the bathing suit has become an eminently political piece of clothing because society has not devolved the same rights to female and male clothing. The authorizations and prohibitions’ steps forward and backward, around the swimsuit, reveal the symbolic significance of this piece of fabric, in which power is genuinely at stake.
While going through the bathing suit, we rediscover the history of gender, as well as a history of water and the public sphere, of bathing and hygiene, linked to medicalization and science, of fashion trends and technological textiles advances.
- Longlisted for the Prix Renaudot 2022