Life’s Better in a Bikini

Life’s better in a bikini

Bikini’s aren’t just for women with perfect bodies. At the beach at my home island every single woman was in a bikini; yes 60-year-old French women in leopard print skimpies, cellulite hanging out for all to see, and you know what? They looked great! The bikini is a wonderful thing, a sun-celebrating piece of freedom. Life is better in a bikini!

Bikinis, as being comforting and empowering, they are just so darn comfortable and practical – at the beach or for fighting dinosaurs.

Raquel Welch
Raquel Welch’s iconic bikini in One Million Years BC

I’ve just finished a three-week-long Book Tour on my home island Réunion with plenty of opportunities to wear my favorite item of clothing. The evolution of the bikini’s design traces the emancipation of women, as a symbol of liberty and confidence, with iconic images of stars like Ursula Andress and Raquel Welch helping to stoke its myth.

“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.”

Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

A History of Sex Appeal

When the bikini was invented by Louis Réard, a French automobile engineer – in a rather atypical career move, no fashion model was willing to wear his revealing design. After some negotiations, he hired 18-year-old nude dancer Micheline Bernardini from the Casino de Paris to present his first bikini to the press at the Piscine Molitor, a popular public pool in Paris.

Micheline Bernardini modeling Louis Réard ‘s first bikini at the Piscine Molitor in Paris, 1946

The bikini was an instant hit; the event – occurring just 4 days after the first Bikini Atoll nuclear tests – were widely carried by the press and Bernadini herself received over 50,000 fan letters! Réard hoped that his swimsuit’s revealing style would create an explosive commercial and cultural reaction, he wasn’t disappointed.

Although the bikini quickly became popular in movies, it took more than 15 years to enter the mainstream of fashion, and longer in many places. France accepted it before several other countries and eventually allowed women to sunbathe or swim topless.

Bikini Etymology

The Bikini atoll, from which the bikini’s name was derived, was originally from German Bikini, the colonial name of the atoll when it was part of German New Guinea, and this was derived from Marshallese Pikinni.

Réard noted in an interview on bikini etymology as saying that he named his new swimwear invention, not just because of the island’s connotation with explosiveness, but because of its associations with pleasure, beauty, and tininess.

How Small is Too Small

Women’s swimwear has, in the past and even today, attracted controversy and impelled societies to legislate or regulate choice and even where the bikini can be freely worn. In 1951 the controversial item was banned following the first Miss World Contest in London and then declared sinful by the Vatican. I’m not sure if the Pope has ever reversed that ruling but today there is a variety of preferred styles depending on where you come from.

A small bikini may not always complement everyone’s body structures, but countries like Brazil where women have fuller figures, are naughtier and tend to show off their body a bit more, love them. In fact, the cheeky Brazilian cut seems to be the norm in South America, and popular in South East Asia too – for tourists at least – and as a general trend it seems that the popularity of this style is very much on the rise.

“A girl in a bikini is like having a loaded gun on your coffee table- There’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s hard to stop thinking about.”

Garrison Keillor

The Brazilian bikini cut is my favorite style; in Réunion, it is probably the most popular style that you see on the beach here; the style is fun and sexy and more attractive than the thong-style swimsuits that were common in the ’90s.

Oh, and those thong-suits, they weren’t just for women either; there was a period here when man-thongs were a common sight, and while women’s suits have tended to constantly evolve smaller, men’s beach fashion here has grown bigger, and become more ‘Americanized’ with surf shorts now being de rigeur.

The Brazilian, very cheeky!

Another advantage of going small is of course, the smaller your bikinis are, the easier they are to pack!

How to Put on a Bikini

How to put on a bikini? It sounds like a silly question, but putting on a bikini can be a little tricky if there isn’t much fabric to work with. Bikinis are meant to bare a lot of skin but your bikini bottoms shouldn’t sag or droop, and they also shouldn’t cut into your skin and cause bulging. If it’s a string bikini make sure the knots are tied tight!

Reunion Island

If any of you have got here and are wondering exactly where Réunion Island is located, perhaps it’s worth me pointing it out. Réunion Island, or in French ‘Ile de la Réunion’, is a smallish island situated east of Madagascar and about 175 km southwest of Mauritius. It’s a volcanic island, like Hawaii – but only 5% of the size – with a mountainous interior and a population of about 1 million people. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s not unusual, its typically only known by sailors and stamp-collectors.

Réunion Island, Cap Mechant

The island, apart from the climate allowing a bikini to be a year-round fashion item, is famous for a number of things including the first Euro Transaction, occasional – but very heavy rain. and one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

First Euro Transaction

Réunion Island’s geographical position – as the most easterly part of the Eurozone – made it the first European territory to handle the new Euro currency when it was introduced in 2002. At three seconds past midnight, the Mayor of the region’s capital purchased a kilo of lychees after a brief barter with a local stallholder.

Rainfall in Réunion

And rainfall, for the most part, Réunion Island has a mild tropical climate – it doesn’t rain much – but it is in the hurricane belt (or here, cyclone belt) and when it rains, oh boy, it rains. Réunion has set a number of records for highest rainfall measured including the official 24-hour rainfall record (1,825 mm or 71.85”) at Foc-Foc during a tropical storm in 1952 and the 48-hour rainfall record (2,467 mm or 97.13”) at Cilaos, which has sadly – or happily – now been beaten.


Piton de la Fournaise, or Furnace Peak in English, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world (along with Kīlauea in the Hawaiian Islands, Stromboli, and Etna in Italy and Mount Erebus in Antarctica). The volcano is a major tourist attraction and offers some excellent hiking and scenery.

Piton de la Fournaise, last eruption 25 October 2019

I haven’t seen it erupt since I was a child and *** breaking news *** it erupted the day I left!

Why do Women Wear Bikinis

Getting back to the main point of this article, it’s obviously more normal that one wears fewer clothes in hot countries but, at the end of the day women are women and want to be comfortable, look beautiful, and feel feminine. For me, life is better in a bikini, they do all that and are practical, versatile, part of my French Islander heritage, and definitely part of my wardrobe.

Life’s better in a bikini, Your Quest is to find out if wearing them makes you happy too.

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Joanne Reed The Author
Author of "This is Your Quest". You can't buy happiness but you can buy books. Your mission, should you wish to accept it is to experience happiness

23 replies on “Life’s Better in a Bikini”

I totally agree – I wish I had worn bikinis much more when I was younger, but now I don’t care what people think and I wear it regardless. Awesome for gardening in hot weather. Amazing how many complements you get from men – they are just grateful to see skin. LOL!! :o)

I really enjoyed reading your bikini post and especially loved the quotes. This is inspiring for me. I am not comfortable in my body and have not worn a bikini in public probably since I was 17. I have been wanting to, but have been feeling too self conscious. Maybe someday I will be brave especially now that I live in Hawaii and it is always swim suit weather!

❤ Alana

Aloha🏝 ! Thank you so much for your comment it really fills me with joy to think that this article can in a small way make women feels more confident. You are in the perfect location (Hawaii 🏝) to wear the most comfortable clothing item. I say ‘Go for it’ !



Ah I loved your perspective and the research you did for this post! Wow 1946 wasn’t even that long ago. Personally, I do not think bikinis are right. Society has instilled this norm now that if you don’t wear a bikini, you’re probably insecure about your body or something which is not true. If I have a nice body, why would I want to show it off to random men and women in public? To me, it’s almost like wearing a bra and underwear and somehow having sand instead of grass under your feet makes the difference. I don’t find revealing too much skin empowering especially that it was a man who created the bikini. And in terms of the weather, light and baggy clothing like dresses cools the body much more than sun directly hitting the skin but that’s just my take on it. I loved reading this though and I absolutely love your writing style. 😍💗 Have a great day!!

En 1946, bien que Louis Réard soit un ingénieur, il gère la boutique de sa mère « Les Folies Bergère » à Paris.
Ces années là, Louis Réard et Jacques Heim sont des concepteurs rivaux, en compétition pour créer le plus petit maillot de bain au monde.
En 1932, Jacques Heim développe son maillot de bain et l’appelle « atome » en annonçant que c’est « le plus petit maillot de bain ».
En 1946, Louis Réard présente le bikini. Son maillot de bain est essentiellement un soutien-gorge à deux triangles de tissu inversés, reliées par des cordes, et il est nettement plus petit que l’« atome ».
Il commercialise sa création avec la phrase « plus petit que le maillot de bain le plus petit au monde ». Il appelle sa création le bikini, d’après l’atoll Bikini. L’idée lui est venue en regardant les femmes retrousser leurs vêtements de plage pour obtenir un meilleur bronzage…
Et, avec le droit de vote accordé en 1944 (ordonnance signée le 21 avril 1944, par le général De Gaulle), l’émancipation de la femme française pouvait se poursuivre…
Ce Louis, un « sacré numéro ! ». A French boy at the forefront !

En ces temps délicats, prends bien soin de toi Joanne…
Affectueuses pensées et bisous ensoleillés d’Auvergne. <3

Merci Louis pour ces informations et precisions historiques! Un sujet fascinant! Qui aurait dit qu’il y a une connection entre “Les Folies Bergères ” , “L’atome” 🏝 Le Bikini 👙, l’ordonnancement du 21 avril 1944 et Louis Reard?! Les Louis semblent être très créatifs! 🤔 Stay safe, strong and healthy. Affectueuses pensées de 🇰🇷

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