Making Waves: Swimsuits and the Undressing of America

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As this extensive pictorial history vividly chronicles, swimsuits have gauged the ``public undressing of America'' for over a century. More than a fashion statement or a seaworthy garment, the bathing suit has been the impetus behind the psychological dictum that strategic concealment of body parts arouses sexual curiosity. Bathing as sport and therapy had its origins in Greek civilization. The cumbersome European bathing machine made a brief U.S. appearance in the early 19th century. By the 1850s, coed swimming became the norm here, and by the 1900s swimming had developed into a sport. During WW I, beach life acquired a bawdy reputation. A 1913 Ladies' Home Journal editorial, surrounded by photos of bathers, pointedly asked parents, ``How Much of This Do You Want Your Daughter to Share?'' The authors effectively track American economic, social and cultural events through the gradual evolution of the bathing suit. Lencek is a professor of Russian literature at Reed College in Oregon and Bosker, a physician, is the author of Great Shakes. (Apr.)
Library Journal
This is a social history of a perplexing form of attire. Swimsuits developed from ordinary outer and underclothing into a fantasy item that has occasionally been cause for arrest. The authors explore the aesthetic, economic, sexual, and technological milestones in the evolution of the garment. Particularly interesting are the changing ideas of decency, the covering and uncovering of various parts of the anatomy, and the shifting concept of erogenous zones. The book is colorfully illustrated and well researched, but it slights men's swimwear and ignores the feminist viewpoint altogether. Nevertheless, a good companion to Claudia B. Kidwell and Valerie Steele's Man and Women: Dressing the Part ( LJ 6/15/89).-- Daniel J. Lombardo, Jones Lib., Inc., Amherst, Mass.
Booknews
On the design and manufacture of swimwear from 19th century to present day. Includes photos, lithographs, and drawings. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780877013983
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Pages: 144

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