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Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenies


Itsy Bitsy Teeni Weenies by Eva PascoNo intentions of stringing you along, the yellow polka dotted tag line given to the change in sexual attitudes and behavior during the Sixties was the beach blanket phrase: “sexual revolution” – bingo! A liberal government, economic prosperity, the Cold War mushroom cloud looming above our heads over nuclear annihilation may have had little to do with America’s transformation of sexual attitudes. Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon had nothin’ on LBJ-- President Lyndon Baines Johnson!   


That’s right. If you hitherto ascribed to the theory our 36th played a role in JFK’s assassination, you’d be more accurate to accredit or blame him for jumpstarting the sexual revolution. He was the first prez to endorse birth control. That little pill aided and abetted the feminist movement which articulated dissatisfaction with the traditional roles of women, furthermore endorsing the enjoyment of sex which became more socially acceptable outside the bonds of matrimony. Needless to say, as more women bared their birthday suits, other suits began to unravel. Two, three, four, stick around I’ll tell you more…  


Before Brian Hyland’s babe watch from the locker to the blanket, from the blanket to the shore, from the shore to the water routine, bikinis were still viewed as too risqué to become mainstream in America. At the time, most bathing beauties covered their assets with suits that were more of a fashion statement about color, design, and fabric as opposed to flashing flesh. Truth be known, swimsuits had been shrinking since World War II when a male-dominated government, in 1943, ordered a 10 per cent reduction in fabric used in women’s swimwear. So, off went the skirt panel, and out came the bare midriff without further debate or filibuster.  


When Louis Reard designed a skimpy, two-piece suit in 1945, but was hard-pressed to come up with a name for this bombshell, US military men coined a “fitting” name in conjunction with exploding a nuclear device near several small islands in the Pacific, known as the “Bikini Atoll”. It took a navel operation to come up with “bikini”! It just didn’t make the cut in America yet, torn to metaphorical shreds under the guise of modesty by the Catholic League of Decency who also watched every movie they rated X. 


Va Va Voom! The bikini became such an integral part of French actress, Brigitte Bardot's career, she earned the moniker, “Bikini Girl”. Across the pond in America, let it be said Brian Hyland is our “Bikini Boy,” having popularized and immortalized the skimpy suit with his song, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” (1960). The song is credited for a surge in bikini sales, as well as inspiring surf & sand movies starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon which scantily covered the Sixties: Beach Party (1963) followed by a bikini string of Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, and Pajama Party (1964); Beach Blanket Bingo, Ski Party, and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1966). 


Spin this on your gentle wash cycle—in 1964, the two-piece became a fixture on dormitory walls around the country with Babette March’s appearance on Sports Illustrated’s first swimsuit cover photograph. 


As the tide of sexual revolution surged in the Sixties, one must flesh out whether the bikini fostered women’s liberation or male exploitation. Taken with a few grains of sea salt, the bikini wasn’t the only popular, yellow, itsy bitsy teenie weenie. Let’s not forget the No. 2 Ticonderoga pencil, prevalent in classrooms around the country, an implement wielded by sharp witted students who eventually wore them down to a nub. Bop, bop, bop, bop, badop, bop, bop-bop-bop! Guess there isn’t any more.




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