Bikinis VS One Pieces: 2 Catholic gals tackle swimsuits

Sister sister! In this post, my sister, Mady, and I talk about why we want to wear two-piece swimsuits but you'll still find us on the beach this summer in a one-piece.  Check out our thoughts on bikinis! 

Summer is around the corner and the beach is calling our name! Mady, my sister, is interning at Disney World in Florida and at the end of the month, Joseph and I are going to fly down and spend a long weekend with her.  We'll ride roller coasters (this will be my first time in an amusement park - I know, I know), and spend a day at the beach.

  Mady in Disney World 

  Mady in Disney World 

I'll be packing my suit case soon, and a lot of thought is going into what I'm packing - mostly because our airline will charge us for a suitcase, so I'm bound and determined to get it all into my carry-on backpack.  Right now I'm deciding on a good book to read at the beach - since my biggest fear is fish, I probably won't be spending much time in the water.  But if I'm being honest with you, the hardest decision about packing is what swimsuit will be going in the bag. 

Every year I've been in a one-piece swimsuit. I've also been known to wear sports shorts over my swimsuit bottoms for some extra coverage. But this year I'm more confident in my body than I've ever been before, which has been a long journey.  I'm not the only one - both Mady and I are feelin' the urge to buy a two-piece suit. Because we grew up wearing only one piece suits, this is something totally new for us.  So we started doing on some research not on what two piece we would look best in, but whether it would be best to even reach for one. 

We started off with some writings of Saint Pope John Paul II.  An expert on human dignity, we knew he'd have something good to say about modesty. 

"If then we wish to pass moral judgement on a particular form of dress we have to start from the particular functions which they serve. When a person uses such a form of dress in accordance with its objective function we cannot claim to see anything immodest in it, even if it involves partial nudity.  Whereas the use of the costume outside its proper context is immodest and is inevitably felt to be so. For example, there is nothing immodest about the use of a bathing costume at a bathing place, but to wear it in the street or while out for a walk is contrary to the dictates of modesty" (Love and Responsibility, 191-192). 

The first question we had to ask ourselves was what the function of a swimsuit was - which basically boils down to beach activities.  Swimming, beach walking, etc. Mady tipped me off to this podcast and, in it, two priests also discuss the functionality of a swimsuit. 

"I  think a lot of it has to do with the purpose of the suit. Swim suits are for swimming, but for a lot of bikinis and even one pieces, swimming is not even an option without the risk of falling out of the suit. So those are immodest because they violate the identity of a swimsuit." - Mady 

Mady's right - I've often been discouraged by what passes for a one piece suit these days. Sometimes two pieces can cover more than one. Instead of functioning in their purpose, the suits you'll see out in stores or on the beach today fit the description of 'minimalist.' They use minimal fabric to provide minimal coverage.  

Can some two pieces swimsuits fulfill their functional purpose without being minimalist? Mady thinks so, and so do I. 

"Can some two pieces be modest? I think so. Tankinis, rash guards, and halter tops all can be functional for swimming - their created purpose. Is it immodest if a few inches of skin show? I don't think so. As long as the woman's intention is pure - to go swimming, not to show off her body - she is fine." - Mady

So we took to the task of finding two piece swimsuits that were functional for swimming and not displaying our bodies.  We scoured Pinterest and found our favorites. And although all the suits we like are reminiscent of 90's Jazzercise outfits or granny-panties, we are head over heels for them.  

What about that little bit of gap between the top and the bottom? Could someone be led to lust over the gap between a high-neck top and high-waist bottoms? Even if so, a 1" or 2" exposed tummy isn't a fair determinant or argument against functionality - after all, some people are turned on by feet, but that doesn't mean that we can't go around barefoot on the beach. 


But neither of us are going to buy one for this summer and our beach adventure together. Even though we really, really want to. 

Why? It's a heart issue. 

It is not that these two pieces show too much  - it reveals too little.  Saint Pope John Paul II wrote extensively on the subject of modesty in his Theology of the Body discussions.  A bikini does not reveal a woman's worth as a daughter of God.  It does not reveal her brilliant mind, beautiful heart and eternal soul.  It reveals only her body - and that is not nearly close enough to describing who she is as a child of God.

Despite the attractiveness of a two-piece swimsuit, or how summer-ready our bodies are for the beach, we aren't defined by how 'hot,' 'fit', or 'attractive' we would look in a two piece. Our figure is not our greatest accomplishment. How sun-kissed (or, in our case, sun burned) we look at the end of the summer and where the tan lines fall is not the sum of our being. 

We are more than just our bodies and we are more than the tone of our skin - regardless and despite what society screams at us from advertisements, billboards and get-fit-quick ten day programs on Facebook.  

Bikinis are not helping any of us (regardless of gender) get closer to God or Heaven.

"It comes down to 'I'm going to help my brothers out by not showing anything revealing.' As Christians, we are called to love one another, and that means sacrifice. So do you love your fellow Christian enough to buy a less revealing swimsuit? Can you sacrifice your desires to not lead them into what might be a near occasion of sin? Love is putting another before yourself, and if you can't wear a more modest swimsuit for another, what's that saying about your heart?" - Mady 

Wearing a two-piece isn't a 'guys issue' or a 'women's issue.' Helping each other to Heaven is a human issue. The problem concerning the blatant objectification of women in the fashion industry and the world in general was never solved by pointing fingers and blaming people.  We should be viewing our interactions with others as a way to help each other to Heaven.  It needs to be a mutual endeavor, and finding ways to place blame will not help the situation improve.

Mady and I aren't saying 'no' to the two-piece because we think we are ugly.  In fact, all women are beautiful because we are defined by the Father's love for us. So if we're beautiful, why cover our bodies?  Not because our bodies are horrible.  We're wearing one pieces again this summer because we want people at the pool, or our fellow beach goers, to see us and appreciate us not for our bodies alone, but for our identities as children of God.  

Does Mady and I's love of a high waisted two piece swimsuit mean that we're leaning towards a modern view?  Or does the fact that we will still spend the summer in one-pieces mean that we're old souls? You decide how this post is tagged - so go ahead and vote!

What are you plans for swimwear this summer? Let us know in the comments. 

Are Mady and I's thoughts about bikinis old fashioned or modern? *