Words by Ellen Apswoude
We’ve come a long way from 1907, when Annette Kellerman got in hot water for wearing a one-piece swimsuit in public. The garment, which had a scoop neck and cap sleeves was so controversial it got Kellerman arrested. While the neckline and bare arms weren’t everyone’s cup of tea, what really riled people up was that her swimsuit ended in shorts above her knees. Onlookers clutched their pearls, and scandal ensued. As a result, Kellerman, a record-breaking swimmer who had been dubbed ‘The Original Mermaid’, became a trailblazer for women’s freedom and autonomy.
But, things didn’t change overnight, and women continued with their ‘indecent’ antics, and ‘immoral’ swimwear. On a Chicago beach in 1922, a woman was arrested for daring to wear a two-piece swimsuit in public. You can see from the image below that the rowdy swimmer’s attire is pretty conservative by today’s standards.
In today’s age of designer swimwear, the literal policing of women’s fashion is mostly non-existent. However, despite our progress, there’s still plenty of judgement to go around. But rather than give in to those ideas of what modern modesty is, we’d prefer to shatter them, by giving women an opportunity to feel confident, sexy, and in charge. We’re doing this with Inch Bikini, a brand-new collection of delightfully dangerous, micro-bikinis. To celebrate the upcoming launch of Inch Bikini, and the opening of our mailing list and Instagram, we’ve compiled a list of the most scandalous bikinis and the women who dominate them.
Ana Braga is the ultimate tiny bikini icon. The Brazilian model owns her micro-bikinis and wears them the only way they can be worn; with unrivalled confidence. Braga, a Playboy model, is known for her daring beach wear, and often stuns in vibrant colours and even frills.
It makes sense that Braga is Brazilian. The country is renowned for its one of a kind beach culture. Brazil is also famous for its love of small bikinis, and in particular, tiny bikini bottoms. Coming from a country where butts are beloved, and tan lines are a fashion statement, it’s no surprise that Braga has taken her Brazilian flair to the United States, and the pages of Playboy.
What’s amazing about Braga’s style is the fearless confidence she brings to every look. She loves her body, and she isn’t afraid to show it.
Even at 49 years old, Jennifer Lopez is still Jenny from the Block. The musician, actress, and all around boss, recently celebrated her 49th birthday by showing the world she still has the same killer abs, and same tiny bikinis as she did in the 90s.
While J-Lo is most famous for her musical talent, acting prowess, and fashion and perfume lines, she also has one other attribute that people know her for. Before Kim Kardashian wowed the world with her curves and her butt, J-Lo held the mantle of America’s Favourite Booty. It was so famous that Sir-Mix-a-Lot wrote his famous hip hop anthem ‘Baby’s Got Back’ with Lopez in mind.
What we love about J-Lo is that she frequently shows the world age is just a number. Risqué swimwear isn’t just for young women anymore, and Lopez is the poster-woman for mature sex appeal. Even as a mother in her 40s, she continues to be fierce, proud, and bold, and there are no signs she’s slowing down any time soon.
Emily Ratajkowski has often been outspoken about her body, and women’s bodies in general. In an essay called ‘Baby Woman’ she wrote about how as a 12-year-old girl with D cup breasts, she was always told she had to hide away, because her body and her sexuality made her a target. Instead, Ratajkowski did the opposite. Now she’s a world-famous supermodel, actress, and even has her own line of swimwear. She is in charge of her own body and she wears her scandalously small bikinis with defiant confidence.
In her essay, Ratajkowski described her journey to finding this confidence, and ditching the shame that women can feel when they look like her. “I hear the voices reminding me not to send the wrong message. And what is that message exactly? The implication is that to be sexual is to be trashy because being sexy means playing into men's desires. To me, "sexy" is a kind of beauty, a kind of self-expression, one that is to be celebrated, one that is wonderfully female.”
Ratajkowski isn’t giving the haters and nay-sayers an inch. She’s standing her ground and embracing her sexiness, and her dangerous side, in her own way, on her own terms.
Stefania Ferrario is an Australian model, who fully embodies the courageous, risqué, and dangerous spirit of Inch Bikini. She has modelled for Dita Von Teese’s lingerie line, and the burlesque queen has described Ferrario as “a cross between Marilyn Monroe and baby Brigitte Nielson”. Ferrario is fearless as a model, and isn’t scared to step out in daring swimwear.
Ferrario isn’t as petite as Emily Ratajkowski, or Ana Braga, but swimwear isn’t just for one kind of body. It really is something everyone can enjoy. All women should be able to don a scandalous swimsuit and step out feeling powerful and flawless.
Ferrario is also notable for her #droptheplus campaign, which aimed to remove some of the stigma from models who weren’t traditional sizes. The purpose of the campaign was to introduce the idea of removing the term ‘plus size’ for models who were over a US size 4. While the term is still in use, Ferrario made a big statement, and continues to do so in her small swimwear.
What stands out so much about Ferrario’s modelling is the range she presents to the world. In one photoshoot, she’s a stone-cold fox, statuesque and unattainable, and in the next, she’s easy-going, with a glowing smile and not a care in the world. She lets so much of her personality into her work, and as a result destroys the idea that a woman can only be one thing. She can be strong and still be feminine, and she can be sexy and still have confidence and self-respect.
If you needed more proof that a scantily bikini can be worn by anyone, Brenna Huckaby is the perfect example. Huckaby is a 2-time Paralympic gold medal snowboarder, and ESPY award winner. She is also a mother, a cancer survivor, an amputee, and a boss. Huckaby recently featured in Sports Illustrated’s 2018 Swimsuit Edition in a bikini so tiny, we couldn’t help but add it to our list.
Huckaby is an amazing representation of the sexy confidence Inch Bikini is all about. She doesn’t have the traditional bikini body, but what she does have is so much better. She’s gutsy, has a tenacious spirit, and two gold medals; what more could you ask for?
On top of all her athletic achievements, Huckaby is also the first Paralympian and the first amputee to make an appearance in Sports Illustrated.
But Huckaby wasn’t always so confident. It took her a while to realise her own beauty, strength, and worth. “It wasn’t until I had my daughter that I realised my body was more than an object. That was the moment I knew my body was a tool, a strong and forceful tool that takes me from experience to experience. Once I realised this I finally loved my body.” But those weren’t the only inspirational words Huckaby shared with Cosmopolitan. She also gave the following advice to other women struggling with their confidence. “Know that you are a force. Don’t be afraid to push yourself and get yourself out there.”
There are few fashionistas, or swimsuit wearers more famous, and well known than Kim K. And while we love her day-to-day looks, we want to focus on the times she changed up the game and made real waves. For us, those times are when she rocked her little bikinis while pregnant. Kardashian was frequently ridiculed in the media for the way her body looked while she was pregnant, and the weight she had gained, and was even compared to a whale after her appearance at the 2013 Met Gala.
But despite the criticism, Kardashian put on her tiny bikini bottoms and ignored the body-shaming.
Kardashian has been open about how difficult, and painful her pregnancies have been, which is what makes her choice to step out in her favourite bikinis so next level. Aside from the rising popularity of MILFs, mothers don’t really get represented as what they are; regular women who want to feel just as sexy, confident, and dangerous as anyone else.
Kardashian faced similar body-shaming during her second pregnancy. But it didn’t stop her from living her life exactly how she wanted to, and showing that a pregnant body is just as worthy of being flaunted and adored as any other.
We’ve obviously come a long way from the days of being arrested on beaches for our fashion choices, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t further we can go. It’s time to enter the danger zone, and embrace our sexy, risky, and defiant sides. Well behaved women rarely make history, so act up, and be remembered. Whip out your micro-bikini and show them what you’re made of.