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Bikini

Bikini

ETHNONYMS: Escholtz Islands

Bikini is the largest of the twenty-six islands in the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Bikini is the northernmost atoll in the Ratak chain of atolls and islands and is located at 11° 31 N and 165° 34 E. The twenty-six islands have a total land area of 7.6 square kilometers and surround a large lagoon some 641 square kilometers in area. Bikini has drawn considerable attention since the relocation of the 161 resident Bikinians in 1946 so that the atoll could be used as a test site for atomic and nuclear weapons by the U.S. government. Because of radiation contamination from the tests, Bikini is uninhabitated today and will probably remain so for some years. Bikinians today number over 400 and live elsewhere in the Marshall Islands, mainly on Kili. Bikinian identity is based on rights to ownership of land on Bikini that are inherited from ancestors.

Bikini was settled before 1800 possibly by people migrating from Wotje Atoll. Because of the island's relative isolation, Bikinians had little contact with other peoples in the Marshalls. First contact with Europeans was evidently in 1824 with the Russian explorer Otto von Kotzebue, although no European actually settled on Bikini until after 1900. The first American missionary arrived in 1908 and Bikinians were drawn into the copra trade during the German colonial period, which ended with World War I. The Japanese ruled the Marshalls from World War I to World War II, and they established a base on Bikini during World War II. After the war, the Marshalls became a Trust Territory of the U.S. and achieved independence in 1986.

Because of its isolation and the large lagoon, Bikini Atoll was selected by the U.S. government as the site for testing the effects of atomic bombs on naval vessels. This decision led to negotiations with the Bikinians and their agreeing to relocate to Rongerik Island in 1946. When this site proved inadequate, they relocated again to Kwajalein Island in 1948 and then Kili later in 1948, where most remained, although some also settled on Kwajalein and Jaluit. An organized attempt was made by the Department of the Interior to develop the Kili community economically, an effort that met with limited success.

From 1946 to 1957, twenty-three atomic and nuclear tests were conducted at Bikini. In 1968, Bikini was declared habitable by the U.S. government and 100 Bikinians had returned by 1974, though the island was now barren of much of the vegetation that had existed when they left in 1946. When tests in 1978 showed unacceptably high levels of strontium 90 radiation in Bikinians on the island, the island was declared uninhabitable and the people relocated again to Kili. As compensation for the loss of their land, the Bikinians were awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in 1956 by the United States. Some payments went to individuals while others were used to establish a trust fund for the entire community. These payments have made Bikinians, along with people from Enewetak, Rongelap, Utirik, and Kwajalein who also received compensation, wealthier than other Marshall Islanders. The payments also made the Bikinians economically dependent on income from the trust fund and contributed to an erosion of participation in prerelocation economic pursuits such as taro and copra production. Relocation also changed traditional patterns of social and political organization. On Bikini, rights to land and landownership were the major factor in social and political organization and leadership. Also, the Bikinians, as Marshall Islanders, were under the nominal control of the Paramount Chief of the islands, though actual contact with other islands was minimal. After relocation and settlement on Kili, a dual system of land tenure emerged, with disbursements of interest from the trust fund linked to landownership on Bikini and a separate system reflecting current land tenure on Kili influencing current political alliances and leadership. Regular contact with the U.S. government led the Bikinians to reject the primacy of the Paramount Chief and instead to look to U.S. government officials for support and assistance.

See also Marshall Islands

Bibliography

Kiste, Robert C. (1974). The Bikinians: A Study in Forced Migration. Menlo Park, Calif.: Cummings Publishing Co.

Mason, Leonard (1954). "Relocation of the Bikini Marshalese: A Study in Group Migration." Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University.

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Bikini

Bikini

During World War II (193945) the United States government directed that the amount of cloth in women's beachwear be reduced by 10 percent to conserve fabric which was needed in the war effort. As a result swimsuit manufacturers produced suits featuring bare midriffs. Such garments, however, were downright conventional when compared to what was to come right after the war, with the invention of the bikini: a skimpy, two-piece bathing suit consisting of a bra top and two reversed cloth triangles attached by a string.

The bikini was devised separately but simultaneously in 1946 by two Frenchmen, Louis Réard (18971984) and Jacques Heim (19001967). Réard, an engineer, named his creation after Bikini, a Pacific Ocean atoll, a string of coral islands, where the United States government was testing nuclear bombs. Heim, a clothing designer, named his version atome, the French word for atom, and announced that it was the world's smallest bathing suit. Réard countered his competitor by calling the bikini smaller than the world's smallest bathing suit. Both parts of his suit consisted of only thirty inches of fabric. It was in fact so tiny that no French model would wear it in public. A nude dancer finally agreed to be photographed wearing one. After a picture of her in Réard's bikini was published, she received close to fifty thousand fan letters.

At first the bikini was considered risqué and was even banned in beauty pageants and on many European beaches. Its rise in popularity was directly linked to its being worn by attractive young movie actresses. British actress Diana Dors (19311984) wore a mink bikini at the 1955 Venice Film Festival, and American stars Marilyn Monroe (19261962) and Jayne Mansfield (19321967) were photographed in them in the 1950s. The 1950s screen icon who most famously put on the bikini was Brigitte Bardot (1934), a French movie star. Bardot wore it on the French Riviera and in the film Et Dieu céa la femme (1956), also known as And God Created Woman.

The bikini was not worn on American beaches until the 1960s, when its rise as an acceptable mode of swimwear was linked to popular culture. First, pop singer Brian Hyland (1943) celebrated the bikini with his hit song, "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" (1960). The lyrics depicted a woman, wearing a bikini for the first time, who was "afraid to come out of the water" because she was embarrassed by her scanty attire. A couple of years later, it was boldly worn by Ursula Andress (1936) in Dr. No (1962), the first James Bond movie. Bikinis then became the favored attire in a cycle of popular, teen-oriented sun-and-surf movies, beginning with Beach Party (1963). The word even was worked into the titles of a number of these films: Bikini Beach (1964); How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965); Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965); The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966); and It's a Bikini World (1967). Raquel Welch (1942) wore a fur bikini playing a cavewoman in One Million Years B.C. (1966). By then the bikini was fast becoming a basic beach outfit.

Women favored bikinis because of their stylishness and the liberating nature of their design; wearing them provided women the opportunity to publicly display their bodies. Men liked bikinis because they showed off more of the female body.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Alac, Patrick. The Bikini: A Cultural History. London, England: Parkstone Press, 2002.

Baker, Patricia. Fashions of a Decade: The 1940s. New York: Facts on File, 1992.

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Bikini

Bikini (bēkē´nē), atoll, c.2 sq mi (5.2 sq km), W central Pacific, one of the Ralik Chain, Marshall Islands. It comprises 36 islets on a reef 25 mi (40 km) long. After its inhabitants were removed (1946) to Rongerik, Bikini was the scene of 23 U.S. atomic and hydrogen bomb tests (1946–58). The natives were transferred from Rongerik to Ujelang in 1947 and in 1949 were resettled on Kili. Bikini was declared safe for habitation in 1969. In 1974, 100 natives returned, but they were evacuated in 1978 when new data showed high levels of residual radioactivity. A cleanup began in 1988. By the late 1990s, Bikini had become a popular destination for scuba divers, though it remained uninhabited pending completion of the cleanup. Bikini was formerly called Escholtz Island.

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Bikini

Bikini an atoll in the Marshall Islands, in the western Pacific, used by the US between 1946 and 1958 as a site for testing nuclear weapons.

The bikini as a two-piece swimsuit for women was so named because of the supposed ‘explosive’ effect created by the garment.


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bikini

bi·ki·ni / biˈkēnē/ • n. (pl. -nis ) a very brief two-piece swimsuit for women. ∎  (also bi·ki·nis) scanty underpants.

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bikini

bikiniAnnie, ca'canny, canny, cranny, Danny, fanny, granny, nanny, tranny •Ariadne, Evadne •daphne •Agni, Cagney •acne, Arachne, hackney •hootenanny •Afghani, ani, Armani, Azerbaijani, Barney, biriani, blarney, Carney, frangipani, Fulani, Galvani, Giovanni, Hindustani, Killarney, maharani, Mbabane, Modigliani, Omani, Pakistani, Rafsanjani, Rajasthani, rani, sarnie •McCartney •antennae, any, Benny, blenny, Dene, fenny, jenny, Kenny, Kilkenny, Lenny, many, penne, penny, Rennie •catchpenny • pinchpenny •pyrotechny •Bahraini, brainy, Chaney, Eugénie, grainy, Janey, Khomeini, rainy, veiny, waney, zany •halfpenny, shove-halfpenny, twopenny-halfpenny •Athene, bambini, beanie, Bellini, Bernini, bikini, Boccherini, Borromini, capellini, catenae, Cellini, Cherubini, Cyrene, Fellini, fettuccine, genie, greeny, grissini, Heaney, Houdini, Jeanie, linguine, martini, Mazzini, meanie, Mussolini, Mycenae, Paganini, Panini, porcini, Puccini, queenie, Rossellini, Rossini, Santoríni, Selene, sheeny, spaghettini, Sweeney, teeny, teeny-weeny, tortellini, Toscanini, Trini, tweeny, wahine, weeny, zucchini •monokini

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