Bikinis have spelled sex since their invention in the 1940s. Now they sell men’s magazines, inspire diligence in dieters, and (evidently) enhance the performance of beach-volleyball players. So in honor of National Bikini Day on July 5 (yes, like National Lipstick Day and National Rubber Eraser Day, it is a thing), we add up the tiny numbers of the bikini’s racy history.
1943: Year in which wartime rationing led the U.S. government to order a 10 percent reduction in the fabric used in women’s swimwear, resulting in a bare midriff and the removal of skirt panels.
3: Number of years later that French engineer Louis Réard invented the official bikini, naming it after Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, where atomic bombs were tested that year.
30: Square inches of fabric he used.
13: Square inches of fabric used to make a thong bikini bottom today.
50,000: Number of fan letters received by French nude dancer Micheline Bernardini (shown below), after she became the first woman to be photographed in a bikini (professional models refused to wear the new design because they deemed it too shocking). As a result of the shoot, Bernardini moved to America to work as an actress.
10: The most common size for a woman wearing a two-piece swimsuit.
80: Percentage of women who try on swimwear and leave the store empty-handed.
$2,625: Starting cost of a Bikini Boot Camp six-night-stay at the Amansala Resort in Tulum, Mexico, including daily body-sculpting sessions.
1948: Year in which bikinis were banned from the Miss America pageant because officials thought they detracted from the competition’s purpose—awarding scholarships.
1997: Year in which bikinis were allowed back in the pageant.
1960: Year in which the song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini” was released.
1965: Year Annette Funicello filmed How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (because she was pregnant, she was shot mostly from the waist up).
1962: Year Ursula Andress wore a belted white bikini in the James Bond Film Dr. No.
$60,000: Amount Andress’s famous white bikini sold for at an auction in 2001.
2002: Year in which Halle Berry wore a similar suit in Die Another Day.
2: Number of weeks it took for Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan to sell out of string bikinis in 1974.
60.4: Percentage of all Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue covers that have featured a model wearing a bikini.
$30 million: Cost of the 150-carat diamond bikini worn by Molly Sims in the 2006 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
1983: Year Carrie Fisher wore a gold bikini as Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi.
$309,206,384: Total box office earnings of the film, making it the highest-grossing of the three original films in the Star Wars trilogy.
1996: Year Jennifer Aniston, as Rachel on Friends, wore a similar gold bikini to fulfill Ross’s fantasy.
1993: Year in which the bikini became the required beach-volleyball uniform for women in the Olympics. According to international ruling, the side of the bikini bottoms had to have a maximum width of 2.5 inches.
__19:__Years later that the International Volleyball Federation dropped the mandatory bikini requirements, allowing players to wear shorts and sleeved tops out of respect for the cultural beliefs of some participating countries.
75: Percentage of women who would rather have a root canal than wear a thong bikini in public.
2015: Year Women’s Health editor in chief (and former Allure beauty director), Amy Keller Laird, banned the term “bikini body” from the magazine.
*Additional reporting by Sophia Panych. *
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