Why women in India bathe in clothes and not bikinis

The question is actually a bit complicated and first requires a couple of clarifications. Firstly, we are talking about Indian women, and not about those who came to this country on vacation. And secondly, in fact, in some places there are already women India swim without clothes in swimsuits familiar to us, but this is rather a rare exception to the rule.

The emergence of bikinis in Europe and the world

To begin with, bikini swimwear cannot be called the old traditional bathing attire, even for Europe. When this bathing suit, consisting of two separate parts, was first presented to the public, it took a long time for European society to accept it.

woman in bikini
Old french card with a picture of a girl in a bikini on the beach

One of the first bikini designs was created by French designer Louis Reird, who first introduced his version of a bathing suit in 1946 and at the same time had significant problems finding models.

The look of the bathing suit ego was initially considered scandalous. At that time, women preferred more closed beach outfits. Swimwear with an open navel was an almost unheard of audacity ... Now let's move from Europe to India.

Why didn't bikini swimwear catch on in India and become part of its beach culture?

Let's start with the fact that according to the latest census, almost 138 million people in India are Muslims and their percentage is constantly growing. There can be no questions here - the Koran forbids. But what about the rest of the population?

Palolem beach in Goa
Indian family vacation on Palolem beach in Goa

Three factors come into play here -geographical, cultural and historical. When in the second half of the 40s and the first half of the 50s the bikini broke into the consciousness of Europeans, India was fighting for de facto independence from colonial rule. We can say that 1947 was the starting point of this struggle and it was somehow ... not up to the bikini.

Another important point is that India is a hugely populous, multiethnic country that has, willy-nilly, gone through clashes with different cultures over the past five centuries. Islamic invasion, Mughal rule, British Empire colonial rule.

Cultural Overlay and the Historical Position of Women in India

In general, this situation can be called a cultural imposition. With such general oppression, the most vulnerable part of society has always been women. They were treated like property and everything was decided for them.

Women on the beach
Standard seaside vacation for women in India

But even after independence and the adoption of the constitution, the actual situation of women has not changed in many ways. Times are different now, progress, but the way of thinking remains the same.

It is a fact that more and more Indian girls in Europe and other parts of the planet are feeling great on the beaches in bikini swimsuits. However, returning home, in most cases, they do not risk going to the beach in the same revealing outfit for India. They do not want to arouse public anger and see the condemning and at the same time interested looks of men.

Although the situation is changing a little and now you can really meet Indian girls in bathing suits on some beaches in India, but this is still a rarity. And who knows how long these changes will take and whether they will turn in the other direction due to the gradual increase in the Muslim population of the country.

Indian girl answered the question about bikinis and swimwear on Indian women

It will be interesting to know the opinion of an Indian girl named Vidya Murugan about the existing problem and the reasons for its occurrence.

- The last Sunday of our vacation on one of the beaches of the northeastern US state of Jersey on the Atlantic coast, a lady I did not know approached me. She asked, "Excuse me, are you from India?"

When she received my affirmative answer, she asked the question she really wanted to ask: "Why don't Indians wear bikinis or other swimwear on the beach?"

She herself considered this state of affairs rather strange. She was convinced that at least on the beach people should be able to really relax. Well, all Indians just ignore it. This woman's observation, although quite accurate, is not entirely correct. Indeed, over time, more and more Indians take to the beaches and into the water in bathing suits, both in India and abroad. Although it is indisputable that it is more developed abroad than in India itself.

Later, I asked this question to my friends and received many answers. "They (swimsuits) are cold." "We don't have to work on our tan." "There is no decent swimsuit." "Problems with the body." "Uncomfortable to expose the skin."

indian girls
Indian girls go to sea in normal clothes

I agree with most of the answers, but not with some. Knowledge of Goa only exacerbates the problem. Because even there it is quite rare to see an Indian in a bathing suit. It is even rarer to meet an Indian woman in a bathing suit. Especially on the most popular and crowded beaches.

So why don't most Indian women wear bikinis or other swimwear on the beach?

Let's start with the fact that, in principle, it is inconvenient for Indians to show their body. This situation is gradually changing, but for now it is a reality. This is probably the biggest reason why we prefer to just get our feet wet on the beach rather than go swimming.

Even when we splash, we dip fully clothed and dry ourselves on the sand. We rarely go to the sea by car or travel long distances to spend a day at the beach in India.

Indians bathe
Indian family swimming in the sea

Have to sit wet in a car or bus. The seat in the transport at the same time becomes damp. This is a real, but not the main problem in our world.

In our country, even today, covering one's head in front of an elderly person is considered a sign of respect. On the other hand, women wearing Western clothes are often the subject of discussion. Agree that in such a situation it is rather strange to jump on the beach in a bathing suit. The fact is that a bikini or a more closed version of a swimsuit is so uncommon in India that it attracts unwanted attention and disapproving looks.

All this exacerbates the existing level of discomfort and prevents the appearance in public in bathing suits. I'm not even talking about the bikini. I mean, just a T-shirt with a little frill, tights and closed sleeves. Some may argue that this is a rather modest outfit. But clothes of this kind are sure to make strangers stare at you. And believe me, this is not at all the attention that a girl or woman dreams of.

A woman from Pushkar, India's oldest city in the state of Rajasthan

However, formally there is nothing that explicitly forbids Indian girls from wearing whatever they like. The question arises: why, even in Europe or America, where the above factors do not work, we are still so shy?

One of the reasons is that the people of India are used to traveling in companies. Our companies are mostly made up of other Indians, or at least there will be other Indians in it. In a country where women are not accustomed to undressing even in front of their own sex, it is extremely embarrassing to be in bathing suits in front of friends of the opposite sex.

Perhaps this would not be so critical if everyone in the company were your friends. However, they often turn out to be friends of your friend or friends of your friends. That's enough to keep many of us off swimwear.

Another problem is that we are quite strict in our assessments of our bodies. Many of us are quite voluminous. How a little rude, but accurately, one of my friends put it: "full priests."

We do not adhere to the strict standards of Western sexuality. Most women in India have never been motivated to get a flat tummy or go the extra mile to get rid of a wrestler's huge thighs and arms. This problem was aggravated by the fact that we always avoided showing our figure.

Sonya Dara in bikini
Sonia Dara: exemplary Indian American

Quite frankly, many of us don't want to reveal what we struggle to hide under layers of baggy clothing. We have a psychological problem in evaluating our body. We don't have the confidence to say to ourselves, “Hey, I don't have a body like Katrina Kaif or Kareena Kapoor or anyone, but I don't care. If someone doesn't like what you see, don't watch. Why are you even looking at me?" This may also explain why many of us prefer to go to the beach in casual clothes or swimming shirts. not bikinis.

And yes, we don't have to work on our tan :))

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