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No Lifeguard on Duty

Of course you curse your bikini; it no longer camouflages your jiggly parts that once held firm. But if you recognized that swimsuit for what it is — a fellow sister in the struggle for female equality — you might forgive it.

When the first ladies’ swimsuits, made of heavy wool, paddled into public eye in the 1800s, no body part — from neck to leg — was exposed. Decades later, when women suffragists swam into the political deep end, securing the right to vote, those oppressive bathing ensembles were kicked to the curb (likely onto the heads of some very confused fathers and husbands). Since then, each generation has taken its own stab at refashioning The Suit, and when presented in a complete collection, like the Wolfsonian’s “Beauty on the Beach: A Centennial Celebration of Swimwear,” politics and fashion weave a very telling textile tale. Accompanying this exhibition is “Sun Stroke Stimulus,” a photographic installation focusing on bathing suit culture. Shot by celebrated New York shutterbug Miles Ladin, each photo reflects a modern look at swimsuit culture and its driving aesthetic forces.

This exhibit closes on October 11th, so get one last peek at this rare celebration of skin before swimsuit season is officially over. The Wolfsonian is located at 1001 Washington Ave., in Miami Beach. Tickets range $5 to $7. Call 305-531-1001, or visit
Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 2. Continues through Oct. 11, 2009

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Jamie Laughlin

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