Real Questions: Is it wrong to wear a bikini?

I remember my first bikini well. It was after college. My roommate and I were taking a senior trip to Mexico. I had lost some weight, and suddenly, in my mind, I became worthy of bikini-coolness. Wrapped up in those two small pieces peach, shimmery fabric was the thought that my body was now okay enough to be seen.

I was finally acceptable.

Finally worthy of attention.

Bikinis bring you more attention – regardless of what people try to tell you. You get more sideways looks with the eyes, more glances in your direction through sunglasses. But the funny thing is that the attention offended me. I found myself thinking, “What are you looking at?” or “I’m not a piece of meat!” I wanted the bikini, but I wanted it on my terms.

It doesn’t quite work that way.

Our culture tries to impose on us this idea of singular living — living as if you’re the only one in the world — therefore your rights are more important than other people’s and your decisions affect no one but yourself. However, singular living isn’t how God designed us to live.

God designed us to live in community.

He tells us to consider our neighbor.

1 Corinthians 10:24 – No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

He tells us to bear each other’s burdens.

Galatians 6:2 – 2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

He tells us to not to be stumbling block for others.

Romans 14:13 – Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

Even though I couldn’t have verbalized it at the time, I was looking for that bikini to give me self-worth. It was my badge of honor telling me that I was okay. Except that I wasn’t okay. And I didn’t feel okay. I was lacking the truth that I was already chosen, worthy, and acceptable.

Is it wrong to wear a bikini?

Whether we wear bikinis to get attention or to make us feel worthy, we must ask ourselves:

  • What is at the heart of my decision?
  • Am I trying to fit in?
  • Am I showing off my body?
  • Am I wanting to make others jealous?
  • Am I trying to get attention?
  • Am I trying to gain self-worth?
  • Am I showing off?

Wearing a bikini is a decision you’ll have to make. As you consider the questions above, think about whether a bikini is really beneficial for you. And go a step further by considering whether it is beneficial to the people around you.

1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV

 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.
“I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

We hope and pray that you will ask yourself these questions and prayerfully examine your heart.  If you’d like to think on this even more concretely, take time to watch this video of Jessica Rey, an actress and designer, who talks about the evolution of the bikini and how bikinis actually contribute to accomplishing the exact opposite of what women are seeking. According to her, they do not build women up. They tear them down.

26 thoughts on “Real Questions: Is it wrong to wear a bikini?”

  1. I recently wrote about modesty and this is the part that I wrote about the bikini:

    “The bikini first really came about in ancient Greece(5600 BC). It was worn for athletic events, similar to how men were naked during the original olympics… Next it evolved in Rome(300 AD), where women who were sex workers wore them. The next bikini(as we would view it today) didn’t come around until 1946. It was designed by French engineer Louis Réard. We can thank him for the bikini making a comeback.

    I wanted you to see the history behind the bikini because it is argued about so often. The bikini started out in a pagan culture, was adopted by another pagan culture, and finally came about not too long before the ‘sexual revolution’ and ‘women’s liberation’. I don’t understand why it is ok for a woman to wear a bikini to the beach or a pool, but not ok for a woman to wear a bra and panties while grocery shopping. It the same design. It’s just a different fabric. If you walked down the street with a bra and panties you could get arrested for public indecency, do it in a bikini and you’re fine. Why? Why the double standard?

    I don’t think that it’s ok for women to wear something that really should only be worn in the comfort of the marriage bed.”

    I really dislike when women wear bikinis. I trust my husband. But, why would I willingly put him in temptation to sin?

    Great post!

    1. Hannah, thank you for your comment and the history of the bikini. I used to wear bikinis, but when I had my baby girl God convicted me to not wear them any more. That’s what prompted me to write this post. 🙂 It definitely needs to be something every woman needs to examine deeply in her heart.

  2. I wore my first and only bikini for the same reason. I wanted it to give me self-worth. My friends at the time told me I would feel better about myself if I got “out there” and showed off more. I still cringe when I remember how uncomfortable I felt in that thing, how I wondered if every time I moved it shifted to reveal more of me than I ever wanted. I remember the way men stared at me. They weren’t seeing me the same, just like you said. They weren’t only having a conversation with me. They were thinking about me, too.
    Today, as a melanoma survivor I joke that I wear more to swim than I do on a regular summer day since I wear long-sleeved turtle neck swim shirts along with a swim skirt to keep the sun off my skin. I’m not saying everyone has to dress like that :-), but I am glad I never feel that bikini-induced discomfort any longer.
    Thanks for the wonderful post!

    1. Jennifer, thank you for your comment! I noticed when shopping for my baby girl that the long sleeve swim shirts seemed to be “in style” this year. I was so happy! I hope they continue to be when she’s older! 🙂

  3. I am about 20 lbs heavier than I should be to wear a bikini but if I did loose those 20 lbs, I would not feel comfortable wearing one. You should not cause another man to lust/sin. My body is for my husband’s eyes only.
    A few years ago when I was a lukewarm christian, I did wear bikinis and would have if I had not gained a little weight. Now I would wear a tankini, at most.

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  5. I own several bikinis and two modest-but-stylish 1 piece swimsuits. I do happen to do a lot of intense swimming with a monofin (sort of like freediving, only not quite so deep; I basically swim like a mermaid) so hydrodynamic swimwear is a must-have.
    Usually, where I go swimming, i am the only person there (the Y, very early in the morning, and a little pond, in the afternoon; only about 3 other people know of this location). This is quite deliberate; i really don’t like swimming around other people, aside from my husband.
    Do I wear my bikinis? Yes, sometimes I do. Other times, I wear my one piecers.
    I can’t say i wear them because i am trying to show off, make people jealous, get attention, or look ‘good’–because to date I’m swimming alone (or with a single female lifeguard) nine times out of ten, and the few times i am swimming with someone, it’s my husband!
    As for the lifeguard at the pool, well, i pay little heed because i’m busy swimming.
    I am in the process of slowly phasing out the bikinis, but to be honest my husband rather likes me in them when it’s just us.

  6. Each woman has her own reasons for wearing a bikini just like each woman has her own reasons for wearing a one-piece or a tankini. Motivation for both choices can be sinful. Wearing a one-piece out of a sense of pride or superiority to others is JUST as sinful as wearing a bikini to out of a sense of pride or superiority to others.

    As far as not being a stumbling block to others?

    Women in recovery for eating disorders can be triggered by comments about their bodies or suggestions that they cover up. Wouldn’t this summer of conversations regarding controlling women’s clothing be a stumbling block to them?

    I wrote a four-part series this summer on bikinis and modesty, the latest one just a few weeks ago. I hope you’ll read it and consider the other side of this issue.

    I do think that your post is more constructive than most. I appreciate the list of questions you suggest women consider before choosing a bikini or not. Encouraging more thoughtful choices is healthier than encouraging rigid conformity.

    1. Belle, I appreciate your comment so much! I completely agree with you. As with anything, our hearts are what God looks at – just like He did the Pharisees. Not wearing a bikini and being prideful is just as wrong as wearing one with the wrong motive. That’s why each person has to discern it for herself. It is not law.

      As with women struggling with eating disorders, I cannot make a professional comment because I am not trained professionally in that area. However, I was not suggesting to cover-up because of weight. I shared my story to reveal that I, too, struggled with measuring my worth based on how I looked on the outside. This is a lie from the enemy as he tries to steal, kill, and destroy our security in Christ.

      I am so happy you found it constructive for the most part. My goal is always to give light to God’s truth.

  7. this has really helped! I am always wondering about what others think about the bikini but afraid to ask, cuz the wrong people might judge.

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  9. I think that if you feel comfortable in a bikini, you should wear one. I live in texas. It is unbearableness hot. Wearing a one Peices is like walking around in an oven. I wear a tankini, because my friends look down on people who wear bikinis and because my parents want me to wear a bikini, knowing that I have a good heart, so I have to wait until I’m more mature to handle a bikini. They just want me to make good desicions. Honestly, it’s up to you and your parents. Even if I got a bikini, I wouldn’t wear it around some of my friends because it makes them uncomfortable.

  10. I just turned 18, and in the past two years, completely refocused my priorities and put God at the center of it all. Whether or not to wear a bikini has been an issue for me for quite a while. I’ve been wearing them for years, but recently have felt uncomfortable showing that much skin to complete strangers, especially with some of the not-so-polite comments I’ve received from various males. Out of comfort and fit for my long frame, I prefer two pieces. But as I purchase my next swimsuit, I’m going to try to find one that covers, but is still cute, and won’t break the bank. Something very similar to the modest bikini styles of Jessica Rey’s line. Do you know of any retailers that sell similar options at a cheaper price?
    Thanks so much! I really enjoyed reading this post. It’s encouraging to know that there are still women out there to look up to in terms of combining fashion and faith!

    1. Cecilla, your willingness to change your habits is truly inspiring. So often we get stuck in our thinking and refuse to consider any other way of doing things. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any modest bikini styles via retailers, but my daughters found two pieces that cover the whole mid-drifts at Target the two previous summers. I hope that helps!

  11. Personally, I disagree. I do not want to wear a bikini to give myself “self worth”. I think it is wrong for women to flaunt themselves for men and wear skimpy clothes in public, however, some bikinis are more modest, as in covering more cleavage and more of a woman’s bottom than the average one piece swimsuit. I hardly swam at all last year because my mom wouldn’t let me in my own backyard unless I was in the one piece, but it was severely low cut, and there was simply not enough fabric to cover my butt! I told her this, and offered more modest bikini options, even tankinis, but she told me that showing my stomach was immoral and ungodly. Can someone please explain how showing one’s stomach is more ungodly than showing cleavage?

  12. I think you make many valid points, men are visual and we are called to live in community with them and not be stumbling blocks. However I do not find that a bikini in itself is inherently bad. You mentioned motivation. That, in my opinion, is a big factor! I am not what many would call a bikini body. I am pretty comfortable in my skin. But for the longest time I have followed the same reasoning that you have given. I would normally buy one pieces or tasteful tankinis that cover just as much. But as I have gotten into my 20’s I have become a lot more busty and the swimsuits I mentioned just don’t come with enough support. So this past year, after prayer, I purchased a bikini. It was more modest than most (Target’s maternity section isn’t just for Momma’s to be. ha ha!) and I got the support I needed. But to counter the exposure issue I found a tank top that is a similar material to swimsuits to wear over it, while in the company of other people. I am not ashamed of the body God gave me! But it is something I cherish only sharing with my husband! I don’t believe bikini’s are bad, or wearing them is even wrong. It is the motivation, execution, and setting that is often misguided.

  13. I don’t fully agree with your opinions (and that is totally okay! In no way shape or form am I trying to bash them) I met a friend from Missouri who had never worn a bikini all her life because the church she went to said that they cause guys to stumble. I have grown up in Florida all my life so bikinis are just simply apart of the culture around here. They sell swimwear year round. I got my first bikini at 5 years old and people might pass judgement on my parents or even my decisions, but it’s never been an issue or a big deal in the culture I live in. I am 21 years old and I am very comfortable in the skin I’m in. As I got older I went to a long church internship where we had a beach trip when we were almost done. They allowed us to wear bikinis, heck they encouraged it, as long as we had our leaders approval. Thrilled to be going back to my favorite element I searched for something that would be modest for a two piece and got the stamp of approval by my house mom. Naturally some how I got “blessed” with all the right curves in all the right places and I wore my bikini to an event and already caused issues within 5 minutes of me being there. A female leader came up to me appalled by my bathing-suit choice. Instantly rebuked me and told me I would make guys stumble and I needed to find a shirt (I know she probably didn’t mean any harm). I spent the rest of the day hiding out on our pontoon boat and called my mom and dad in a puddle of tears and spent the rest of the trip in my room. Automatically I thought there was something wrong with me and my body, no longer did I feel fearfully and wonderfully made because my body it’s self was a stumbling block. I even avoided my favorite place, the beach for two summers in a row thinking if I was smaller I wouldn’t be an issue. How did other girls get to wear the same thing but because they were thinner they weren’t a stumbling block. After that I got to spend a few days at home with my dad (who is a pastor)and I learned something. The reality is concerning bikinis we ALWAYS reflect on the woman’s heart issue and motives. My butt wasn’t hanging out, I wasn’t pouring out of my top. Never do we look at the fact that maybe guys have heart issues too. And they should be taught to keep their motives and thoughts pure as well. We can’t always be considered their stumbling block. I have watched as people have made women the issue to all guys sin issues, when the reality is that their sin issues are based on them and their struggles and I can’t be blamed for that. It’s not right to make a girl insecure about her body so that a guy can focus on the Lord. Ummm sorry but if he’s struggling then he’s gonna have to deal with a heart issue not just make the outward problem go away. Because if a guy is struggling with lust he’ll stumble with a girl in a bikini the same way he would with checking out a girl in a one piece. He’ll struggle in the same way seeing a girl in a strapless dress as he would in a girl in nike shorts and a tshirt. Girls are pretty beautiful people and I don’t think it’s fair to knock them down a level to make a guy feel secure and sweep his issue under the rug. Now on the flip note I don’t wear stuff to catch attention of guys just so they can see how great I look in a string bikini(because if so that would be my heart issue) I have rules about shorts, tightness, cleavage, ect. Do I own a one piece? Yes! Mainly for swimming laps. Why don’t I wear them all the time? Because surely I want to flaunt my stuff so guys can fall into sin as I walk by? No because to me they are awkward and uncomfortable and give me wedgies, impossible to pee in, and never fit properly. I understand that if you are hesitant about this bikini decision you should check your heart, but at the same note we can’t make innocent girls go around feeling like terrible people just because a man hasn’t developed a strong enough relationship with The Lord to learn how to honor and respect her as a woman, a human being, and a sister and realize than him by doing anything other than that is not only dishonoring her but The Lord.

    1. THAT’S ON PERIODT. I REFUSE to be blamed for someone’s else’s lack of self control. Well said.

      But I’d still dress up well though regardless. I’ll do my part to dress as the Holy Spirit leads but that’s the max of my effort. I’m not made to satisfy any pervert on the beach or at the pool.

  14. As a young kid, my mom always bought bikinis for me. I was never comfortable with it because I felt like I was exposing too much. When I was about 13 I wore tankinis because I felt more comfortable; however, I didn’t like showing my thighs. So, I’d wear swim shorts (mid-thigh length) with them.

    Now that I’m 21 and I’ve found Christ again, I’m glad to say that I fully understand the Bible and what it means to be a young Christian girl. I love my cute modest swimwear.

  15. What a great article and conversation! I live in Hawaii and have two boys. Prior to salvation I actually went to the beach topless and in a thong bikini! However once I got saved, God has made me do a 180. I wear a long swim shirt and swimming skirt/shorts to the knees now. Feminism has crept into every ounce of our society. As women we can never understand how men think. We think so differently. As a mother raising men, I loathe the day we have to stop going to the beach because I would never want them in adolescence to be uncomfortable because of the amount of bums everywhere and scantly clothed women. Hormonal changes and being a teenager is already challenging enough without adding fuel to a fire. I could tell them just don’t look at girls, but not really. It’s so sad to me that what God designed to be pure and good, sin has ruined. Out of respect to humanity I choose to not wear a bikini anymore. It’s respectful to my sisters because if all women are honest, at least once you’ve compared yourself to that girl in the bikini in some way shape or form. Out of respect to my brothers I don’t wear a bikini because either they’re married or one day would be and I would never want to be a cause of error in their thinking. I wonder the ripple effect if more women covered their bodies at the beach? I think it would be astounding at the freedom that would ensue. Women get caught in the lie that wearing a bikini is free-ing. Really it’s bondage to vanity and propagates envy and lust.

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