Do you know where the word bikini comes from? Yes: the bikini swim suit.
It was the name given by an engineer, Louis Réard, in 1946, two weeks after the nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, to his more “risque” version of the two-piece swimsuits introduced earlier by fashion designer Jacques Heim, with a different name.
Because the bikini was more revealing, it was slow to catch on as a design and was made illegal in many places, before it became intensely popular leading into the late 1950s and 60s.
Popular cultural stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch, were used to make “the bikini swimsuit” popular. It’s the only “bikini” most Americans know.
The word bikini, was named after the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests in 1946. The word bikini, in Marshallese language, means coconut place.
As the nuclear bombs and the testing were seen as glorious moments for the western world, and also a word sounding foreign enough and having a “tropical” meaning (coconut place), it was deemed perfect.
American soldiers and scientists, who tested these bombs on the American mainland, were also effected by radiation and not given compensations. The locals were even more effected. They were relocated to nearby islands. The waters were radiated, affecting the food from which their food would come or influence. Their lives ruined.
Westerners don’t care and don’t know anything about it. It is disturbing and contradictory, even now, for quite a few Marshallese, who still struggle to gain recognition and compensation for being displaced, maimed, and forever changed by the Americans, for their need to create a world-destroying bomb.
I spoke with someone who replied to my question with: Who cares? It’s just a word.
Nowadays, it appears like paradise. Guam, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands, seem to betray this history. But the locals know. The truths are hidden by the powers-that-be.
For more information, please refer to my earlier post on the Marshall Islands: