Once upon a time, I got skinny. Then I got Brigid-sized again. But Skinny Brigid got to do something Regular Brigid never did - buy an attractive bathing suit. So there I am, in a changing room, wearing a $70 bikini and balancing my checkbook in my head. If I skipped some meals and switched to generic cigarettes, I figured... Anyway, it was kind of embarrassing going back to the store an hour later and give "I came to my senses" as the reason.
I always figured the look was popularized there, or something like that. Not the case, according to HowStuffWorks.com. Seems that back in Paris in 1946, people used atomic and other words related to nuclear energy to mean good or cool. Like the bomb, I guess. Anyhow, the US conducted a bunch of devastating nuclear tests on the Bikini atoll. Four days later, and figuring there's nothing hotter than a totally irradiated island, Louis Reard unveiled his new tiny two-piece bathing suit (he wasn't the first guy to make a bikini, by the way, just the first one to make money with it).
The HowStuffWorks.com article goes on to talk a bunch more about the evolution of the bikini, and it's really interesting. However, researching this, I found the story of the Bikini atoll much more interesting, not to mention much more depressing.
First of all, the dictionary tells me that an atoll is a ring-like island made of coral with a big lagoon in the center. And all this time I was thinking that Bikini atoll was just the name of the island. At any rate, according to http://www.bikiniatoll.com, this atoll is part of the Marshall islands. The US wrested control of the Marshal islands from the Japanese late in WWII, and that's when things went all to hell. After the war, the US, in its grand tradition of displacing indigenous peoples and destroying their stuff, asked the folks of Bikini to move to another island for a little while while the US blew stuff up. Believing the US's claims that the tests would end wars and make the world a better place, the folks of Bikini picked up and moved to another island. The other island wasn't as inhabitable as Bikini and the people soon began to starve.
Today, Bikini is kind of an atomic wasteland, and the folks of Bikini are scattered to the winds. There's hope that the mess can be cleaned up and the island made inhabitable again, but I don't think anybody's holding their breath.
Well, there you have it; you learn something new - and utterly depressing - every day. So the bitsy bathing suits the skinny ladies get to wear are glibly named after something kind of appalling. I think I'll start calling them two-pieces.