I thought I'd share my thoughts on this Evolution of the Swim Suit mess. I tried to just ignore this video at first because a girl can only take so much modesty drama (ahem, glittergate). But I'm glad I gave in and subjected myself to this nine and a half minutes of benevolent sexism wrapped in an empowering facade.
First of all, I love that Ms. Rey is preaching modesty while not bothering to cover her shoulders. She fails at the Mormon (and Duggar family) definition of modesty right off the bat, and in doing so personifies the fact that "modesty" is a cultural construct. I'd like to see the Princeton study replicated in a fundamentalist Muslim country/culture. They'd probably get the same results for women not wearing a burqua. Perhaps they could use images of Rey from this very video!
But the truly frustrating thing is that she perpetuates the notion that men's problematic behavior (tendencies to objectifying women) is something that women (not men, and not society) need to fix. What is more, in the study Ms. Rey references, the swim suit pictures the Princeton boys saw were headless. Faces have a huge impact on the brain. Specific brain regions turn on and off when you look at a face. And more importantly, cutting off a model's head in an ad, IS OBJECTIFYING THE MODEL. The fact that they presented bikini-clad women without a freaking head (and without including a head-having control group) is kind of problematic to me (from a methodological standpoint).
The take home message of the study should be: hey guys, this sometimes happens in your brain. Make sure that it doesn't translate into any douchey behavior, okay? Instead, Ms. Rey's take home message was: hey ladies, cover up! Which, ugh. To me, that is just absurd. That is like saying the take home message of the Stanford Prison Experiment is: hey guys assigned to prisoner status, now that you know what powerlessness and abuse in a prison-like situation feels like, I hope you'll think twice about committing a prison-worthy crime! I mean, seriously? It never crossed your mind that maybe the prison guards were the primary concern? That maybe good people are capable of not-so-good behaviors, and awareness about who is vulnerable and why is the first step towards overcoming that capacity for doing harm? And NEVERMIND the fact that the best way to keep people out of prison has a whole lot of NOTHING to do with some good, old-fashioned, online moralizing lectures. That would totally discount the sociological data of prison and their implications for things like, oh, I don't know, the rampant racism in our criminal justice system/society? Same way Rey's moralizing of modesty overlooks the underpinning of clothing choices (culture/peer influence, self esteem, socioeconomic status: e.g., if you can't afford to have separate clothes for school, play, and church, you will buy your clothes with different priorities in mind. Not to mention what is flattering, useful, and comfortable for each person).
Personally, I don't care what you (whether you are a man or a woman) wear to the beach. At all. I trust you to make your own decisions about you body. And while I personally appreciate cute one piece swimwear, I find her swimsuit-shaming tactics repulsive to the point that I'd boycott her stupid swim line. (also, I just checked it out, there are way better/cuter one-piece swimsuits out there, you guys.)