You might laugh at this or doubt me, but ask anybody who lived in the 1950’s and you will verify the truth. Bikinis, swimsuits, and even G-strings are common everywhere today. I suppose they were made for the swimming pool or the beach, but you see them everywhere. No so twenty five years ago. Young girls never conceived the idea of exposing their bodies in public, and when they finally did, they were very conservative.
I want to bet that most boys twenty five years ago did not see their girlfriend’s legs until the day of the wedding. Did girls ever wear swimsuits to show their beautiful legs? Yes they did, but under the dress or pants. When the young girls were ready to go for a swim, they entered the water from the beach very gradually. Once fully in the water, they then took off their dress and swam comfortably in their swimsuits. However, before they came out of the water, they would put on their dresses once more.
And you might ask, is it that they were ashame or that they were bush girls as the city girls would criticize? The answer is much simpler. It was not part of their culture. Their parents would not approve because they were not brought up that way. If she was dating, her boyfriend would not have approved for it would have been considered to vulgar or provocative. I she was married and tried to do that, her husband would the laughing stock of the entire village.
Television had not reached San Pedro, so this culture was foreign to San Pedro. But little by little the culture came to our shores. At first girls picked up the courage to walk up to the end of the main pier, took off their dresses and quickly jumped into the sea. After a while they were willing to walk in their swimsuits for a minute or so before the boys came up the pier or before the whistling made them feel uncomfortable. And finally they were willing to jump into a dory or a speed boat and go for a ride in their swimsuits. A boy was considered very fortunate if he could pick up these girls and take them for a ride. He would be the envy of all the other boys because he was so close to girls in swimsuits.
Once young ladies became more comfortable (and that was when the young men were no longer whistling nor calling out curt remarks), they then went into wearing bathing suits on the beach. The bikini did not greet the eye of San Pedro until the 1970’s when tourism was well established. Of course, it was the foreign tourists who first wore them. The first time young ladies wore bathing suits in a beauty pageant in San Pedro was in 1978 when lovely Miss Yolanda Gutierrez won the title of Miss San Pedro. After that year, the emcee would always announce, “Gentlemen, feast your eyes; it is time for the swimsuit competition.”
Since then San Pedro has gone through extreme metamorphosis as far as swimwear goes. Some people view them as beautiful. Some view them as a bit vulgar and offensive, depending on where it is worn and how and by whom. St. Catherine Academy of Belize City, for example, will not allow its girls to enter a beauty pageant in which swimsuits are required. In San Pedro, if the high school bans it, there would be no pageant. Today it is part of the San Pedro culture, so let’s end this one with a bit of humor. Consider that 25 years ago parents were concerned that they young ladies would not take off their dresses. Today they are concerned that they do not take off too much from the bikinis because there is not too much remaining.
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist