25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
You might laugh at this or doubt me, but ask anybody who lived in the 50's and you will believe me. Bikinis, swimsuits, bathing suits, G-strings etc., you see them everywhere today. I suppose they were made for the beach and swimming pool, but we see them on the streets, at the restaurants, and even at public staged events. Not so twenty five years ago! Young girls never conceived the idea of exposing their bodies in public, and when they 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 dresses and swam comfortably in their swimwear. But before they came out of the water, they would put on their dresses once again. Occasionally they would get into a dory and paddle out for a ride. Then perhaps you could see two or three girls in their swimsuits, but at a good distance. A boy was considered very lucky if he could pick up these girls in his skiff and take them for a ride. He would be the envy of all the other boys because he was near these girls in swimsuits. These by the way were full body swimsuits.
|Island girl in early swimsuit model
Gradually the young ladies picked up the courage to remove their dresses at the end of the pier and then hurriedly jumped into the sea. Eventually they did so on the beach itself. For some reason they were very shy or conservative but you must understand that television had not reached our island yet.
Once the 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 the two-piece. The top part covered almost completely and the bottom part was high enough to cover up to the nave. Also the bottom part was supplemented with frills, which provided additional covering.
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 and you can imagine the commentaries and uproar. By the way, young girls never wore swimsuits in beauty pageants in the 50's and 60's. It was not until 1978 when the first Sanpedrana wore a swimsuit in a beauty pageant and it was a lovely young lady, Miss Yolanda Gutierrez.
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. Some believe it is against morality. For example St. Catherine Academy in Belize City will not allow its girls to enter a beauty pageant in which swimsuits are required. What a big difference today and yesterday. In the past parents were concerned that the young ladies would not take off their dresses. Today they are concerned that they do not take off too much from the bikinis.