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To bikini or not bikini on Vietnam beaches?

Monday, October 12, 2015, 17:44 GMT+7
To bikini or not bikini on Vietnam beaches?
Women pose in the bikini category of a beauty pageant in Vietnam.

I love seeing attractive women in bikinis at the beach – I really, unashamedly do. 

>> An audio version of the story is available here

Da Nang’s recent tourism proposal has raised eyebrows and lowered a few jaws. City officials’ claim that there are too many people in pajamas at the beach is sadly true, and deeply upsetting to us Westerners, used to a more cosmopolitan sense of fashion. For example, if I had known before coming to Da Nang that this was the situation, I’m sure I would have decided to live in Hai Phong.

It’s a similar phenomenon to the one where women on motorbikes wear jackets, hats under helmets with long sleeve gloves, sunglasses and pattern designs that must have come straight from the most boring designer in China. The invisible woman anyone? It gives me headaches, eye strain and the need for a strong whisky. So yes please, more bikinis at the beach!

What really distresses expats like me are the old cut-off jeans and T-shirt combinations. I cannot see how orange and purple go together, nor for that matter, violet and yellow text on a pink background. Would someone please teach the Chinese garment gurus the color wheel? It’s an ‘eyesore’ – something that is ugly – and offensive to my artistic sensibilities. I feel as if I should run away and look at renaissance paintings just to get my breath back.

Pajamas on the beach to me are a mark of poverty. One should give them enough money to go shopping in Big C. Think of how much energy you would save by washing a tiny bikini compared to soggy pajamas with sand stuck to the material. No, no – pajamas are for children at bedtime, not the 24/7 fashion parade that is Da Nang society.

Trashy clothes are downright dangerous at the beach too. Jeans and T-shirts absorb too much water and become heavy enough to exhaust swimmers quickly. Also, I wonder how many young women realize how much a wet T-shirt reveals when a bikini could hide so much more.

In a population with such poor awareness of water safety, the banning of such clothing would be a very good thing. Many teenagers and adult Vietnamese men now wear Lycra or Polyester swimwear which is strong and doesn’t absorb much water, while also drying out quickly. Long sleeve versions of this swimwear are good for kids who need more protection from the sun’s ultra violet light too.

All that being said, locals could just as easily complain about the appearance of foreigners at Da Nang beaches. I often stare in horror at obese, middle-aged foreigners going for a swim when they should really be in hospital on a forced diet of fresh air and Vietnamese tea. Tragically, bikinis and the like often only serve to prove that Western culture is in steep decline.

I also support bikinis on the beach for the mental health benefits of looking at great women lying in the sunshine and enjoying happy waves. It inspires me to know that people are clearly fit, healthy and having a great time. I come home with a big smile on my face just thinking about it.

Bikini mania would be a boost to the local tailoring industry too, employing more people to cut even tinier bits of material to sell at booming market prices. Discover your friend is wearing the same bikini as you? Horror! No problem, run up the beach to the nearest bikini stand and return hotly original and eye-catching for all to see. It’s a win-win for everyone surely.

All up, I have to say that this is a progressive move towards modernizing tourism and bringing the fashion of Rio and Paris to the pristine sands of central Vietnam. 

So yes please, more bikinis at the beach!

Stivi Cooke


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