because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Annette Kellerman

In the early 1900's in the United States, if they were bold enough to go to the beach at all, women were expected to wear two-piece bathing suits consisting of a baggy dress with sleeves and ruffles combined with an even baggier set of full-length ruffled pantaloons.  Along came Annette Kellerman, however, and all that changed.

Kellerman was an Australian swimmer who swam competitively and even tried several times to swim the English Channel.  But it was her refusal to accept that women should swim wearing all those clothes that brought her in-your-face woman fame.  The one-piece bathing suit she designed and introduced to the world (see right) got her arrested for "indecency" at Revere Beach in Massachusetts in 1907. But it was too late. Once women saw the "Annette Kellerman," as the suit came to be called, there was no going back.  And in fact, Kellerman's form-fitting suit got her national U.S. tours, appearing in clear glass tanks on stages all over the country showing off skills.

Having developed a taste for notoriety and the better things it can bring, Kellerman kept taking greater and greater risks until finally starring in a series of popular silent films, at least one of which featured her in no suit at all! Which, needless to say, took "in-your-face" to a whole new level.

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