Swimwear With a Mission

Elina

Halttunen in the swimsuit she designed herself.

Just in time for swimsuit season, a finnish design team is making headlines. Monokini 2.0 is a collection of swimsuits designed specifically for women who have undergone mastectomies. It is the brainchild of Vilma and Katriina of Nutty Tarts and Elina Halttunen (a breast cancer survivor herself), but many other fashion designers have joined in. The artistic photo collection of the swimsuits has made its way all across the internet, from Buzzfeed to PolicyMic – everyone is in awe of these daring and inspiring pieces. The comments, however, are predictably contentious.

Overall, people agree that the swimsuits are empowering for survivors of breast cancer, but as usual, commenters feel the need to be critical. Some, including breast cancer survivors, have argued that mastectomy scars are too ugly to be shown off. Many others, including myself, have questioned the practicality of these specific designs. While the concept itself seems doable and even logical (why haven’t we come up with this idea already?), the execution is not very realistic. Some of the suits in the collection are extremely intricate, while others would require the wearer to remain perfectly still. In other words, this collection looks like every other fashion collection out there.

Milsse_monokini2

Milsse in a suit designed by TÄRÄHTÄNEET ÄMMÄT (Nutty Tarts).

The designers treated their suits like works of art. Furthermore, they wanted to make a point with not only the swimwear but also the photographs, which they presented in a variety of exhibits. Like every other fashion collection, most of the pieces are not practical for everyday wear. The point of Monokini 2.0 is to call attention to our society’s standard of beauty. Not only should women be able to wear these kinds of suits, but they should also be included on the runway. Breast cancer survivors are viable models – they shouldn’t have to pass as women who haven’t battled a dangerous disease.

Photographer: William Claxton, 1964. Model: Peggy Moffitt.

Photographer: William Claxton, 1964. Model: Peggy Moffitt.

According to Scarlett Russell of DailyMail, the name “monokini” itself is a throwback to designer Rudi Gernreich who designed the original monokini: a swimsuit that bared both breasts. The suit was groundbreaking, and the photo of Peggy Moffitt in it was legendary. While the suit did not become a top seller, it accomplished Gernreich’s goal: to question the accepted. There is no reason for all swimsuits to follow one specific model – they can cater to a variety to a variety of women and preferences.

Like Gernreich, the designers of Monokini 2.0 have started a discussion, but they won’t stop at artistic controversy. They now have a Kickstarter campaign to mass produce three of the suits, including the one designed by Halttunen. And not to worry – they picked the designs that can withstand ocean waves.

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