Here is a cable item from London, appearing in yesterday’s New York Sun, which might appear worthy the attention of both sexes on this side of the Atlantic. The item, appearing at Just the mid-season bathing period of the year and when our girls are actually making a choice between one or two piece costumes–depending on beach regulations of the port of visitation as well as upon the contours to be disguised, or exposed, as the case may be, will doubtless be followed with interest. Here it is:
London, July 24. Tunbrldge Wells last night adopted mixed bathing in the municipal pool on Sundays and thereby menaced the safety of the British Empire, according to Councillor David Clark, a Scotchman, who bitterly opposed the action of the Municipal Board in the connection.
Warming up to his subject, Mr. Clark who seems to be the big noise on such affairs abroad continues:
“I am no Puritan and I do not oppose mixed bathing on puritanical grounds,” he said. “Although I am a Scotchman, I admit the necessity of washing, even on Sundays, I am opposed to it because I am an ardent imperialist patriot. I have watched mixed bathing so long that I am convinced that it has prevented more marriages than any other cause. A lovely Kentish maiden who has enraptured some sturdy Kentish youth during the course of a brilliant Saturday evening ball appears before him on Sunday in a home-made costume, with a vulgarizing figure, her hair bunched under a hideous cap, like a wet Scotch terrier, and, bang! goes romance.
“No woman, however lovely she may be, can stand the test of standing before a man she has previously inspired in the damp, bedraggled condition inseparable from the bath, either public or private.
“I appeal to the council,” continues the reflective Scot, “to set an example for the world and to show that it is not prudery but patriotism that should prevent our daughters from making themselves damp frights.”
The council, however, fearing that the women, when they go to the poll, would take vengeance on the solons for determining that women were not lovely under all condition, passed the ordinance.
Discussing Brighton, Ostend and other resorts where mixed bathing is the custom, Mr. Clark asserted that they were responsible for the declining birth rate, the Anglo-French nations, through their bathing customs, affording men grounds, for hesitating before marrying.
The trouble with this discussion is that it is entirely one sided like almost everything else a Briton undertakes to discuss. How about the man under like conditions? It is barely possible that a dearth of men abroad gives almost anything in pants the pick and choice of damsels along the chalk cliffs of Old Blighty merely for the asking. But the fact remains that when in bathing attire the male biped lacks pants in the ordinary acceptation of the term. One of the male persuasion has almost as much opportunity of concealing pipe stem pedals, bowed and corkscrew effects in loose fitting civilian trousers as have the women in skirts.
More so, we would say, because the modern skirt, and this column observed styles in this particular only a short year ago in London, is quite abbreviated and drat me, you can tell, Clarence, you can tell!
So how about the men, we ask Mr. Clark? We’ve all observed a well dressed, rather husky looking member of this species gallivanting around the summer hotel or playing lawn tennis with the best looker around the place of a warm afternoon. And he was some bird, this chap when dolled up by the tailor. And then later we have seen him on the beach. It was awful, Mabel, just awful! No more chest than a snake. Legs that looked like a cylinder of a Swiss music box. And just where the long hairs were carefully combed over that old bald spot was the place that a heavy sea first hit him. And now look at the darned thing!
A Scotch terrier says the redoubtable Mr. Clark in speaking; of the fair sex under similar circumstances? Well, if they have anything on this wall-eyed spider by the time he gets a pint of brine in his system we will yield the palm to the canny Scot.
And then there is the sporty guy who is always buying the girlies something to eat and drink and who evidently believes that gastronomic attainments cut more figure with the ladies than golf, handball or any other form of amusement which betrays the carrying of extra flesh. How about him, Mr. Clark? Answer me that. He reaches the beach in a suit four sizes too small with a waist line that would shame a wine cask and a figure that tapers from this center of widest expansion to a peak at either end. What about this human sprag, we ask?
Hearing no answer, we are forced to the conclusion that Mr. Clark errs in ascribing all the delinquencies of mixed bathing to the weaker sex.
Whether they marry or not is none of our concern. And, whether all this affects the birth rate as Mr. Clark intimates is none of our business. And if you are prejudiced about the matter just refrain from looking at the women’s bathing costumes long enough when next at some seashore resort to determine if we are not correct in arising at this time to refute the slander that it’s all the fault of the weaker sex.
Wilkes-Barre [PA] Times Leader The Evening News 27 July 1920: p. 19
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil does not like to see gentlemen savaged for their physical defects, but since the anatomical peculiarities of the fairer sex have always been “fair game,” one can only shrug and suggest that “turnabout is fair play.”
WE AGREE WITH YOU.
A prominent Washington woman has written a letter protesting to the beach censor in regard to the strict censorship directed against the fair sex in the matter of bathing “The way men are allowed to parade the beach makes them repulsive,” says the indignant champion of abbreviated costumes for the fair ones, referring, of course, to the absence of covering on the extremities of the said men. Entirely correct. We never did see anything lovely about the perambulating machinery of mere man when it is divested of proper garments. But, continues the good lady, “the girls, after all, have curves and attractions not at all disgusting when they are permitted to come out on the beach without stockings.” We hesitate to express our entire approval of this utterance: yet, far be it from us to dispute the point.
“And their limbs are simply awful, full of knobs, and besides most men are bowlegged,” continues the protest. We confess it; it’s the truth. We discerned these things years ago in painful evidence on masculine extremities, and now that our attention has been called to it, we cannot again expose our knobs at the seashore to the shocked gaze of those with the “curves and attractions” without a sense of outraged modesty. The writer says that the men, and not the girls, should be compelled to cover their uncouth and unsightly bodies on the beaches, and we quite agree–as to the men, of course, we cannot gain our consent to believe they were made for sight-seeing exhibitions at the seashore. They are shocking to the aesthetic sensibilities so hereafter, by all means, men should take their baths at home; else take to the ocean fully covered.
The Bamberg [SC] Herald 21 August 1919: p. 4
It was the “beach censor’s” unenviable job to set community standards of modest bathing costume and then enforce said standards. This, of course, required the censor not only to carefully scrutinise exposed limbs and flesh (theoretically of either sex) but also to measure the length of ladies’ skirts and investigate whether or not they were wearing stockings. And all while wearing a summer-weight suit, starched collar, and boater. Mrs Daffodil feels that Mr Clark, who seems sure that mixed bathing will destroy the institution of marriage and bring about the downfall of the Empire, would have been the ideal man for the job.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.