My article ‘Spectacular Bodies: The Swimsuit, Censorship and Early Hollywood’ is finally published in the second of two special editions of Sport in History this month entitled Sport’s Relationship with other Leisure Industries.
The article grew out of the paper I gave at the Institute of Historical Research back in 2013 and which featured in their podcast series, available here.
This article explores the mutually beneficial relationship between the American swimsuit and film industries during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Three examples are used: Fatty and the Bathing Beauties from 1913 (prior to regulated film content), Footlight Parade from 1933 (when limited self-regulation had been put in place, but was not yet rigorously enforced) and the Tarzan film franchise (which spans both the second period and a later, third period of actual implementation and subsequent negotiation). Using these examples, the paper considers several of the popular associations attached to the swimmer and the swimsuit. It discusses the ways in which Hollywood utilised the swimsuit, the swimmer and swimming in both its films and its promotional materials and demonstrates how through the sporting associations of both the garment and sports stars, film producers negotiated the processes of censorship and self-regulation while allowing the continued use of semi-naked and eroticised bodies, to their own profit and to that of the increasingly fashionable swimwear industry.
If you have institutional access to journals through your university, you may be able read the article here. Otherwise you can read and download the article through your local public library using this link here.
Spectacular Bodies: The Swimsuit, Censorship and Early Hollywood
Sport in History; Vol. 10 No. 4; September 2015