Bikini Protest

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John BantinI was on a palm-fringed island in the Maldives when I saw two girls, both instructors with the dive centre at Vilamendhoo, coming in from the beach and looking happy in their bikinis. One, Leila, was Swiss married to a Maldivian while the other, Sylvita, was Spanish and partnered an Austrian.

I asked them to go back and recreate the moment and photographed them for use on the cover of Diver Magazine’s Travel Guide. They were happy to oblige and I grabbed a few images of them acting it out again. It took only a few minutes to do but it seemed to me to encapsulate what a tropical island holiday was all about.

The trouble started when I innocently posted one of the pictures I’d shot at 6fps on the FaceBook page of a closed group of photographers that I was a member of. I thought it was a good example of the spontaneity obtained with a DSLR and rarely possible with compact cameras thanks to the time-delay in getting a picture and the absence of a buffer. It represented a moment that was grabbed. From some of the reactions you would have thought I’d posted something pornographic.

I received vitriolic messages accusing me of all sorts of perversion. One was even from a man but no doubt he was told what to write by his partner. The terms ‘priapism’ and ‘phimosis’ were mentioned. These messages were so upsetting that I deleted them immediately rather than let one of my daughters stumble on one and be upset too. Deleting them was a mistake. You might have enjoyed reading them.

The girls in the picture saw some of the reaction that was posted and were confused and upset about it. What had they done? It was no more than being photographed in what they wore on a day-to-day basis.

As Leila wrote to me, “My God, what is going on with this picture? If it would be completely naked I could understand it. But on some places you really don’t need a drysuit for diving.” (SIC)

When the Travel Guide was announced on the magazine’s FaceBook page, it attracted a lot of ‘likes’ but some predictable objections from the same people. The few objectors were both vociferous and aggressive in their reaction to it. They had decided to set themselves up as some sort of moral guardians.

One, the man, said, “Yep, lovely photo and no problem with that on a 1970’s Travel Agency poster. There’s a significant number out there that cringe when they see this sort of stuff though. It doesn’t shock. It’s just boring and past it.”

Another, a woman, obviously angry, wrote, “The guy who came up with the rubbish belongs to be shot. Go back into the cupboard with this crap. Honestly, it shows the wrong image of the industry, which prevents people taking up this sport, puts their partners off because they come under the impression diving is a dammed swinger club. All down to the shortfall in somebody’s own swimming trunk! Wake up. We are in the 21st century! You have to come up with something better than some cheap image! By the way the girls are nice, but the image is more related to a warehouse sale than to diving! An absolute let down!” (SIC)

This again appalled the girls who appeared in the picture, when they read it. They were photographed wearing the sort of swimming costumes they wore every day. Those that felt they were offended by this innocent picture had very much offended the girls featured in it.

One of the girls wrote to me and said, “They obviously don’t get it.”

I assume she meant they didn’t understand that people wear swimming costumes and bikinis on tropical islands. Well, I think that’s what she meant.

So while it truly represents what happens on tropical island holidays, it seems the ‘Taliban’ of diving want it stopped. Of course their reaction is not typical. The bookstalls would not be full of women’s magazines with similar pictures if it were. If women didn’t like looking at women, magazines like Vogue would not exist.

There were some uncharitable reactions to the negative reactions too. One Englishman in Mexico said, “Don’t get me started on the business of political correctness.”

Another supporter even went as far as to email me privately from the USA with the following message:

“Oh my God… women in bathing suits… you should be burned as a witch or infidel.  We used to get the same complaints in the early 1990s about the same thing in our magazines by a militant group of about a dozen fat chicks who called themselves “Women Who Dive”.

Girls in Bikinis

The offending photo

We simply chose to ignore their bitter philippics and attempts to influence our advertisers to pull their ads. It was ridiculous. Seriously, what do women wear to the beach? And if you can’t handle women in bathing suits, you better not go to the tropics or on dive trips. I will never underestimate the supreme idiocy of a certain portion of the diving industry.”

Here’s the offending picture. I hope you’re not offended.

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67 comments for “Bikini Protest

  1. September 9, 2013 at 11:37 am

    The people complaining are the ones that don’t look good in this type of suit.

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  2. Kent May
    September 9, 2013 at 5:47 am

    As a cave diver in Florida, I would have loved to see a better definition of the water they are splashing up. Send your blog to Susan Long at DUI Inc. I think she would accommodate a similar picture both in and out of a drysuit that her company sells. Please keep taking pictures as you see fit. I see nothing wrong with the one you posted.

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  3. Kevin
    September 9, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Haha, shocking! I’m shocked! OMG, the humanity!

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  4. Keys Girl
    September 8, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Absolutely ridiculous! All I see are remarks from envious women. Which seems to be the modern version of today’s feminists… being a woman who stands on her own two feet, takes care of her mind, body and spirit I take offense to these remarks. I feel it is just the envy of women who are not happy within themselves enough to view these shots as beautiful artistic pictures. Beauty is power along with most good attributes and when you are dealing with power you also have to deal with the envy that goes with it…..keep those amazing photos coming John…this feminist would like to see them all!

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  5. Don
    September 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    OMG, I live in the Florida Keys and this is a usual sight. What’s up with these people? Perhaps they are divers that have a more manatee look than a fit and healthy diver look. Chill people of extra weight.

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  6. Frank
    September 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Whaaaat? You can see more skin on prime time tv.

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  7. DFWDave
    September 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Sharia law. It’s coming. Get ready for it. Meanwhile, jealous people will always bitch and complain about something they don’t have themselves.

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  8. John
    September 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Apparently, the people who were upset by the photo never see newspaper, magazine, or television advertising if they did, they would be miserable!! (Having said that, I believe they ARE miserable…… :-).

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  9. September 8, 2013 at 12:43 am

    I love the photo, and I don’t understand the objections. It shows two happy girls in a tropical paradise. What could possibly be wrong with that?

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  10. Momma Diver
    September 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Sum it up in one word – JEALOUS –
    1) those negative people are jealous of two young healthy and cute young women having fun diving
    2) And me, too – wish I still looked like that….thank god for diveskins….

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  11. Phil Gans
    September 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    I used to wonder about underwater pictures of girls without any wetsuit or skin, thinking that they were set up photographs, and not realistic. They were pretty and pleasing pictures, but maybe did not reflect the cold water or need for some protection.
    Your picture is of actual people, so I do not need to wonder.
    I guess I may not be politically correct, but I think that the discussion may represent a comment on, or some criticism of society or human nature where we find the picture attractive. I agree that it is better to evaluate people on may many factors, and not just good looks. However, (being politically suspect?), it is only a picture, and I found the picture pleasing.

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  12. John Bantin
    September 4, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I’m gratified to discover that I am not in a minority. The Internet can give a bubble of importance to people who are maybe not mainstream in their beliefs. I thank you all for your encouragement and I intend to continue my appreciation of beauty in all things. For example, I’ve been studying the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel recently. Now that’s a work of art! Thank you all, again.

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  13. TheWorldIsDoomed
    September 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Stupid people have nothing better to do than complain about 2 beautiful women having a nice time in a beatiful place??!! Jesus H Christ, this world is doomed by such idiocy.

    Morons like the ones who complained about a nice picture like this walk amongst us, folks, and they vote!!

    God help us all.

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  14. azul
    September 3, 2013 at 12:24 am

    probably a bunch of fat ugly women or right wing religious “child abusers” they are usually the big complainers!

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  15. Brian
    September 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    John…I’ve been to the Maldives and your picture captures the Islands as they truly are….pay no attention to the remarks from the uneducated couch potatoes from the shallow end of the gene pool!!

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  16. Mary Lou
    September 2, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    As a 60+ female diver and ocean lover, I couldn’t be happier than to see the obvious joy and spirit these lovely ladies display. A beautiful photo of a moment in two lives. Hey….in another 40 years they may have a body like mine!!! And I hopehen they get to my age they are still diving like me.

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  17. Irene
    September 2, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I have a photo that my dad took of me walking out of the surf as a fifteen year old after snorkeling on St. John in the us Virgin Islands wearing my bikini.
    It could have been used as advertisement for a travel magazine. When I see it today, I marvel at how gorgeous it and I was. More power to the photographer in appreciating and documenting a beautiful image. That is what the tropics inspires.natural beauty. It does not last, however….enjoy the moments…

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  18. September 2, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Just ignore it, John.
    The species never ceases to astonish me.

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  19. Mary Wicksten
    September 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Sheesh–if these readers really want to see something offensive, they should see the famous “Life” photograph of the enormously obese Russian woman whose flab almost concealed her string bikini! Or at least I think it was a bikini–between the belly and the mammaries, the “essentials” were completely concealed by overhanging flesh.

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  20. Stan NH
    September 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    This is a very nicely done photograph of two lovely young women coming out of the water in their swimsuits. The bikini has been around for many years, and is standard wear for many women, so I’m not sure what the commotion is all about.

    It’s well composed, beautifully posed, and certainly tastefully executed. You did well and deserve praise for a nice piece of photographic work. I don’t see any grounds for criticism of this innocuous picture.

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  21. RPL
    August 30, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Nice shot, and I have the Maldives on my dive bucket list!

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  22. Troy Marcroft
    August 30, 2013 at 4:55 am

    I wouldn’t loose any sleep over it, there are a lot of people out there with nothing better to do then to criticize what other’s have done, Its a shame really the picture is Very nice and people are going to judge , Its human nature, Chin up man, Your Better then that, You did good Troy

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  23. Bruce Milani Gallieni
    August 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    I find it incredulous that some people take offence to what is a totally inoffensive image. It is about time that a bit of glamour is brought to the covers of Diver magazine. Whilst the usual images are beautiful, a bit of diversity is definitely needed to liven up the image of diving, which lets be honest, could do with a bit of livening up in the UK.
    I suggest that the offended readers broaden their horizons and take a look at dive magazines published in Italy, France, Greece and Switzerland; or on second thought, best not, they could terribly offended and might spit their regs out again.
    Every other industry on the planet uses images of pretty girls to promote themselves so why not ours? Or should we just be contented at looking at the same old same old.
    Btw, to those offended readers a word of advice, next time you are diving somewhere warm, be sure to avoid the beaches or you might see a girl in a bikini!

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  24. Rob
    August 29, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Having worked as a dive instructor and dive guide in a similar faraway tropical location for a few years, I personally think its a great photo and a reminder when life was truly a beach and I was tanned and trim, two things I sadly struggle to achieve these days.

    Nice one John keep up the good work !!

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  25. August 29, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    As a PADI instructor, I’m highly offended by this picture…. I wasn’t there!

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  26. Pete the diver
    August 29, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    First off-if people don’t like what they see then stop looking ! NO ONE IS FORCING THEM to view “art”.
    Secondly-The picture truely does capture the true meaning of a diving holiday in the Maldives.
    Thirdly- great picture.

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  27. Tony Dwyer
    August 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Very nice pic. I’d have been happy to taken it.

    There are some sad people out there, who stick their own distorted sick perspective onto everything they see,

    They should get a life & join the 21st century.

    If it’s OK to be seen wearing a bikini on a beach, it’s OK to consent to being photographed and it’s OK for the photos to be published.

    It’s not as though they were on page 3 of the Sun.
    They weren’t were they?

    SWMBO (also a diver ) just said the following;

    Next time you take such a picture, make sure that the young women are wearing burqas.

    Her tongue was firmly in her cheek.

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  28. August 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Um.

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  29. August 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Bret,

    What do you REALLY think about this issue?

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  30. John Bantin
    August 29, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Bret, You make my day! 🙂

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  31. bret gilliam
    August 29, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Well, me ol’ mate John Bantin is surprised at the protest directed at him for publishing photos of attractive women in bikinis? Let’s look to the source: it’s his name.

    First of all, “John” means a customer of prostitutes. And certainly any male viewing such provocative images would immediately drop his dive gear, his fins, and rush unabatedly to the nearest sex emporium to obtain such comfort. No doubt he would also knock over his wife or girlfriend’s tropical cocktail in his haste. Resentment ensues…

    Next, His surname is “Bantin”. Let’s examine the subliminal message contained in such an insidious moniker. The first syllable is “ban” and this prompts the viewer to spontaneously wish to restrict or “ban” any photo or article such a deviant might publish. Digging deeper… read the name “Bantin” backwards. We get “nit” and “nab”. Therefore, the bikini jihadists are ordered from a divine power to “nit pick” and “nab” such a creep in the name of extreme decency. A valiant crusade and all should take up the mission.

    So it’s all really very simple. John Bantin is a morally corrupt “infidel” preying on the barely restrained lust of male divers everywhere who cannot resist the image (or the thought) of a female who looks good in a bikini. Such images overtly encourage “infidelity” and therefore he should be burned as a witch. Then eaten by unattractive fat women in bulky clothing.

    Clearly, the protesters are on to something and it only took me a few minutes to access the Da Vinci Code of embedded meanings to words to unearth the Great Lucifer and expose his filth to you readers. Shame and denunciation!

    But yet another controversy looms… the photo of John emerging from the ocean in his trademark skimpy Speedo. This is worsened by his practice of stuffing a large potato in his bathing suit. But he always gets the instructions wrong… and stuffs it in the back. Riots break out as he makes his way across the thronged beach as all observers fear the impending discharge. Trampled bodies are left in his wake and now male divers seek his head on a stake. Or at least his torso in a diaper.

    There’s just no pleasing some folks and the public has spoken.

    Keep yer head down, John. The peasants with torches are massed outside your castle and it’s only a matter of time before they breach the drawbridge and haul you off.

    By the way, please send any other bikini images you have over to me before you go under the knife. My research is ongoing.

    cheers!

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  32. jeff
    August 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    love the photo John…keep up the good work! 🙂

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  33. Theorie de Blaspheme
    August 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    One of the most annoying and perhaps sociologically damaging effects of the open internet is that it gives everyone a pulpit to spew from. The louder the whining, typically, the smaller the demographic they represent. These same narrow, insular, prejudicial, outdated, arbitrary deviants, typically do not spew in the real world, only from behind their computer. Just as they are ignored (filtered out) in the real world, they should be ignored in the world of social media. By allowing them to affect you, you give them immense power. If nut cases were ignored in social media as they are in the real world, then perhaps they would fade away and be irrelevant.

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  34. Ann
    August 29, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    With the obesity rate approaching 32%, I’m afraid it was the appearance of two healthy, fit young women that offended. Please, don’t ever publish what is fast becoming the unhealthy norm!

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  35. Terry
    August 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    John, you won’t win this one with the “women of the fevered brow” (and their unfortunate partners, if they have one). Their protestations are a railing against reality. Congrats on a beautiful photo that any normal person should be able to appreciate on its face, without getting their panties in a knot.

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  36. Simone Iversen
    August 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I loved the photo, what a lot of fuss about nothing…had not even thought of the bikini issue until it was pointed out….all I saw was, two happy girls enjoying themselves…the perfect holiday snap shot…could have been my own kids having fun on the beach.

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  37. Mike
    August 29, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    lovely pic. lovely girls obviously enjoying diving. The pc brigade are trying to make beauty sexist, which it isn’t. The world needs to get over this, otherwise every magazine picture will have to be an averagely dressed, average looking amorphous person for fear of someone getting ‘offended’

    great pic – 8 out of 10

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  38. Deb
    August 29, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    The picture is well done. The girls are pretty, smiling, and natural.
    What is wrong with that? Keep up the good work, John.

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  39. keith waugh
    August 29, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I think it proves that some people need to get a life. I think the composition is great with the dominance of the palm leaves contrasting with the smaller “cameo” of the obvious enjoyment of the girls in the water. Nice one John! Congratulations!

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  40. Me
    August 29, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I really don’t get the fuss. This is a very nice, modest photo of two girls with radiant smiles. What’s the issue?

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  41. Per Larsen
    August 29, 2013 at 11:15 am

    It is a really nice photo depicting a wonderful moment on a tropical Island, women in bikinis or not (they are still part of the big and diverse diving community), and I am amazed about the negative reactions from some people, especially as we write 2013. It is sad, but John, you are not responsible for what pops up in peoples heads. In the end it tells more about them, than about the photo.
    Another nice shot would be of two girls in bikinis, ice diving.

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  42. Will
    August 29, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Oh my that’s almost pornagraphic……not!!
    great picture.

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  43. Colin Wilson
    August 29, 2013 at 10:28 am

    John, It really is a pity that you didn’t keep the messages, I’m certain they would have been very entertaining! The comments that you have shared were obviously written by individuals that were bottle fed as children or by women that possess 2 asses instead of 1 (if you catch my drift!). Fantastic picture, keep up the good work!

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  44. August 29, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Buy Nauticam 🙂

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  45. Steve
    August 29, 2013 at 9:46 am

    FFS! Show me a travel article which truly reflects the reality of the overweight ,unsightly, past-skinned, inappropriately dressed, inevitably inebriated British tourist through it’s pictorial accompaniments, and I@ll eat a back issue of Diver. It’s meant to be eye-catching (which it is ) it’s meant to attract interest (which it did) and most normal people accept that it does not truly reflect your average tourist diver. Some peeps need to get a life, look around themselves at the state of the world, and find proper things to take action about.

    Rant over 🙂

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  46. Stefan B
    August 29, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I’m sure it’s a picture taken in the Bikini Atoll !

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  47. August 29, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Your photograph is a beautiful shot John, anyone that thinks otherwise has their head in the wrong place. This image portrays two beautiful people enjoying a day on a sun filled beach. Shame on you for not putting them in a dry suit sweat dripping down their faces, now that would be ridiculous. You know you gotta get that image now and post the two side by side. Wonder if they will find something to complain about in that photo? Bet they do as that is their only voice and it makes them larger than life to the few who read their negative comments.

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  48. Derek
    August 29, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I’m sure they’d be more offended if it were Borat in a mankini

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  49. Stéphane
    August 29, 2013 at 9:16 am

    People have nothing else to do? This photo is quite correct!
    You have my support John

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  50. You-chan Hori
    August 29, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Crazy world and crazy people, John.

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