April 21, 2014

Breaking the Bathing Suit Barrier: Annette Kellerman

Annette Kellerman

Annette Kellerman, a famous Australian swimmer, was arrested at Revere Beach, Massachusetts, in 1907.  Why?

Kellerman (1886-1975) was a strong advocate for the right of women to wear a one-piece bathing suit, a very controversial issue at the time. In the early 1900's, women were required to wear a cumbersome bathing suit composed of a  dress in combination with  pantaloons.  While swimming at Revere Beach in her fitted one-piece bathing suit, she was arrested for indecency. But her one-piece suit became so popular that she launched her own line of swimwear called "Annette Kellermans".

In 1908 she was dubbed the Perfect Woman by a professor at Harvard University who found that her figure was similar to that of the Venus de Milo.  Kellerman was portrayed by Esther Williams in the 1952 film Million Dollar Mermaid and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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