The mission of the BikiniARTmuseum is to encourage women of any age, figure or ethnicity to be "brave" and to break away from conventional beauty ideals a little. Women are at their most beautiful when they feel good about themselves and are happy with themselves. That is why the museum also pays tribute to women with disabilities or limitations due to childbirth, accidents and illness, thus revealing how diverse beauty can be. The BikiniARTmuseum is a tribute to the determined pioneers and forerunners of yesterday and today.
"Beauty" is always subject to change over time and was defined differently in different epochs. Connections between the social and political situations of the respective epochs can be recognised. While in times of hardship the focus was more on strong, well-fed bodies, in the modern world of abundance a slim, well-trained body is considered aesthetic. The exhibition documents the development of the ideal of beauty from antiquity to the present and exemplifies the complexity and diversity of the perennial myth of "beauty".
In addition to disabilities that exist from birth, physical limitations can also result from accidents or illness and fundamentally change the lives of the people affected. The exhibition shows that beauty and disability are by no means opposites and pays tribute to the snowboarder Brenna Huckaby, who was the first model with a prosthetic leg to appear in a bikini on the cover of the "Swimsuit Issue" of "Sports Illustrated", as well as to the commitment of the German swimwear manufacturer "Anita", which produces breast prostheses and articles with the "Anita care" line that are specially tailored to the needs of breast amputees.
Even today, the natural ageing process is still fraught with many taboos. Young and flawless bodies are generally regarded as the aesthetic ideal, while ageing people are almost invisible in the media. The exhibition uses strong female personalities such as the 80-year-old surfer icon Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman or the 97-year-old Munich opera singer Ruth Megary to illustrate that passionate sporting activity or the self-confident wearing of a swimsuit are neither dependent on figure nor age.
The era of the so-called skinny models reached its peak at the end of the 20th and early 21st century. As the international fashion industry received massive criticism because of the numerous anorexic models, they increasingly resorted to plus-size models. While the measurements of regular mannequins correspond to a dress size 34/36, "curvies" wear clothing sizes 40 to 52. In the exhibition, both international plus-size models such as Ashley Graham and German mannequins and bloggers such as Angelina Kirsch or Charlotte Kuhrt are celebrated as revolutionaries of the fashion and media world who challenge the slim ideal of beauty through their commitment to a diverse and positive body image.
Although pregnancy and motherhood are inextricably interwoven with a multitude of women's lives and are considered the epitome of femininity, women in these significant stages of life were often declared asexual beings in the past, forbidden for moral reasons to dress revealingly or expose their bodies. In the exhibition, pregnancy is problematised as an aesthetic and social taboo and, with the help of courageous protagonists such as the Brazilian actress Leila Diniz or the Hollywood icon Demi Moore, it is illustrated that showing a baby bump still came up against moral limits in the recent past.
Bikini-wearing advertising girls have their origins in the pin-up art that emerged during the Second World War. Lightly clad women were often depicted on the noses of American wartime airmen to add a touch of optimism to the horrors of war. Soon after, pin-up girls were also seen on matchboxes, biscuit tins or tin cans and became increasingly established in advertising concepts everywhere. In addition to this historical outline, the exhibition also discusses in a differentiated way how women in bikinis were increasingly instrumentalised as product advertising media in the course of the sexual revolution in the late 1960s and to what extent the depiction of lightly clad women's bodies currently enrages people.