She’s got a yellow polka dot bikini

The song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” by Brian Hyland is a song that really embodies the spirit of freedom in the 60’s. It is a song about a girl who is wearing an extremely revealing bikini but is afraid to show it off in public. As soon as she puts it on she gets self-conscious about how revealing it is, and has trouble leaving the locker room; once she manages to do that, she is afraid to take off her towel on the beach; and once she does that, she is afraid to come out of the water, despite the fact she’s turning blue from cold. People at the time may have thought one of two things; “she ought to be ashamed, she’s wearing an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini!” or “this girl is way too traditional; get with the times, lady!”

This song shows that women in the sixties had the freedom to prance about much more scantily clad than they once did. This was a smaller component of a much more general freedom that women now had to really put themselves out there and express themselves sexually. However, the fact that this woman shows some restraint or embarrassment makes us wonder whether women ought to be embarrassed about the fact that this change is occurring. Is the woman just supremely shy? Is the bathing suit just extra revealing? Or is this song promoting the idea that women should not be comfortable wearing these things in public? I think this song is really meant to tease this young woman for being so shy, and maybe more generally all women who are not able to conform to the new standards of dress. It is a direct result of all the new sexual freedom of the 60’s, and a result of the male fascination with these changes.

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