If you happen to travel back in time to the 18th or 19th century and you fancy a swim at a beach somewhere in Europe, you might see something strange. More than likely you would gaze out into the water and see small wooden cabins with wheels sitting out in the surf, or perhaps some being rolled out into the water by a horse.
These strange contraptions are bathing cabins, and their purpose was to prevent the indecency of the male population seeing females in their bathing suits. Women would get into these cabins and change while being towed out into the water. Once they were far enough out, they could exit the cabin and enter the water without the fear of being seen by the prying eyes of the men at the beach.
The cabin itself was rather luxurious on the inside. Often painted white with one half outfitted with a rug, shelves, and a silk bag to hold their clothes. On the other half, the floor was pitted with holes to drain the water as the women changed.
If that wasn’t peculiar enough, some beach resorts offered the service of a “dipper” which was a “strong” individual of the same gender who would escort the woman out into the water, as most Victorian women at the time were not strong swimmers. When the women were done swimming, the dipper would help them back into the cabin where they would change while the cabin was towed back to the beach.
Personally I’m glad we said goodbye to the bathing cabins and hello to the itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini.