The bikini in popular culture appears in competitions, films, magazines, music, literature, magazines and even video games.
Despite the easy availability of more revealing glamor imagery, bikini modeling remains popular and can still stir controversy. As a matter of fact, the popular culture portrayals of the bikini led, to a large extent, to its acceptance by society at large. In 1960, Brian Hyland's pop song "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" inspired a bikini-buying spree.
By 1963, the movie Beach Party, starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, led a wave of films that made the bikini a pop-culture symbol. Playboy first featured a bikini on its cover in 1962. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue debuted two years later. This increasing popularity was reinforced by its appearance in contemporary movies like How to Stuff a Wild Bikini featuring Annette Funicello and One Million Years B.C featuring Raquel Welch.
Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Gina Lollobrigida and Jane Russell helped the growing popularity of bikinis further. Pin up posters of Monroe and Mansfield, as well as Hayworth, Bardot and Raquel Welch distributed around the world contributed significantly to the popularity of the bikini.
A bikini contest is a beauty contest where women compete against each other in bikinis. Bikini contests can take place in bars, nightclubs, strip clubs, on beaches, and at beauty pageants. Related companies regularly sponsor such contests to discover and attract new talents to promote their products. Bikini contests can also take place over the Internet by women submitting pictures of themselves in bikinis.
Contestants often wear sashes indicating where they are from in bikini contests, in line with other beauty pageants. It is becoming more and more common for women to wear bikinis as part of the swimsuit competitions at major pageants. Participants in some beauty contests, such as the Miss Teen USA pageant, are required to wear bikinis as part of the competition.