Thursday May 18, 2006
When internet lingerie and swimwear catalogue Victoria’s Secret started selling swimsuits adorned with the image of the Buddha back in 2004, countless Buddhists set about complaining at the offence caused. The product was withdrawn and the manufacturers apologised. According to the article quoted on the Buddhist Channel, “If anything can be gleaned from this outcry, [it] is that there is indeed a global Buddhist voice. If something were to upset their beliefs, many would not hesitate to voice out and to protest against actions which they deem as inappropriate and demeaning to their faith.” I can’t help thinking that if there is such a thing as a global Buddhist voice, there are better things it could be used for than speaking out against a few scraps of fabric adorning the comely form of a model on a lingerie and swimwear website (global poverty, anyone? The arms trade?). But then religious outrage seems to be growing in fashion – unlike Buddha bikinis.
More recently, Buddhists and bikinis have hit the news again. Perhaps inspired by this very controversy, the Buddhist abbot of the Chungtai Temple in Puli, Taiwan, has agreed that the finals of the Miss Bikini World competition 2006 should be held in the hilltop Chan monastery. Apparently the justification is that holding the contest in such an environment will “lead people to think of the contrast between Buddhism, which considers outlooks, especially physical beauty, as vanity, and the pageant, which promises to be the acme of all worldly pomp and ceremony…”
If – for the sake of your spiritual well-being – you want to go along and consider the contrast between Buddhism and the worldly vanity of beauty pageants, then there’s still time: the event is to be held on the 26 th August. But, whatever you do, don’t wear that Buddha bikini that you had put aside for the event – Buddhists are so easily offended…
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