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Why Beefcake?

Posted by Mel Wells on

Why Beefcake?

"Beefcake..." said the kid, staring at my hat. "Is that, like, a cake made of meat?"

"Uh, no," I replied. "It's like a muscle man?"

The kid looked skeptical. I resisted the urge to launch into the full history of beefcake and why it's a perfect name for a queer lady-owned company making androgynous swimsuits from the 1920s. Instead, I'll post it here!

While there are recipes for beef cake, we didn't name our swimwear company after a frosted meatloaf. 😏 Our "beefcake" comes from "cheesecake," a term dating back to the 1660s in Britain to describe sexy ladies. Cheesecake reached peak popularity in the US in the 1930s and 1940s, along with pin-up photography of ladies showing a lot of leg. (Some sources say "cheesecake" was coined because these ladies' stockings resembled the layered dessert, but we are skeptical.) In any case, this variation of "cheesecake" is rarely used anymore.

The male version of cheesecake, a.k.a. "beefcake," emerged in the late 1940s and has stuck around. Several sources point to Sidney Skolsky, a midcentury Hollywood columnist, as the person who coined the term. A beefcake was rugged, handsome, and muscular, and often showed off those muscles in very little clothing--essentially, a male pin-up. Or a subject in "male physique photography" if you want to be less cheeky (pun intended). 

Today if you google "beefcake" without the "swimwear," as Mel's mom-in-law did (hilarious story, btw) you'll pull up some very NSFW homoerotic photos. Do we know this? Yes. Do we have any problem whatsoever with it? Nope.

To us, the term "beefcake" is a little retro, a little queer, and skews masculine-of-center. You're most likely to encounter it in the hashtag #beefcakestatus along with photos of folks lifting barbells and getting swole. We love all of this.

Our hope is that someone wearing Beefcake Swimwear will feel confident, playful, and strong, no matter their size or shape or age or gender identity. We love hearing stories from folks wearing a swimsuit for the first time in years (!!) and sending us photos of them on a beach, in a pool, ziplining over water, and feeling awesome.

We've heard from moms who love the coverage while playing on the beach with their kids, from grandmas and teens trying to find modest swimwear that doesn't involve ruffles and skirts, from tomboys and butches who want masculine swimwear, and from male-identified swimmers who don't want to go topless. In other words, beefcakes are everywhere! We love shipping out swimsuits that make them happy.

Thanks for joining us in the journey. Get after it, beefcakes!

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