Suing Over a Transparent Bikini

UPDATED 08/24/1987 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/24/1987 at 01:00 AM EDT

The women of America have a right to cover up!" insists Cheri Ikerd, and she's proved her point in one of the most eye-opening cases ever to come before the American judiciary. It all began innocently enough when the petite 26-year-old, who works for a water-heating company, bought a figure-flattering $37 Antron-and-Lycra bikini at a local Long Beach, Calif., boutique. A few days later Ikerd wore the pink-and-white swimsuit for the first—and last—time. "When I came out of the water," she recalls, "my friends started busting up laughing. They went over and got a towel and wrapped me up in it." Running for shelter, Ikerd took a look in a mirror and discovered the naked truth. "It was see-through—definitely transparent," she says. "I could have saved $37 and gone nude."

When the Sunfoxx boutique stuck to its policy of no full refunds on worn intimate apparel, Ikerd asked the store to complain to the manufacturer and even tried to have a darker lining sewn in. But when all her attempts at modified modesty failed, she took the store to court. There she laid the bare evidence—Polaroids of her hosed-down self in said suit—before Municipal Court Judge G. William Dunn. "She appears to have no clothes on," said the eagle-eyed judge after giving the photos a thorough perusal. "His eyes just bulged out," says Ikerd. Whereupon Judge Dunn sympathetically ruled in Ikerd's favor. He ordered Sunfoxx not only to refund the $37 but also to pay Ikerd the $42 she had spent in court fees and expenses, including the cost of the Polaroids.

As it turns out, there are no real losers in the case. At Sunfoxx, sales of what local wits have dubbed the "sea and see" swimsuit are way up. "It's been a great windfall," store owner Ken Wolfson says of his legal defeat. Meanwhile, Ikerd is also benefiting from the publicity. "Guys who never said boo to me are coming up and saying, 'Aren't you the one with the bikini? Let's get together sometime.' " Most important, everyone connected with the case has learned that where bikinis are concerned, justice, for once, is most certainly not blind.

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