From Bikinis to Burkinis, Regulating What Women Wear

In the midst of France’s fight over banning the burkini, the bikini is celebrating its 70th anniversary, and photographs chronicling its debut and early history in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s are on display in one of Paris’s chic galleries, prompting parallels to the uproar over the burkini today.

What is it about women’s swimwear and more generally women’s attire that over and over in history has attracted controversy and impelled societies to legislate or regulate women’s choices?

Cannes, Citing Security Risks, Bans Full-Body ‘Burkinis’ From Its Beaches AUG. 12, 2016Historians, sociologists and anthropologists have argued about it for decades, but the seemingly simplistic statement that women’s bodies are a battleground has some truth to it. Formally or informally, men (primarily) have been making rules about women’s attire for a very long time.

“Can’t we decide what we want to wear in 2016?” wondered Sarah Fekih, 23, from Lyon, France, in a comment she wrote to The New York Times. “If one wishes to dress skimpily or to be almost nude or to be covered from head to toe, isn’t that a personal choice that can not be dictated by law?”

Of course, the burkini debate is not only about feminism. It is foremost a debate about the visibility and presence of Islam in France, and it comes in the context of the most recent act of terror to traumatize the country, this one in Nice, on the Mediterranean coast.

STARVING, thirsty and exhausted, Clio Austin had become “obsessed” with achieving one thing: Her dream body, for a bodybuilding competition.

In September last year, Austin, 35, stood on stage in a bikini and heels, and competed as a muscled bikini model at an International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA) Queensland competition.

She’s part of an emerging trend, in which ordinary women sacrifice their health and personal lives, all in the name of extreme fitness.

Austin had felt that her body — and life — were “stuck in a rut”. A mother of two young children and new to the city of Brisbane, Austin felt depressed, and missed working as a personal trainer — a career she’d left behind eight years ago.

To radically improve her life, Austin chose to train towards becoming a Bikini Model bodybuilder.

This involved gruelling, 90 minute training sessions at the gym, five days a week. In the evenings, she practised her bodybuilding poses at a specialised bodybuilding gym.Any spare time was spent in her kitchen, weighing ingredients for meals that she would cook and freeze, as part of her 1500-calories-per-day diet.

Today the French seem to believe as strongly that such undress is mandatory as Italy, under the Vatican’s influence, felt it was necessary to hide women’s bodies, she added.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *