France's ban on the burkini might not last much longer.

France just learned that telling women what they can or cannot wear never ends well.

When Aheda Zanetti designed the burkini more than a decade ago, she did it for one very simple reason.

"I created them to stop Muslim children from missing out on swimming lessons and sports activities," the Australian-based designer told Politico. "There was nothing out there to suit their needs."

For the uninitiated, a burkini — a portmanteau of "burqa" and "bikini" — is essentially a full-coverage wetsuit that some Muslim women choose to wear for personal or religious reasons.


Australian-Lebanese designer Aheda Zanetti. Photo by Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images.

The burkini was a huge success, as Zanetti explains, because "[it] did wonders for Muslim women and girls. It created confidence to get active."

The swimsuit design has been in the news as it has come under attack in France.

Telling women what they can or cannot wear never ends well — and yet, that's what some parts of France are trying to do.

In mid-August, a number of cities in France began implementing bans on burkini swimsuits on local beaches.

Fitness instructor Fatma Taha models a burkini swimsuit. Photo by Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images.

Those who proposed the ban on burkinis claim the garment is a threat to others. But they're not. They're literally just pieces of swimwear.

In Cannes, the ban says that "access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have (swim wear) which respects good customs and secularism."

Cannes mayor David Lisnard, who introduced the local ban, said he did so to prohibit "beachwear ostentatiously showing a religious affiliation while France and places of religious significance are the target of terror attacks" as a means to avoid "trouble to public order."

Others have championed the bans as a move meant to empower women, claiming that the burkinis are a symbol of oppression. They're both wrong.

A woman wearing a burkini in Mahdia, Tunisia. Photo by Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images.

In the last week of August, a series of photos from a beach in Nice went viral, highlighting exactly what's wrong with the ban.

The photos show four police in Nice approaching an unnamed woman wearing a burkini on the beach. The officers hovered over her, forced her to publicly disrobe, and then fined her for violating the ban.

When you contrast that image with some of the reasons being trotted out in defense of the ban (like this one from French ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud), it's really hard to see the logic behind the ban.

Araud suggests that by banning the burkini, it's somehow liberating women from "a patriarchal, regressive and misogynistic clothing code." But if the ban is about respecting women, it's not quite clear how forcing a woman to publicly strip under penalty of law is empowering.

It also doesn't account for the fact that many women simply choose to wear the burkini the way other women might choose to wear a bikini or a one-piece suit based on what makes them feel comfortable.

Sometimes it seems like no matter what women do, no matter how they dress, there's just no way to win.

In recent days, the hashtag #WearWhatYouWant has gotten a lot of traction on Twitter to promote the idea that women should be allowed to make their own decisions about how they dress. In so many cases — whether it's dressing too modestly or too provocatively — women are derided for making these choices.

One French artist summed up the whole conundrum perfectly:

The good news is that the attempt to ban the burkini has failed — for now.

On Aug. 26, a French court suspended the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet (near Nice), ruling that these types of bans may only be implemented if there was a "proven risk" to the public. No such risk has been established.

While this doesn't affect the other 14 bans in effect around the country, this precedent will likely result in those being overturned as well in the near future.

A woman protests outside the French Embassy in London on Aug. 25, 2016, during a #WearWhatYouWant beach party. Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

Amnesty International lauded the court's decision, issuing a statement saying, "By overturning a discriminatory ban that is fueled by and is fueling prejudice and intolerance, today’s decision has drawn an important line in the sand."

Zanetti has hope for the future — not only about the burkini, but the way society treats women.

"It doesn’t matter why they make these choices," Zanetti added in her Politico interview. "The beach is there for everyone to enjoy. We are women. We should be able to wear whatever we want to and do whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it."

Three types of bathing suits. None more or less appropriate than the others. Photo by Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images.

Long live the burkini.

More

There's nothing like a good reunion story to get you misty in the ol' tear ducts. Kate Howard, the managing editor of Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, shared a story of randomly running into the dog she used to foster on Twitter. You know all those dog reunion movies? The ones with names like A Dog's Hope and A Dog's Sloppy Kiss? The ones that make you cry buckets no matter how hard you think your heart is? Well, this is that, but in real life.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The great thing about American democracy is the separation of powers. The federal government has rights, states have rights, counties have rights, cities have rights, and we, as people, have rights, too.

Heck, even animals have some rights in the good ol' U S of A.

The president of the United States is not a king or a dictator so a team of U.S. mayors, led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, are asking to go over his head to negotiate directly at next month's UN climate change conference in Santiago, Chile.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / James Van Der Beek

About one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, although it is believed the number might be higher because many miscarriages occur before the woman knows she is pregnant. Miscarriage is actually quite common, yet many people who've had one feel alone, partly because there's still a taboo around talking about it. In order to reduce the stigma surrounding the loss, James Van Der Beek opened up about the struggles him and his wife, Kimberly, experienced.

The Van Der Beeks, who have been married since 2010, have five children and one on the way. In a pre-taped segment on "Dancing with the Stars," Van Der Beek announced that his family will be welcoming a new baby. But the segment gave us a more personal look as Van Der Beek revealed they've experienced three miscarriages as well. "We've had five kids and three miscarriages," Van Der Beek told his dance partner, Emma Slater. "Miscarriage is something that people don't really talk about, and we wanted to recognize that it happens to people. We wanted to destigmatize that as much as we possibly could."

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Courtesy of Capital One

It was around Christmas 2018 and Jean Simpkins, 79, was looking out the window of her new three-bedroom apartment. Eleven floors above Washington, D.C., the grandmother of two gazed out at the lights of the city and became overwhelmed with gratitude. "The only thing I could say," Simpkins remembers, "was 'Thank you, Father.'"

Almost a year later, Simpkins still can't help but look at the apartment as a miracle — one she desperately needed. Fifteen years ago, when her grandson was born, she became his primary caregiver. Six years later, when her granddaughter was four, Simpkins was awarded full custody of her, too. She's spent the time since trying to give her grandchildren the life she knows they deserve, which has been difficult on a fixed income. On top of that, Simpkins worried that the neighborhood the family resided in wasn't the best influence on her kids. Something had to change.

Then she learned about Plaza West, a new development created by Mission First housing that would reserve 50 of its apartments specifically for families in which a grandparent or other older adult was raising children who were related to them. The waiting list, Simpkins says, was daunting. There are a great deal of grandfamilies in the D.C. area and she was sure it might be years before she got the call. But soon after applying, she was offered a choice between a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom apartment. She accepted the latter, sight unseen. She knew that each of her grandchildren needed space of their own.

Keep Reading Show less
Future Edge
True
Capital One