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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.

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

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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less