Today, images emerged of a woman being forced to remove a Burkini whilst sunbathing on a beach in France. Yes, a woman was stripped of clothing she wanted to wear by armed police because apparently her outfit symbolises religious oppression/extremism.
If for one moment we ignore the fact that quite obviously this woman elected to, and felt comfortable in this item of clothing, and suppose that this Burkini is a symbol of “the enslavement of women”- why is a woman not allowed to be modest? Just as women have the freedom to sunbathe topless, why is she not allowed to cover her body? If this is how she chooses to spend a day at the beach, who is the government to intervene? Marine Le Penn, as a poor excuse for the regulation cites that ‘France does not lock away a woman’s body’. Instead of free will in the matter, her body is forcibly stripped bare by society to be scrutinised outwith her own free will. Arresting a woman for her choice of clothing in 2016 is now a reality. I’m 99% sure this constitutes as a violation of a basic human right. We are simply perpetuating the time honoured tradition of a group of men (and Marine Le Penn) dictating what a woman can and can not wear. This is obviously a thinly veiled attempt on the part of a country which has suffered a great deal to attempt to assert control, and at the same time wrongly blame an entire religion for the terrible events which have taken place. But why is the woman one to suffer, why is her ideology compromised?
At the other end of the spectrum, away from women being shamed for modesty, women are shamed for choosing to expose their bodies. And perhaps more worryingly, for being proud of their bodies. As an over cited, but nonetheless important example- take Kim Kardashian’s naked selfie. The selfie is an key method of asserting ones individuality in the digital age. It’s self-representation in its crudest form. You take a few photos, pick the one you look best and post it online for all to see. This is how Kim chose to represent herself: she’s naked, she looks amazing, and she doesn’t give a fuck. If I had worked out that hard I’d probably do the same! (Although right now I eat so many potatoes that I myself have begun to resemble one, so it’s out of the question) So why are there people angrily pounding on their keyboards and lamenting the state of feminism because of one woman’s personal choice to post a photo, taking pride in her body. Is it then a sin to be confident, for a woman to know in herself how she wishes to be seen? For the woman in the Burkini perhaps she does not wish for her body to define her, whilst for others, her body is something to show off and take pride in. Either way should the female form still provoke such outrage, as it seems to have for centuries. Too much confidence means a woman is trashy, and a disregard for convention is equally damaging. So what is “the right way” for a woman dress? Why is the female body a constant cause for debate, a battle ground to be fought on by the opinions of others. We live in a society where women are raped for wearing too little, and arrested for wearing too much.
So wear a Burkini! Wear a tracksuit! Wear a bikini! Wear nothing! DO WHAT YOU WANT! Just don’t let a government, or a weirdo on the internet, or your parents, or ANYONE ever tell you what you should or shouldn’t wear, because although it might seem superficial- it isn’t. Your body is your body. And your choice is your choice. It’s nobody else’s.