Clothing is basic human need – physically, psychologically, socially, and aesthetically. Some or all of these needs are met by various garments. One of the garments that meet all these needs that have been in recent news is the Burkini. The burkini provides protection from the sun’s UV rays as it covers the wearer’s entire body, hence taking care of the physical need. The psychological and social need of the wearer is met as it provides them with ease and comfort to optimize performance without compromising on modesty. The burkini may be a modest garment, but it surely doesn’t skip on the aesthetic need with its vibrant colors and patterns.
Recently, athletes at the Rio Olympics wore the burkini while participating in events, and made more headlines for their attire than for what they were actually in Rio. Doaa Elghobashy from Egypt, who played beach volleyball in a burkini made headlines for her burkini sportswear. The Burkini made its debut in the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games when Ruqaya Al Ghasara stepped into the open fields wearing one. This was an especially designed athletic wear for the Bahrain’s Olympic short distance race candidate.
The head to toe swim suit designed by a Lebanese-Australian woman named Ahdea Zanetti in 2004; who was struggling to find an outfit suitable for her active lifestyle which included passion for sports. Her struggle to find appropriate outfit to swim resulted in a modest swimsuit. Due to religious and cultural restrictions she had an innovative idea of developing a Burkini – a play on the words bikini and burqa. It is designed in such a way that the entire body of the one who wears it is covered except for the feet, hands and face.
The burkini has received mixed reactions from various part of the world. Unfortunately, it has faced a lot of flak in France, which has led to a ban of the garment. On the other hand, the garment has received support from various countries, where they feel the garment allows one maintain modesty and religious values whilst participating in events and activities freely. The Burkini serves the purpose and functionality in a similar way as any other sports gear would. Many may see the garment as a symbol of oppression, but on the contrary it is definitely a sign that of moving forward and liberation.