burkini bluster: history & humor help

The hoopla over Burkinigate (as had it occurred on a Jersey shore, it would’ve been called that) is fascinating on many levels.

It illustrates perfectly how viralization of a story works in this day and age, how the masses through it have found a voice via the sharing of information alone. It is proof of the power of the shared word. The pen is mighty – let’s lean together this way more often, yes?

It proves how, to this day, despite our ez info-sharing and the resulting awareness it could engender, it still does not ensure that we remember to look to the past for our lessons (aka wisdom): Erotic display and exposure are highly relative. Consider the nape of the neck in geisha culture. Consider the wrist in Victorian England. Go back just a hop and a skip on our society’s timeline. Take a peek at our Suffragettes who dared expose an ankle, who employed the wearing of white, simply using non-color fabric to help speak loud and clear and move society forward, who recognized the power in a fashion statement….

It reminds us how we should take fashion for what it is on multiple levels. It marks time and trends in a beautiful way, and the lens of fashion must include us being able to shuck the 24/7 seriousness and have some fun with it, be it pure aesthetic pleasure or humor, both accepted and integral aspects of our society. Humor is an Art. The Arts elevates Mankind. Laughter is good and healthy and has been proven as such. And so we must conclude that Humor is a healthy Art – and so we must invoke its anger diminishing capabilities to help ease us off our rickety platforms. Besides, western society is mired in slavish fashion adhesion and reverence that is as debatable as any religiously mandated wearable. What would the late, great Gilda Radner’s Roseanne Roseannadanna have said? Would she have taken the opportunity to complain just how ridiculously expensive those Birkinis were – especially those made of python or ostrich leather? And how uncomfortable would a bathing suit of hand stitched leather be, and what about those itchy tags hanging down her legs, and what about the shiny hardware and how hot it’d get in the burning summer sun? Ouch! Oh, wait, Burkini, not Birkini? Never mind….

Westernized women didn’t go from hoop skirts to hot pants in day, so how about we give this issue some space? What if – what if – those Burkinis were a baby step in the right – as in correct – direction? Who is anyone to naysay a small style step for women that in the bigger picture might turn out to be an onset inch towards a giant leap for womankind? Now, no one must be forced to like or dislike something someone else is doing, saying or wearing. Here, we can say so because it is our right. How nice is that? For those complaining longest and loudest on the repressiveness of it all, who think Burkinis should not be allowed for whatever reason they wish to cite, I would suggest they take a quick peek in a mirror and let us know how it’d feel if all of a sudden that top needed to come off in compliance of some new law. Where fashion and our bodies are concerned, western women are so liberated, so free – yeah, right. Puritans versus Playmates is as integrated a social conflict in America as is, well, politics. Right and wrong, fact and fiction are up for grabs on all sides in this arena. Might a flip side comparison be to survey how many American women toss, happily and immediately, their bathing suit tops aside when in countries that permit toplessness for women? My poolside look consists of surf shorts paired up with mismatched swim tops. I assure you, it’d take many, many martinis to get me to strip further down from that.

Let’s remember too that fashion is fickle. It’s supposed to change. Yesterday’s radical statement is today’s designer standby. Safety pins in lips back then are now the adornment of high end handbags. Look at mini skirts and micro minis and then look at leggings and jeggings, which don’t even cover what those little skirts once did (TMI, imo). What was once frayed and shredded to denote poverty or renegade outsider status is now deconstructed at tip top dollar. And then there were spikes, and now there are even more spikes, everywhere and on everything. Mid 19th c lavender-dyed and permed updo’s, lamented for their high maintenance granny status, have been re-invented in today’s rainbow hued color jobs and the high-chemical blowout mania, which hooks ’em at far younger age than the lavender do’s ever did. What is old is new again – again and again and again. Just wait until some enterprising designer creates a beach suit of filmy gauze that covers a bather from head to knee, and just wait until a Kim K or some such other A-D lister celeb dons it and is photographed, and just wait til that goes viral….

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