Photo: The two piece "burqini", Sydney Morning Herald, 16 January 2006
I have been wondering just what this "burqini" was that people were referring to in the context of the muslim Lebanese kids training to become lifesavers. Now I know thanks to an interesting story in the SMH.
As the paper says, the full-length lycra suit with hijab head-covering is not too figure hugging to embarrass, but is tight enough to allow its wearer to swim freely. It will soon be manufactured in the iconic red and yellow of Australia's surf life saving movement.
For the benefit of international readers, the Australian life saving movement has almost iconic status in Australia because of its very long standing role in protecting swimmers at our beaches. Originally a male bastion, the movement has admitted a rapidly increasing number of women in recent years.
When trouble broke out at the Sydney beach side suburb of Cronulla between locals and muslim Lebanese from western Sydney who liked visiting Cronulla, involvement of the Lebanese- boys and girls - in the the life saving movement was seen as one way of overcoming tribal divides. But this had to be done in a way that fitted mores on both sides.
I must say that it the "burqini"strikes me as the perfect work-around, especially once it goes into life saving colours because then, in a little while, it will become a feature of the beach.
The "burqini" may well be a useful costume, too, for all Australian girls with sensitive skins.