It has been said that “clothes maketh the man”. Mark Twain is quoted as saying” Clothes make the man-Naked people have little or no power”. Hans Christian Anderson wrote of the Emperor’s New Clothes (to which we will return momentarily). Polonius advised Laertes (Hamlet- William Shakespeare) “for apparel oft proclaims the man”
So there appears to be a theme here.
Cloth is a basic human creation. This experience is so commonplace that we rarely think about the multiple layers (no pun intended) of meaning our choice of clothing convey. Intentionally, or not, we use our dress as an identifier to others. This, I firmly believe, is an individual choice,, one based upon social, ethnic, religious issues.
Throughout history there have been certain regulations enacted regarding this freedom of choice. The common Roman was not allowed to wear the color purple. There were laws forbidding the use of gold threads to accent clothing in China. Now it is rare that laws proscribing dress codes become an international discussion. Certainly, there is a case for dress that is worn to purposely antagonize or offend, although it could be argued that it is the right of people to be obnoxious.
All this brings this discussion to the recent controversy in France over the wearing of “burkinis”. Muslim women have a modesty dress code, which ranges from hair coverings to full body garments, depending upon their customs and religious beliefs. One fashion designer, Vanessa Lourenco, felt Muslim women should be able to conform with their religious codes and, at the same time, enjoy the pleasures of the seaside with their families. Thereby, the “burkini” was born. This is obviously a Muslim item of apparel, although, with all the uproar it has created, I would suspect many non-Muslim women might wear it in protest.
This action follows the terrorist attacks in France. There have been more than 30 bans
(the first in Cannes) on so called inappropriate clothing for women. That they are targeting Muslim women is obvious. This ethnic profiling will not stop terrorist activities. There must be more effective measures that can be taken. On Friday, the highest court in France The Council of State struck down the ban in one town.
Back to Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. The tale goes that there was a very officious Emperor, who ruled with the notion that all who disagreed with him were worthless and stupid. This bully was approached by two tailors, who claimed they would make the ruler a fabulous set of clothes, very comfortable and very prestigious-looking. Of course, they said, only those who were wise and deserving of high honors could actually see the clothing, it would be invisible to all others. You can already guess the outcome. The naked Emperor paraded before his citizens, confident of his attire. As Twain said ”naked people have little or. no power”
So, to those in charge of such things in France, I say “enough, already. Let it go”.