• There are plenty of reasons why non-Muslim women chose to wear burkinis (Wikipedia)
The burkini has recently been banned from the beaches in Nice in line with France's secular values, but many of the women buying burkini's aren't wearing them to adhere to Islamic modesty.
By
Bianca Soldani

23 Aug 2016 - 9:45 AM  UPDATED 25 Aug 2016 - 2:04 PM

Almost half of the women who buy burkinis aren’t Muslim, the woman behind the swimsuit says.

Australian designer Aheda Zanetti is the creator of the burkini, a two or three piece swimming costume which has banned from a number of French beachfronts, but estimates that 45 per cent of her clients aren't purchasing her wares to adhere to Islamic ideas of modesty.

Indeed, she has sold over 700,000 to women across the globe and tells SBS, "we’re getting enquiries from skin cancer survivors, breast cancer survivors, there are a lot of health issues that have stopped women from having an active lifestyle.

"A lot of them a really excited to have finally found a company to provide a type of swimsuit for them to go back into the water again."

Some of her clients are people of Orthodox, Christian and Jewish faith, others simply burn easily or just don't want to wear a bikini anymore.

In fact, Ms Zanetti believes that up to 90 per cent of her sales in the last week have been from people outside of the Muslim community.

"This has always been a swimsuit for everyone, it was designed to integrate among the West," she explains.

"It does not symbolise a Muslim woman, it should not symbolise a Muslim woman because the veil was taken away. The veil is usually a symbol of a typical Muslim woman so we took that away and replaced it with a hood to integrate with our Western friends and neighbours.

"No one needs to judge us on what faith we are if we choose to be modest while enjoying leisure time like swimming."

Having migrated to Australia from Lebanon at two years old, Ms Zanetti was inspired to create something that combined Islamic modesty with Australian beach and sporting culture after watching her niece play netball with her sporting uniform worn on top of her religious clothing.

After starting out in sportswear, she later moved on to swimwear and was even approached by the Surf Life Saving Australia to create a red and yellow uniform for Muslim female lifeguards.

Last week, the city of Nice in the south of France banned the use of burkinis on the beach as it "overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks".

It's the latest in a string of beach-side French municipalities including neighbouring Cannes to ban the swimwear in line with the country's secularism. 

What Muslim woman stereotype are you talking about?
Muslim women are not a novelty, nor is it surprising to see them succeed.