It’s not gone away yet and it will probably never go away, the knowledge, the feeling that when you catch sight of yourself in the mirror as you head out the door for a ride – there is something very amusing about cycling attire. The shoes that make you walk precariously, less graciously than a pair of 6 inch heels (I’m guessing here), the resulting wobbliness accentuates the lycra-clad form, opening up cyclists to further ridicule.
If that wasn’t enough, the whole looks is quite possibly worsened by garish colours, topped off by big sun glasses (even in winter) and a bulbous helmet, which even though it unquestionably saves lives doesn’t help the overall look. Sure, some guys and girls look great in head to toe lycra but most of us don’t. It can be a uniform: I’m a cyclist and proud. Or it can be a statement of intent: I know I’m out-of-shape but I’m doing something about it. Or it can just be the most comfortable and practical clothing to wear on a bike. But it’s our choice.
Imagine if we couldn’t choose what we wanted to wear on our bikes. If politicians decreed that wearing lycra is offensive and not in the public interest (there are many I am sure that would argue that this is the case). Thankfully that hasn’t happened yet to the minority group known as: Cyclists. But it is happening in France to Muslim women – probably one of the most subjugated minorities in the world.
I’m not wholly sure why, Muslim women are not allowed to enjoy the beach, to sunbathe or swim in the sea whilst wearing a burkhini. I do understand that France is a secular society and that the ban is not national but locally imposed on the beaches of the South of France. I also know that the burkhini was designed to promote inclusion, to allow Muslim Women to join their non-Muslim friends on the beach whilst not falling foul of the religious rules that they abide to. That’s got to be a good thing, right?
Instead it is being used to further repress a small minority who need help rather than persecution and humiliation. Surely there are better ways to target Islamic extremism. The ban on the burkhini and the public bullying of the women who wish to wear them by the authorities can only exacerbate rather than cure.
Next time I waddle into a pub or cafe in my lycra, sweaty and bulging, attracting the inevitable amused side-glances and giggles, I’ll return the grins with my own, safe in the knowledge that the police are unlikely to force me to publicly remove an item of lycra clothing perceived as undermining national identity.