Canadian-Israeli modest swimwear designer decries flap over burkinis
When Marci Rapp moved to Israel from Toronto in 2008, her Canadian wardrobe didn't make much sense any more.
"We had nine months of hot weather, of beach weather," she says.
That kind of weather poses a problem for Orthodox Jewish women who want to enjoy the sun in modest attire, she says. Few good swimwear options were available.
"I just wasn't comfortable in what I had to wear," Rapp tells As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch this week. "So I decided to design and manufacture myself."
For seven years, Rapp has been producing swimwear for women and girls that offers more coverage than typical options.
She says her online retailer, MarSea Modest Swimwear, offers more than 30 styles of varying shapes and lengths.
So when French authorities were handing out fines for women wearing the body-covering "burkinis" favoured by some Muslim women, Rapp heard about it.
Rapp spoke to As It Happens the day before France's highest court struck down the ban.
"Everybody sent me that article," she says.
"I think if a woman chooses to follow her religious dictates and cover up for religious reasons, that's her choice," she says. "I cover up for religious reasons, and I don't feel oppressed. I feel free."
But reasons for choosing swimwear with more coverage extend beyond religion, Rapp points out. She says some women wear it for simple sun protection, or to cover up medical scarring, for example.
She's grateful that she hasn't seen in Israel the kind of beachwear crackdown France has experienced.
"You go to the beach, you'll see anything from bikinis to burkinis, and everything in between," she says. "At our beaches, we're free to dress how we want to."