Even if you don’t know much about French history, these three separate yet interlinked words can be associated with the French. A bit like the three musketeers (sometimes the third gets forgotten) these words are well known. If you are in France, you will regularly see these three short and powerful words proudly adorned on the facade of many a town hall.
For some reason, the notion of equality and liberty doesn’t quite translate when it comes to the liberty of choosing your style of swimwear when visiting the local swimming pool.
I can understand, the swimming caps (I had to purchase three of them, even for my 18 month old who has very little hair), I can understand the obligatory showering before entering the pool for hygiene reasons…. all this makes sense to me. I get it…. What I didn’t quite get, after 30 minutes of getting my two kids and myself ready was being told that my 4 year old son who was wearing his new batman swim suit (shorts and top) was unable to enter the pool because his shorts were too long….Imagine saying that to a 4 year old… I just stood there….really??! We all must’ve looked so disappointed, forlorn and absolutely rooted to the ground…(there was no way I was going back through those change rooms…) that the lady went away for 10 minutes and returned to tell us that it was okay this one time…. phew….
So of course, the next time we went to the local pool (a different town this time and an aquatic fun centre – so no swimming caps required here), I made sure my husband knew the rules… wear the short shorts. We could conform too, you know. Well, it wasn’t long (this time we got into the pool and even had a splash in the water) before my husband got pulled up by the fashion police patrol, or should I say lifeguards… The only reason he got caught out was because he decided to go and have a turn on the waterslide…if only he kept low and discrete and not brought attention to himself, you know blended in with the crowd…
It was then that we discovered rule number 2, it’s not about the shorts being short (my husband was wearing his running shorts) but about the right style of shorts, the new version male speedo swim shorts. Well it appears that they have become the uniform poster outfit of the French pools (has the French president taken to wearing them?!). So, much like a national holiday is declared, these shorts have been declared THE only swimwear that can be worn in the pool… for boys and men.
This time, we were told we could purchase a pair at the front counter…isn’t that handy… and all for some ridiculous price. I’m beginning to wonder whether its a revenue raising venture… some company out there is making a hell of a lot of mens’ swimsuits to meet France’s dress code requirements… I have no idea what the requirements are for women, other than, at this stage, my two piece tank top which is faded and years old, has not offended or violated any French law.
So, too bad, if your an awkard teenager, a modest sort of a guy, or one who just wants to wear whatever the hell he feels like… .. sorry no liberty to chose your own swimsuit here and as far as fraternity goes…well you’ll be in it together…all wearing the same style shorts looking all very much…the same….!