To Burqini,or Not to Burqini ???

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The Western media’s portrayal of Muslim women is generally that of a derogative one, where our every speech,thought and action,is determined and governed by some male member or the other. Contrary to the West’s biased, stereotypical  beliefs, women in the middle east, regardless of creed and nationality, are actually given more attention & respect than in any restaurant, bank, airport in the West ! We also have the comfort of Ladies only gyms (surprisingly filled with more expats than locals), one day a week allocated for beach time for women only, separate waiting lines for women at banks, government offices, and the list goes on and on.

In all respect, I’ve been fortunate enough to live in a Muslim country, where I can find a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and even a beach that caters to women, so I’ve never felt the need to own a burqini. I recently moved into a new apartment, and since it’s a fairly new area in Dubai, my building was pretty empty. I was able to go to the pool, during odd hours, without worrying about bumping into anyone as I could count the number of tenants in the building. A few months have passed, and this is no longer the case. I was struck by the dilemma of debating whether I should get myself a burqini or to go hunt for a ladies-only pool within my vicinity! The only issue I’ve ever had about the burqini – yes, I know it’s not meant to be flattering – is that, it makes you look like a seal ! Yes, I said it ! I’m not saying it’s ugly – OK , maybe just a little – but I guess I’m just used to how cute a 2 piece suit looks in comparison – and yes, I shouldn’t be comparing between the two, but I can’t help it.

I do think, however, that the burqini is probably one of the most innovative solutions for modest clothing and has changed the lives of thousands of women, regardless if their Muslim or not. A lot of orthodox Jewish &  Catholic women have taken to the burqini. Nigella Lawson, star chef, rocked boats all over when she stepped into Bondi beach in a burqini. Heads definitely turned, and of course the media had a frenzy with a multitude of questions  and comments on how England’s finest rose could willingly don the sharia-compliant burqini !!! Lawson had 3 family members diagnosed with the big C, and her main concern for wearing the burqini was to protect her creamy complexion from the harsh rays of the Australian sun. She’s not the only celebrity that prefers the all-in-one suit, so does the pale skinned Nicole Kidman.A lot of older women have also taken to the burqini, maybe due to physical insecurities because of cellulite, ageing , or being heavier set and feel the pressure of not conforming to the perfect size & shape portrayed in fashion mags and TV sets all over.

Nigella Lawson bought her burqini from Modestly Active. The marketing director, Ismail Sacranie, said: “We set up the company in 2007 to cater for people who wanted an alternative to the swimwear that was out there, mainly for religious reasons. We didn’t really anticipate non-Muslims buying the clothing but now we have a healthy and loyal following – about 15 per cent of our client base. “For a long time, women who wanted to wear something modest while swimming didn’t have any alternative except for leggings and a T-shirt, which are not ideal because they drag you down and cling to the body.”

The creator of the burqini, Aheda Zanetti, launched the burqini in 2003 in Australia. And although its been a huge success in the Gulf, and very common in Australia , it is officially banned from a majority of public pools in France – aaaah, Sarkozy you again! The chief lifeguard’s explanation to banning the burqini from public pools in Paris, was that he was simply abiding by rules that state that all women must wear swimsuits and men must wear small trunks, not shorts, because larger items of clothing are believed to carry higher levels of bacteria.There are more chances of children contaminating the pool with their pee, as opposed to wearing a burqini ! The french really haven’t evolved much, in my opinion.

Many swimming pools do require that you wear swimming caps, as hair can clog drains, and also for hygienic reasons, yet all this fuss for a ‘burqini’. If I lived anywhere else, a burqini would be on my definite must-have list for hijaabi’s. But for now, I think I’ll just wait for summer and head to the beach on Ladies-only Mondays.

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5 Comments

  1. Assalamu alaykum. oh wow you really meant it when you said you were going to talk about the burkini soon! I’ve heard all about the non-Muslim wearers of brukini as well. And the ban on wearing them in public pools drives me crazy too. It’s a swim suit for crying out loud! It’s not going to hold bacteria like a t-shirt would. Heloooo?!? it’s designed to be in the water. But that’s just France for ya. My sister lives there and wants to become a citizen but still complains about how illogical they seem to be.

    There’s still Muslim opposition to the suit as well saying it still isn’t modest enough. But I don’t know how many of those complaints come from reverts or individuals living in non-Muslim countries that don’t have “ladies only” gyms and days at the beach. For me I’ve chosen the middle ground of having one but only going to the pool at hours with few people. I’m still not sure if I’d wear it to the beach or not. At least I have 3 or 4 more months to think about it.

    And I think they are flattering. If you have the right colors and patterns to compliment your complexion and body shape, it won’t show off your body too much and you’ll still look great! There are plenty of cute designs (like the black and white one and the flower one you have in the slide-show) But then that’s just my opinion 🙂

  2. Wa Alaikum Assalam Ajunet; yes I meant it when I said a burkini article would be out soon !! 😀 I’m sure over time more and more designs of the burkini will come out, giving us various options, so I’m still very hopeful ! 🙂

    There will always be some form of opposition, but at the end of the day, it’s what your intention is. There were female runners that made the Olympics and wore the hijaab, yes they’re outfits very extremely tight, but that was their only ‘option’ for sportswear. I didn’t see Muslim male athletes with full grown beards !!! so why all the attention on the women??

  3. Taz

    Erm… I personally think burkinis are very unflattering and almost as bad as Crocs. However..I don’t (can’t) swim and haven’t had to look for clothing I can swim in. If I was an avid swimmer I’d probably swallow my pride and wear one!

    1. Lol Taz ! I totally agree… hopefully there’ll be better designs in the future

  4. […] To Burqini,or Not to Burqini ??? (thehijaab.com) […]

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