Monday, June 16, 2008

Hijabi Swimwear Hullabaloo

First, to set the tone, I wear something that looks like this when I go swimming:

I bought it from a swimsuit store. You can buy it online. You can buy it around the world. It's made from the same material as any other swimsuits. My sister has one just like it, but don't worry, they're different colours and different patterns. We're not trying to look like twins.
So, today we went for a swim in our condo's pool. It was pretty quiet and uneventful, until 3 minutes before we were planning on leaving anyway, a custodian approached us and told us we weren't allowed to swim here anymore.
Excuse me? Sorry? What's that? I pay condo fees like anyone else. I hurt no one by wearing my fabulous hijabi swimsuit.
The bottom line is that apparently, someone complained about our attire and she came to tell us we had to go. Sorry but no... We stayed, we discussed, we explained, we had her call a member of the condo board, and before it was time to go, we were told we could swim in our hijabi swimsuits without any problem (which we already knew, but now they knew too).
So, the sweetness of victory, or the bitterness of feeling the sting of ignorance? Well, a bit of both... I have to admit that it hurts when I find someone out there is still determined to limit my abilities to enjoy my basic rights just because I'm a Muslim woman who chooses to demonstrate my faith. Live and let live. We're in a pluralistic society, which means we all have the right to go on and act on our beliefs, so long as they don't hurt other members of that society. Hopefully, everyone comes to that conclusion soon.

15 comments:

XUP said...

That’s so crazy. Why would anyone care what you’re wearing to swim as long as it’s clean? The swimsuit is beautiful, by the way.

noha said...

seriously. That's my opinion too.

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VioletSky said...

a bit late getting on board....but seriously, did you find out what her problem was with your suit?

I remember finding these on the internet about a year ago and thought how lovely they were.

noha said...

violetsky, welcome!
Really, as the conversation went on, it became more and more apparent that the real problem with our swimsuits was that they weren't the same as everyone else's. Really, not a problem at all, unless you don't like different.
Confession, I haven't been back in the pool. Not because I'm intimidated, but more for lack of time and other things I've wanted to be doing lately. Hopefully a swim is due in the next couple of weeks. I've been getting my exercise other ways lately.

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Mayya said...

I'm not muslim I am atheist and I respect every religion but there is just one thing I don't understand: why muslim men don't wear this kind of swimsuit when they go for a swim? Why women should hide their body and not men?

noha said...

Hi Mayya,
Thanks for stopping by! I'll attempt to explain why Muslim men aren't required to cover to the same degree as Muslim women:
The main concept being applied when Muslim women wear hijab is modesty. As we know, men are more affected by physical appearance and physical attraction than women, so while women are also attracted when they see a "goodlooking" man, the effect is nowhere near as strong as the effect on a man when he sees a "goodlooking" woman, or a woman who's wearing revealing clothing/behaving in a sexual manner, etc.
Something that is not often mentioned is that men are responsible to "lower their gaze". This is listed in the Quran in many places as a directive for them, so you won't (or shouldn't) find Muslim men ogling or catcalling.
At the end of the day, it's because of human male vs. female psychology and physiology that women are required to cover more of their bodies in Islam as opposed to men.
In terms of behaviour, both are expected to behave modestly.
Hope the answer provided some clarity.

noha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grace =) said...

I came across your blog because I was looking up the style bathing suit you are wearing. I am not muslim, but I think it's awesome! I don't swim because I can't stand wearing immodest bathing suits. I would totally wear something like that to play in the water.

noha said...

Grace, thanks for comment! and by the way, they're awesome to swim in. Really easy...

libco said...

I hate to defend jerks but I wonder if the people who complained did not realize you had swimwear on and thought you were wearing regular clothes. I hate it when people wear street clothes to pools. The other reason for this comment is that your suit is lovely.

noha said...

libco, it's possible... Thanks for the complement on the suit - mine doesn't look exactly the same but similar :)

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Gwen said...

Hi!
I was just wondering what "Burkinis" are after hearing about some beaches banning them for safety (of the bather') reasons and found this post. I'm more of a tankini girl myself, but I have to say your swimming attire looks very pretty. Quite frankly, I don't see what the deal is with the safety issue: it looks a lot like what olympian swimmer's wear, excet your bathing cap is attached to the tunic (or so it seams to me). And there's a skirt part. So what? Some shorter bathing suits have skirt!

Anyways, good to hear you won your argument. I'm neo-pagan and I'm used to people's ignorance (to a different degree of course). Victory is always sweet in such cases!