“Women should decide what they want to wear,” is an ambitious statement — not because it faces immense backlash from patriarchal thought, but because it often claims victims among feminists who fail to live up to its absolute demand.
Halima Aden decided she wanted to model a burkini and Sports Illustrated decided it was completely appropriate to feature her in their swimsuit edition (set for release on May 8).
The magazine isn’t even out yet, and the universe is already on fire because a woman decided to not show skin while swimming.
Huge outcry emerged from such diverse quarters, that it almost made me love this controversy for bringing people together —except they weren’t the finest people with the smartest of intentions.
People were scared their values in swimwear and bikinis were being overrun by Sharia. And why? Because a woman under water is supposed to be half-naked.
“It’s the celebration of a female body,” was a comment I got. A celebration for whom? The woman? Or the men who ogle her? What if that woman decided she wanted to celebrate her body differently, and not wear something as revealing as a two-piece, or even a one-piece, but a piece that covers her entirely? Is she still allowed to be dubbed beautiful? If it’s the celebration of the female body you’re so worried about, then shouldn’t the individual possessing said body be the one to decide how to celebrate it? Of course!
But that was never the real issue, was it? The real issue is that this means one less magazine with pictures of women to ogle, and that’s devastating.
“I don’t like to swim with the feel of a wet cloth on my skin,” was another gem I read. Okay, maybe this one swims naked. I’m not judging. Not to mention, there are full-body UV protection swimsuits available in the market that aren’t modeled by, or for, Muslim women. So, this whole “Sharia takes over America” mantra is a bit lame. But if you feel this way, and the sight of a burkini makes you uncomfortable, then don’t look. It isn’t for you. There are millions of pretty bikinis and one-pieces at stores and online for you to choose from. You already have an abundant supply for your kind of swimwear demand.
The burkini specifically caters to the segment that was ignored in the mainstream — until now.
If the idea of listening to women who have a different dress code than yours — and giving them access to the swim club — disgusts you, then you’re the problem. Not the burkini, or those women wearing them, or the magazine that decided, “Whether you feel most beautiful and confident in a burkini or a bikini, YOU ARE WORTHY.”
I’ve had feminists who couldn’t wrap their heads around a burkini because they think women should never cover because that equals oppression. Well, yes it does when the women are forced into it, not when they choose it. And yes, there are many, many Muslim women who choose to cover, not because they belonged to a specific culture, or that they were suffering from childhood indoctrination of any kind, but because they want to.
And then, there was this big fuss from the enforcers of the religion of hijab because hijab equals chastity and a skin tight burkini accentuates all the curves so OMG, so haram! Forget all about the goodness of the heart and character, let’s just cover it up!
A close friend of mine chose the hijab despite backlash from her own parents. A cousin took to hijab after 9/11 because she was sick of the stereotypes being constantly associated with that specific head covering. Neither of these women were in the least bit forced to cover, and there are plenty more like them out there. Whenever anyone generally dismisses hijab or religious wear, they dismiss and insult all such women and their intelligence. Don’t be that person, especially if you claim to be a feminist.
And then, there was this big fuss from the enforcers of the religion of hijab because hijab equals chastity, and a skin tight burkini accentuates all the curves, so OMG, so haram! Forget all about the goodness of the heart and character, let’s just cover it up!
Yeah, you people who judge no matter what — you’re the ones who oppress. And honestly, what is your problem? Have you ever tried swimming? You can’t swim in loose clothing. It’s impossible. Are you suggesting that Muslim women just shouldn’t swim at all in the interest of your honor codes? If men ogle when we wear this and that, then shouldn’t you grab such men by the ear and help them into a blindfold to practice self-control? Or just outright call out the sleazy behavior, and teach such men about modesty because clearly, it’s the lewd douchebag who needs that lecture.
Lastly, dear men: stop telling women what God said. Muslim women can read the Quran and Hadith and find out for themselves what God said about them and to them. Why don’t you boys go do what God told you to do —avert your gaze!
All this was merely a snapshot of the criticisms gathered in the span of just two days. None caring for the claim that hey…let’s let women decide what they want to wear.
But here’s the thing: since Halima Aden’s burkini images, women everywhere are talking about a magazine that was largely considered to be what the men looked at because it had pictures of women in bikinis.
That Black Muslim model with her Somali-American beauty single-handedly just claimed another space for all women.
You should thank her!