Thursday, July 26, 2007
A BURQINI? WELL, WHY NOT?
This week's issue of Time magazine features a story on the new swimsuit revolution. Move over bikinis, tankinis, even one-pieces: the burqini is expanding the options women have of what to wear to the beach. Created by two Muslim women, the burqini is a burqa-bikini hybrid, a modest, "halal" alternative to clingy and revealing outfits, which have, at one time or another, left many a female--Muslim or not--in a panic before heading to the beach. According to the article, Muslim conservatives aren't the only ones flocking to purchase these full-body, loose fitting wet suits that cover everything except the hands, feet and faces of bathing beauties. The burqini has also found fans in Christian conservatives, senior citizens, and burn victims.
The Time piece also mentions that the burqini creators are getting anti-Muslim flak. The fact that many in the Western world view the burqa (the loose garment, featuring a veil with an opening for the eyes) and the hijab (the head covering worn by some Muslim women) as signs of patriarchal oppression of women in Islam is nothing new. What they fail to recognize, however, is that for many of these women, choosing to dress modestly is a deeply personal choice that is steeped as much in feminism as it is in religious beliefs. The handful of women I know who wear burqas or hijabs, do so to demonstrate their freedom from conformity. For these women, it is the Western world's cultural obsession with unrealistic and unattainable standards of beauty that is exploitive and oppressive. For them, the veil is liberating, it is empowering.
What it all boils down to, folks, is choice. I'm a Muslim woman but I don't think my wearing a one-piece or a tankini to the beach damns me to hell or makes me a slave to fashion. It's a braver girl than I who chooses to wear a bikini or a burqini.
More power to her, whatever her choice might be.