After Cannes banned the burkini, you couldn't escape the conversation surrounding Muslim dress in the media. Now, Dubai-based beauty and fashion blogger, Wafa Yahya, has chimed in. The Palestinian behind Wafa's Diary believes that rather than seeing the full body swimsuits as a way of oppressing women, skeptics should actually consider how females can use the cover-up to feel liberated.
"First of all I want to ensure that I am totally against forcing people to wear a certain kind of clothing. Whether a person wants to cover more or less is a personal issue. At the end of the day, we are all different and these differences should be respected by everyone and guaranteed by law," she says. "The recent move of banning women from wearing burkini is supposed to protect women, but the ordinance ignores the fact that wearing a burkini ― just like wearing any other type of clothes ― is a personal choice and means of expressing individual style."
In a bid to break the stereotypes surrounding Muslim culture, Wafa is encouraging women to explore their options when picking out a bathing suit. She explains that many choices are available nowadays, not just the traditional look.
"I want to break the norm that women do not have a freedom to choose what they would like to wear whether on the beach or work. It is not true. Women can wear whatever we want and this is all a personal choice," Wafa reminds us. "Though some are falling over themselves to restrict freedom of dress, celebrate the meaning of true democracy by buying one of many choices available to you and remind the world that égalité is also about diversité."
Adding that diversity makes us all unique, Wafa reminds us that donning a burkini on the beach is as much a style choice as selecting a tiny two-piece or wetsuit to do some watersports.
And we couldn't agree more...
"Whether to wear a burkini, two piece swimwear, or a diving suite is a reflection of our personal taste, culture, religious view, ethnicity and race," she continues. "Recognizing and valuing the many differences that make us who we are is vital to our culture and values.
"Our diversity also encompasses many differences that are not so easily seen, such as life experiences, religion and family situations, just to name a few. Accepting the different assortments in one society reflects tolerance and that what makes it unique.
Many may ask why the swimsuit choices for men have not been scrutinized in the same way, and Wafa urges those against the burkini to consider whether they'd feel the same if men were told to remove their wetsuits.
"The burkini market has boomed in recent years, giving many Muslim fashion designers new ways to experiment with design. Many fashion houses started having a burkini line meant to keep the body covered for spiritual or health reasons without compromising on style," she shared. "Just like any other popular fashion apparels, burkini is simply a variation of a swimwear. Men are allowed to wear scuba suits on the beach or pool (either for style purposes or health reasons) and that is totally fine, so why not burkini for women?"
Not forgetting, ordering women what to wear is a violation of human rights, the hijabi beauty reiterates that everyone should have a choice in how to present themselves.
"Liberty and justice mean giving people the right to choose what they want to wear. Similarly as giving them the right to choose what they want eat, where they want to live and what they want to study," Wafa said. "It is not morally accepted to obligate people on what choices they make for their lives including clothing. The right to clothing is an aspect of the right to an adequate standard of living, and as such, is regarded as something that needs to be ensured to all humans.