How Surfing Muslim Women Are Reframing The Conversation Around Burkinis

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“Women who are modesty conscious have been invisible,” says Shereen Sabet, founder of Splashgear. “People don’t realize that they want to play, they want to do things, they need water therapy like everyone else.”

This single line makes a point which Sabet, Kevin Iraniha, founder of the Muslim Surfers Association of California, and other activists and advocates for freedom of dress on beaches are trying to drum home. A women who chooses to dress modestly is not a hater of fun. Those two things don’t automatically correlate.

This is a big deal for a couple of reasons: 1) the controversy in France over the burkini has surfaced new questions about patriarchal institutions dictating how women dress, 2) surfing is amazing and should be kept from no one.

It may seem like supporting women’s right to wear burkinis is somehow in opposition with the fight for women’s right to GoTopless but the point is essentially the same. Women should be able to dress in a way that makes them feel comfortable
— without rules handed down through patriarchal systems.

“I have a problem with being forced to cover myself,” says Taz Ahmed, a writer, activist, and podcaster. “I’ll cover myself if I want to.”

This is the issue, women at the beach wearing what feels right to them. “I want to do it on my own terms,” says Sabet. It’s an independent, self determining attitude that any surfer should be able to appreciate.

All images in post and video come courtesy of Splashgear LLC.

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