Last week, I was reading a book on the beach when, behind me in the distance, I could hear a large group of people approaching. I could hear the bubbly voices of a handful of older women, mostly drowned out by the happy shrieks from several children of many ages. When they finally came into view, I saw that there were four Muslim women, smiling despite the many bundles and supplies they were carrying, and about seven children.
All of the women were wearing hijabs (headscarves) and long sleeves. As I watched the ladies unpack and settle in, I thought to myself, “Oh man, what a shame that they don’t get to feel the sun on their skin and hair…” Well, of course, that was a silly way to think of it. There is plenty to enjoy about the beach without letting it all hang out in a teensy bikini—from the ocean views and salty breeze to wiggling toes in the sand.
But for one of the women, the fun didn’t stop there. I was so impressed when I discovered that one of the women (who also appeared to be the matriarch) was wearing a full coverage bathing suit—it included a headscarf, leggings, and a swim dress with long sleeves…all in bathing suit material!
This moment of awesomeness reminded me of a story I heard on WNYC radio about a year ago about religiously conservative women (such as Muslims and Orthodox Jews) who were struggling to find places where they could work out in the privacy of an all-women environment. The journalist, Arun Venugopal, interviewed several women, including Regina Tessone, an FIT graduate and Orthodox Jew who founded Aqua Modesta, a line of swimwear to “help women feel more comfortable in mixed-sex settings.”
However, because the style differed from Aqua Modesta, I think the swimsuit on the woman I saw on the beach was most likely from another swimwear line I found, Primo Moda. I also think that one of the pre-teen girls in their family might have been wearing something from another line called Simply Modest, which features swimshirts and leggings.
I really do love that Regina Tessone and other women like her are finding ways to help their sisters enjoy swimming and sports, while still maintaining their comfort level and religious practices! Brava!