I feel like Muslim women have been all over the MSM recently. Well, not Muslim women, obviously, but white women reporting back on what it’s like to live as a Muslim lady for a day or some such. I did find this piece by Abby Ellin at The New York Times sort of refreshing. She writes about the challenge of working out while adhering to religious principles about modest dress. Many women who cover struggle to find work-out wear that allows freedom of movement. Some work out in co-ed gyms whilst others seek out woman-only environments like Curves, or have begun woman-only exercise clubs on their own. Basically, Muslim women are not all the same, and they like to do a lot of the same things non-Muslims do. Okay.
There are a few quotes in the piece from Mubarakha Ibrahim, a personal trainer and owner of women’s fitness club. She promotes exercise and general physical well-being to Muslim women, which I think is great. Reader mkp-hearts-nyc is the one who shared this article with me and we agreed there was something… off about some of the quotes Ellin highlighted. Ellin herself observes that:
Muslim women are spared some of the body-image issues that other women face; on the other, that freedom can be a detriment to their physical well-being.
I honestly cannot put my finger on what bothers me about this. Is the Male Gaze being held up as a good motivator for women? I can’t tell.
Then she quotes Ibrahim, who says:
One of the ideas I promote is that when you are married and you take off your clothing, your husband should not be like, ‘You should put this back on.’ … Even if you wear a burqa, you should be bikini-ready. You should feel comfortable and sexy in your own skin.
Major eye-roll. On one hand, Muslim women who cover are more free than their Muslim and non-Muslim counterparts who do not cover. BUT there’s still one man to whom they must cater. Of course. Either women should feel comfortable and sexy in their own skin or they should be vigilant about their bodies and strive to look “bikini-ready.” The two ideas are not totally compatible.
What do you all think?