Why are her clothes your problem?

An article yesterday in The Telegraph shared pictures of M&S’s new range of burkinis. Okay, cool! An article on fashion and diversity? …not so much.

I didn’t expect to do another post on body shaming so soon but couldn’t help but comment when columnist Allison Pearson harked things like this

what on earth is our own dear Marks’n’Sparks, well-loved purveyor of undies to British womanhood, doing lending its name to something which is so alien to this country’s values?

Not only do her words sound like something a great grandparent would say about Italian food, “Not touching any of that foreign junk!” But they show a total lack of understanding of her fellow Brits. Dressing in a bikini isn’t a British value, inclusivity is.

To be honest, a lot of what Pearson comes out with in this article is pretty gobsmacking. She describes the burkini…

The garment is hideous and not just because it would make the most lissom of females look like a pregnant elephant seal.

Why judge someone on their appearance or the way that you think their clothes make them look? A pregnant seal? Body shaming at its finest.

The burka and the hijab are controversial topics.

I understand that for some women in certain parts of the world covering up is an unwelcome part of life under oppressive regimes. This doesn’t mean it is anyone’s place to judge those British women that make a free and conscious decision to wear a hijab. And it doesn’t make it okay to criticise a clothing company for catering for these women and helping them to look great in the process.

Why shouldn’t British Muslim women be able to feel comfortable on a beach and stay covered up? Does it really affect the rest of us that much?

I will admit that as a non-Muslim there is no real way for me to fully understand the reasons a woman might have for wearing hijab but that doesn’t mean I’m going to judge the women that do wear them.

Who am I to question any person’s faith simply because it is beyond my understanding? Pearson’s article is entitled “THE M&S BURKINI FOR MUSLIM WOMEN SHOWS BRITAIN IS LETTING SEXISM IN UNDER THE RADAR”; she insists that Britain has failed to stick up for itself as ‘misogynist attitudes sneak in’.

But to assume that the hijab is purely a male invention created to oppress women is narrow minded. For many women it is an order from Allah that women are happy to oblige. Believe it or not, this relationship with Allah is liberating for some women. Of course, all religions serve as a difficult topic when discussing women’s rights and in some ways they can undoubtedly be oppressive for women. Religions such as Islam and Christianity are patriarchal in nature and this will naturally have a negative impact on women. However it is the woman’s own choice of dress that is most important here.

Some women choose to bear all and some women choose to cover up. Pearson ironically weighs in on body shaming

young women today, like my daughter, are up in arms about “body shaming”, which means making girls feel guilty or ashamed about their physical appearance. And the burkini is woven from shame. What woman wearing one would not feel completely ridiculous?

For a woman opposed to body shaming it’s interesting that she feels entitled to make assumptions about how women ought to feel about clothing their own bodies. The fact that she is preaching an end to the practice whilst at the same time shaming muslim women who are owning their own bodies is really quite something.

I will not argue that there haven’t been times that the hijab has been manipulated as a way to control women but this doesn’t mean that there is ever an excuse to condemn its use or make fun of the British woman that choose to wear them.

Nadia Takolia, writing for The Guardian explains that for many, wearing the hijab is even a feminist statement. In a society where women are inherently sexualised, wearing the hijab works as a way to completely cast aside societal expectations that are thrust upon us. For her the expectation of sexual liberalism is oppressive. Some women might feel that a woman wearing a bikini on a beach is the consequence of a patriarchal and sexualising culture.

The way that a woman dresses, be she a naked Kim Kardashian or a woman in a burkini she deserves your respect and not your name-calling and mockery.

M&S is stocking Muslim fashion.. so what!

I’m just going to leave you with Dolce & Gabbana’s hijab collection.. because wow!

Here is a link to the incredibly offensive article itself.

And Nadiya Takolia for The Guardian.

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