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Islamic-Style swimsuits give women freedom to dive in

BY THE POOL: Sociologists say the success of Islamic-style fashion is closely linked to upward mobility of religious Turks. One fashion photographer says the swimsuits can be downright sexy. “A bit of ankle … a pair of eyes is all it takes.” (Hasema Tekstil)

You know, I don’t know what to say about this article (or the above swimsuits). I suppose it would be disrespectful to say that these swimsuits are ridiculous (cute for casual wear, but not for swimming!). After all, Muslim women who do cover their bodies for religious reasons/modesty are entitled to be able to go swimming without getting a slapdown from a mullah, but I guess I just have a big problem with the idea that bare knees are somehow going to send a man into a frenzy of jealousy. This particular article in the L.A. Times, discusses how this issue is handled in Turkey.

Reha Muhtar, a popular Turkish writer, was vacationing on Turkey’s Aegean coast when he saw two young women, hair tucked under hoods, bodies cloaked in ankle-length outfits, diving off an expensive yacht.

“Not in all my years had I ever seen anything quite so bizarre,” Muhtar wrote in a recent column in the daily Sabah newspaper.

The women were wearing Islamic-style swimwear, which is becoming increasingly popular among Muslim women who want to bathe without baring their flesh. The outfit consists of a full body suit and hood that is pulled over a tightly fitted bonnet. A long vest completes the ensemble.

Muhtar’s column has touched off a debate about the merits of such outfits in a country where most women wear Western-style swimwear, and some even go topless. Yet the flurry of discussion has remained free of the politics engulfing the Islamic-style head scarf, which is banned in all Turkish government institutions and schools as a symbol of religious militancy. Rather, the emphasis has been on style. “Silly, tasteless and weird,” commentator Ahmet Hakan wrote in the daily Hurriyet.

Hakan’s assertion that modest women should forgo swimming rather than make themselves ridiculous in such gear has angered some conservatives. Mustafa Karaduman, founder of Turkey’s biggest Islamic-style fashion chain, Tekbir Giyim, or God Is Great Clothing, went so far as to suggest that Hakan was not a good Muslim.

Sahin’s latest collection features special material that lets the sun through. “Customers who want a tan can now get one without undressing,” Sahin said.

Actually, what’s more offensive is looking at someone exhibiting it all in those nasty thong/butt floss swimsuits.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding