The media and Hollywood have regularly twisted social norms, undermined the foundations of American society, while showing some of the most astonishing hypocrisy. In the latest example of a media that has lost it’s mind, today it was announced that Sport Illustrated (SI) will feature it’s first model to wear a Hijab and Burkini in their 2019 SI Swimsuit edition.
Yes, you read that right, the words Hijab, Burka, swimsuit and modeling all in the same sentence.
Of course, the media is raving about how “barrier breaking” this is. People magazine boasted how “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit is continuing to champion inclusivity in the industry”. The best comes from Sports Illustrated themselves –
““Having Halima as a part of SI Swimsuit is yet another example of the range and scope of the type of beauty that exists,” says MJ Day, Editor of SI Swimsuit. “Her participation and inclusion further highlights the brands commitment and belief in supporting women to own who they are and what makes them unique and ultimately reaffirms what our messaging has been — that you are worthy.””
Awhhhh…what a feel good, heart warming sentiment. At least thats what the media is trying to sell. They seem to skip over what the real purpose and meaning of garments like the hijab or burka really stand for in their clamoring for the latest effort at political correctness. They are screaming “women’s empowerment” but the real message this “inclusive” action has given stands in stark contrast to what they are promoting.
It takes a simple internet search to learn more about the origins, meaning and why women wear hijabs and burkas, none of which are “empowering”. Even the popular Wikipedia, that young people love to use, doesn’t hide what the real purpose of both are. Hijab – “a veil worn by some Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family”. It’s based on “Islamic standards of modesty”, these standards which are largely aimed at women, not men. Reasons for wearing a burka, which is different than a Burkini, but similar in purpose, include “rejections of Western notions of sexuality” or “her desire for increased mobility or privacy in a social environment dominated by men”. It’s noted that in it’s “most publicized context, women were required, often against their will, to wear [it]”. These rules come from male dominated societies, where men tell women what to do, where to go and what to wear.
A woman has the right to wear what she feels most comfortable in, but the problem with most Islamic dress is found in it’s historical context, which was meant to cover, and in many ways, oppress women. For many women in Islamic countries, this type of dress was not a choice, and was is a symbol of their oppression and their rejection of western society. To not abide by this “dress code” could result in severe punishment, even death. So how exactly is celebrating such dress empowering to women? How does a swimsuit, even in an altered form, live up to these religious standards?
I also wonder why a woman, who would adhere to these strict religious standards, would want to be a model in the first place, in western society, let alone in a “swimsuit issue”. To me it’s conflicting and contradicting. I can respect someone for following their religious beliefs and practices even if I feel many of those are oppressive. The problem comes when you have a woman saying she must dress a certain way, due to her faith, yet the activity she is engaging in is in stark contrast and violation of the standards of that religion. The “Burkini” is a western compromise, one which came out of Australia, and is not a traditional item of clothing.
If one wants to be strict to their religion, even what is oppressive to one’s own gender, that is up to the individual, but to tout those believes and then pursue a career that is stark contrast to those ideals, just doesn’t add up. Islamic clothing is to cover a woman, to shield her body from men’s eyes. Modeling is just the opposite. To think that westernized fashion magazines and the modeling industry is supposed to bend to these religious beliefs, beliefs which would condemn a woman from participating in this very same industry, and would condemn the industry as a whole, is simply asinine.
But Sports Illustrated hasn’t just bent, they have made it a political statement and as if they are doing a service to society! Somehow allowing these oppressive traditions, which stand in stark contrast to swimsuit modeling itself, is somehow empowering. The hypocrisy itself is enough to make your head spin.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that appearing half naked in a swimsuit magazine is women’s empowerment either. One can argue that it leads to the sexual objectivity of women. But it’s a swimsuit issue. Women have chosen to take part. If your religion doesn’t allow you to expose your body, or to be a “sexually objectified” by men, why would you want to be a part of anything like this? The messages the media sends to society, especially young women, is so contradictory, no wonder we have so many young people confused today.
Is this really about a genuine attempt by SI to help the world be more inclusive? To empower women and their causes? To better the world in general? The fact that SI has been bleeding subscriptions in recent years should answer that question. The SI swimsuit issue has shrunk in size, and as more people get their sports news from other sources, the swimsuit issue has seemingly taken a different angle. This isn’t the first time that SI has hijacked social causes or controversial issues to help sell their magazine. They somehow tried to channel the #metoo movement for last year’s issue. A few years before that, pushing the envelope with how risqué the publication could get, even on the cover. This is about publicity. This has more to do with boosting sales than making any difference in the world.
Keep that in mind when you see the newest SI Swimsuit edition on shelves next month. You may just want to send them a political message of your own by getting your sports news and swimsuit models from other sources.
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