Buying a sports hijab can be tricky. It must be the perfect marriage of form and function. It needs stand up to the rigors of high impact exercise, be lightweight, wick sweat, stay in place, and hopefully look as stylish as our everyday hijab. To this end, I put two sports hijab brands, Capsters and Asiya, to the test.
This story isn’t just about Muslim girls or Islam. Women in what has been dubbed “the modesty movement” have been working hard to find ways to stay active and stay true to their roots. In an industry dominated by spandex and sports-bras, there was little out there designed specifically for women that was lightweight, breathable, and gave proper coverage. For years many women compensated by layering or simply staying home.
For my neighbor the idea of disrobing and having her breast handled by her doctor was too much to handle. Unless she experienced extreme pain, uncontrollable fever, or some other symptom that she couldn’t ease with home remedies, she was reluctant to see a doctor. For the Auntie from my mosque, she grew up in a time and place where respectable young women didn’t roam the streets unnecessarily. Only “westernized” young girls subjected themselves to the gaze of strangers while they “pranced about”. (Her words, not mine.)
Historically, the obstacle between Muslim women and the sports and fitness club has often been one of traditional ideas of modesty. It is not uncommon to hear stories of parents who refused to allow their daughters to participate in sports for fear that it would damage her reputation or violate an unwritten rule about what “good girls” do. While most Muslim women in the United States and Canada don’t face those kinds of barriers, the attitudes that often discourage hijab observant women from sports and fitness have not completely gone away. The pressure of being the first or the only Muslim girl in the gym or on the team can be intimidating.