After reading Annette Lamothe-Ramos’ piece about walking around in a burqa all day, I felt, like many of you, I had to write something in response. I am not going to throw insults at her or defame the things she said. Those were her opinions and perspectives. These are mine. I’m an American Muslim college student. My family is from Bangladesh, but I was born in Hawaii and raised in Georgia.
Before I continue further, I want to say that the hijab/burqa/abaya/niqab is simply something that we Muslim women wear to protect our beauty from the public. It is mentioned in the Quran, our holy book, but I don’t want to get into the religious aspects of wearing it. We believe that a woman’s beauty—her hair, her face, the shape of legs and buttocks, her bust, her bare arms—is not for just any man to see. We cherish our bodies so much, we don’t want to give everyone the right to see and enjoy them.
When I first read Annette’s article, I was offended. Then I thought maybe she needs to see something from the other perspective. My experiences with these garments are much different than hers. For one thing, she says that most of the articles she’s read about burqas reference “oppression.” Maybe I just read different things than she does, but I’ve found a lot online about burqas that don’t discuss oppression at all. So I decided to address some of the things she discussed in the article and explain them to her. Hopefully she—and the rest of you—will understand burqas and hijabs a little better.
As a practicing Muslim, I have worn a burqa outside quite a few times. Mostly, I dress modestly and cover what needs to be covered. Yes, it does get hot in the summer and I might break a sweat sometimes. But back in the day when I used to have my arms and neck exposed, I used to get sunburns, which was worse than breaking a sweat. And wearing modest clothing protects us from UV rays much better than sunscreen. I’d much rather be a little uncomfortable a few months out of the year than get skin cancer.
The Wind and Rain
Wearing a burqa is actually quite helpful on certain occasions, like when it gets rainy or windy. I remember once, before I was a practicing Muslim, getting soaked when I got caught out in the rain at school. My wet clothes clung to my body like a second skin, and not in a flattering way. Everyone could see every little curve of my body, and all I could do was run to the restroom and try to dry myself off in front of the inadequate hand dryer. Another time, I went out with my friends with a pretty dress on. All of a sudden the wind picked up and blew my dress in all the wrong directions, forcing me to hold my dress down in one hand and hold my shopping bags in the other. It got to the point where I was frustrated and just wanted to go home or wait in the car. Now when I go out on a windy day, I feel safe. I don’t feel like “Batman” or anything of that sort as Annette did; I feel free because I can enjoy the wind without holding my clothes down for dear life.