Can You Believe All This Burkini Fuss? + My Swimming Story

*PS: My blog's look is still under construction!

I honestly can't, because as far as I'm concerned, "burkini" has been around for years and years, so why now? I mean, I can give a few guesses as to why now; I just want those people banning it to give answers. Apparently they're all giving different answers - or more precisely, different excuses. When I saw those photos of male policemen forcing the lady to take off her modest cover-up on a Nice beach, I was filled with two emotions: disgust, and more strongly, sadness.
(PS: An accidental Inside Out reference, excuse that.)

But isn't it comforting to know that where there's darkness, there's a whole lot of light? I read today that a group of people stood outside the French Embassy in London and held a protest against the "burkini" ban, and my heart filled with pride to see non-Muslim females protesting alongside the Muslims.
Seriously, THANK YOU to these women who decided to stick together with other women, regardless of race, religion, and age. #grlpwr #feminism

. . . . . . .

I own a "burkini". Sure I do; how else do I swim? To be honest, I don't even call it "burkini"; to me, it's just a swimming attire. When I'm in a hurry to pack for a vacation somewhere with beach or a pool (typical me, leaving things last minute), most probably you would hear me going around the house saying in agony "Where is my swimming suit Shahhh WHEREEE" (Note: Usually it would be wedged in between piles of dirty laundry. Unwashed, of course.)

What I call it shouldn't matter, but for the sake of easier understanding, let's call it a "burkini".

Do you know where I got my burkini from? I got it from Speedo - you know, the brand that sponsors Olympic-level swimmers - after getting recommendations from my younger brother who is an excellent, avid swimmer, and who also happens to be a certified lifeguard - and so are my other three siblings: one older sister, one older brother, and my younger sister. They're all certified lifeguards, except for me (as to why that is, that's another story for another day!).

When we were young, my dad always made us go out and play sports instead of staying cooped up in the house watching TV. It was the best time: we got some fresh air, we got closer just from playing together, and more importantly we were healthier kids because of it. My dad also hired a swimming teacher to give us all proper swimming lessons at the local pool club. In my case, I had mild asthma, so the swimming was combating the asthma by making my lungs stronger, too.

My sisters and I grew up swimming wearing normal swimming suits. The normal one-piece you guys wear, that's what we wore, too. Over the years, we were swimming lesser and lesser, but learning to swim is like learning to ride a bike; you'll never forget how to do it and you'll always find pleasure in exercising it, so we still occasionally swim when we get the chance. Meanwhile, my brother continues to swim regularly, sometimes competitively (he's competed in open-water swimming marathon too, which is badass). 

Over the years, my sisters and I grew up to be women and with time, we chose to don the hijab - when each of us were ready, in our own time. I put it on first, then my younger sister followed suit, then finally my older sister did it. But did that stop us from ever swimming again? Of course not. We have the choice to continue to swim, thanks to these "burkinis".

I'll be honest with y'all: I don't find burkinis cute or flattering. Nu uh. I'm still waiting for a brand to produce something out-of-the-box with these burkinis, and produce something that we would clamour to get our hands on. But these burkinis will do for now! As someone who's into the business of looking good, I definitely took my time deciding which burkini in Speedo to buy, when I finally settled on my pink-sleeved set because, well, I have an affinity for fuchsia, and it was the snazziest one they had in the store at the time.

. . . . . . .

I kept reading that people say females who wear the hijabi - and now the burkini - are "oppressed". How so? Imagine you getting up every morning and standing in front of your closet and asking yourself, "What should I wear today? My denim cutt-offs with the classic white shirt, or that tank knit dress that makes my ass looks bombass?" Your options, your choice.

Believe it or not, it's the same with me; no one is standing next to me when I get dressed every morning, forcing me to put the hijab on, or my long-sleeved jacket on, or my lined ripped jeans on. I've chosen to wear short denim skirts and LBD in my early 20's; I'm choosing now to dress modestly.
It is always my choice.

Choices do not equal oppression.

Sure, it says so in the Quran that women are to cover up and look modest. Sure, in Islam, drinking alcohol is forbidden. Sure, Muslim children are taught to never raise our voice when talking to our mothers.
But does anyone - men AND women - have the power to physically force Muslim women to wear the hijab? No. Do ALL Muslims abstain from drinking alcohol? No. Are Muslim children really little angels who never ever get into arguments with their mothers? NO, because just like you and I and any other children that ever lived, we were all rebellious at some point in our life, and don't always realise mothers deserve much better.

My point is, it was my choice to wear the hijab. I choose to honour that part of my religion. It was my choice to never consume alcohol. It was my choice to put my mother through heartaches when I was a teenager learning my ways. My options. My choices. Never oppressed.

I have as many choices as any other women out there. I could wake up tomorrow and decide "I don't want to wear the hijab anymore", and no one - NO HUMAN BEING - is allowed to force me to not do so. People can advise - I always welcome advices, because I always strive to be better - people can say things, people will judge, but nothing should ever be forcefully, unwillingly enforced. What I do when it comes to the practising of my faith is only a business between me and God, and no other person. That is what Islam, and what other religions, should be all about.
I don't tell people how to choose, and I certainly expect others to not tell me how to choose either.

But when you do tell me and the other Muslim women around the world to take off what we chose to put on that morning? Now that is oppression.

How are we OK living in a world where it is acceptable for women to sunbathe topless at a beach but not acceptable for women who chose to keep her skin covered at the same beach? How?

. . . . . . .

I am so glad I live in Malaysia where people of other races and religions don't bat an eyelid when they see Muslim women in burkinis. But I feel for my sisters over there in France, and other parts of the world. I feel yah, girls.

All this banning, it's all just people overthinking. There is no hidden agenda, there is no ploy, there is no nothing. Seriously, you know what we want? We just want to SWIM. We just want to SPLASH AROUND IN THE WATER, for goodness' sake. We just want to experience harmless water-related fun activities while not having to wear leggings and a long-sleeved t-shirt - which will not be good for the water in the pool, by the way.
Honestly, why is that so darn hard to accept? Honestly, it is really as simple as that.

We like to be in the water and we like to have fun at the beach - just like any of you do. So I would really love it - pretty please - if you just let my sisters around the world, Muslims or non-Muslims (apparently non-Muslims love burkinis too! Just ask Nigella Lawson!) to get back in our burkini and sit on the beach and play in the blue-hued water and the swimming pool, in peace, with the rest of the world?

*photos of me in my Speedy "burkini" taken in late 2015 during my friend's Bachelorette party!


  1. Lovely post, now imagine how lots of Muslims say you don't have to go to beach at first place, and all burkinis are defining body and these stuff .. kudos for you for speaking up :)

    1. Hi Farida, so nice to see you visit again!
      I'm really just sharing my story in the hope I could help someone understand our side more.
      Thank you so much for reading this, and thank you for commenting <3

  2. This whole issue really annoys and upsets me Liyana!
    I find it abhorrent that anyone should think they have the right to tell any women how to dress.
    On the beach, or anywhere.
    To be humiliated like that as's disgusting!

    Imagine the uproar if the police were going around covering-up women in bikinis?
    Or those with their boobs out.

    Much like the lipstick "issue"...we should have the right to make our own choices.
    You choose to wear your hijab.
    I choose to wear my skinny jeans.
    No one tells us what to do!

    I worry about what comes next when such acts are deemed acceptable?
    Depressing stuff. :o(

    P.S. On a side note....the burkini designs seem so dull and boring. Come on swimwear designers...up the style-ante a little!

    1. Yes, exactly. It certainly is depressing. Burkini-clad women AND bikini-clad women should have the right to enjoy beach-time - together! And you're right: to be asked to take off a layer OR to be asked to add on a layer - especially by men in public! - is to subject the person who's asked to humiliation. Not acceptable!
      I too worry about what's next to come, but I have to admit, I find great comfort in the solidarity shown by women (and men too, yes) from all over the world on this particular subject. Including you. Thank you, Samantha <3

    2. By the way, Samantha - YESSSS we need better burkini designs!!!


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Hi, I'm Liyana

I'm a style & lifestyle blogger based in sunny (and ever humid) Malaysia. On The Good Weekender, you can find typed journals of my evolving modest personal style, travel adventures, skincare/beauty updates, home decor things, and stories of other bits and pieces of my everyday life. I hope you'll enjoy flipping through these pages of my virtual book!