When I first put on hijab, I did so knowing that I would never let it prevent me from doing the things I love.
If I didn’t want to shake the hands of unrelated men, I gave my reasons confidently. If I wanted to console a good friend when he needed it, you can bet hugging, kleenex and chocolate was involved. Whatever I do or not do is based on my own constantly changing and evolving comfort levels, and not based on the mystical powers of a swirling polyester-cotton blend on my head.
Hijab does not prevent me from running, working out in a co-ed environment, zip lining, watching movies, feeling the wind blow through my hair, riding roller coasters, or from eating tacos (although, it can be difficult to open my mouth wide when it’s on too tight). Sometimes I have to be creative to maintain modesty, but I have never felt that hijab limits me in any way.
Until I wanted to go swimming in public.
Let me be clear, hijab doesn’t stop me from swimming, but rather, a lack of modest swimwear options have kept me out of the pool. The first time I went swimming in hijab was at Dunes Beach. On a spectacular summer day when the sun toasted the sand and shimmered over the water, I jumped into the lake wearing jeans, a dark, long-sleeved t-shirt and a cotton hijab. I had an absolute blast, even though my wet, sandy jeans weighed me down and later chaffed rather painfully.
At the water park and local children’s splash pad, there are tones of Muslimahs wearing hijab, running through the water and going down waterslides fully clothed. But swimming in your abaya is not necessarily easy or always comfortable. Not when compared to gliding through the water in a regular bathing suit — which I can do on a bi-weekly basis when my local pool holds women’s only hours, and when Sister Swim organizes weekend Muslim events.
When the Hubby and I decided to go cruising for our honeymoon, I knew that there would be a lot of swimming involved, so I took action and fashioned myself a modest bathing suit out of a long sleeved rash guard, a pair of long “swym” pants from Speedo and a swimming cap when I wasn’t wearing my Spanish hijab. The entire outfit was incredibly skin tight, so I just covered up with a sarong when out of the water. Everyone at the beach thought I was an Olympic swimmer.
This was fine for then, but since having Eryn, I’ve wanted a little more coverage in the mid-section when swimming in public.
Over the past few years the market has been flooded with Islamic options for modest swimwear — which is awesome.
They advertise long, flowing tunic tops, tight or loose pants and a built-in hijab. Some are incredibly expensive but fun and sporty. Some look more like leisure wear and are made with nylon that clings and turns see-though when wet. But I’ve resisted buying an Islamic swimsuit because I haven’t found a brand with material I like, they’re much too expensive, a little too baggy for my taste and I want the option of going three-quarter-length or cap sleeves when I want to do a little sunning.
So I’m very, very excited to have found Simply Modest Swimwear.
Based in London, Ontario, this company sells pre-made and custom made modest swimwear out of actual bathing suit material.
The suits are incredibly stylish, with a tailored mid-section, and a long top that covers all the way to the mid-thigh. And with the custom option, there are no problems accommodating a suit to be a little longer, looser, or with long sleeves.
I contacted Crystal at SMS and ordered the “Dewdrops” pattern in medium, a second pair of medium black capri bottoms and expected the package to arrive in about a week or two. Within a day Crystal contacted me to apologize, saying that she had run out of the medium capri’s, and offered me an alternate choice. Feeling I could also fit into the large without an issue, I chose that instead.
Then almost without notice, the package showed up at my door within 3 days of ordering. After a second email exchange, Crystal explained that she found a pair of medium capri’s in stock and shipped everything to me express, without an additional charge for the trouble.
If it’s any testament to how much I love my new swimsuit, Eryn lit up and said, “nice” the second she saw it.
The material is incredibly light and silky soft and I had no problem finding my suit size on their standard sizing chart. The measurements were exact. Lucky for me, because I’m short, the matching pants go to mid-calf — but I still have my trusty full-length “swym” gear for when I want a more modest “ankle option”. It’s still a little pricey – less so if you purchase one of their sale items, and even less expensive if you purchase the sewing pattern to make the suit yourself!
We went pool swimming this past week and I had absolutely no problems. The suit dried quickly and floated weightlessly in the water. The skirt section of the tunic stuck a little to my legs when I first got out of the pool, but was quickly fixed with a quick flick of the wrist.
Now all I need is a beach.