Sunday, June 24, 2012

Swimming Fashion



 I'll never forget the first time I saw Egyptian women swimming at a public beach, covered with burkas to conform with a stricter version of Muslim dress. I was stunned. All that black fabric had to be hot under the sun, and I was worried about them drowning wearing all those clothes. Times have changed a little. The second picture is the new, younger Egyptian women's style of swimming while remaining modestly covered. (Burkas and modesty aren't mandated. Other Egyptian women wear what they please, including bikinis.)


Before you get too horrified at ridiculous convention that puts women in burkas while men can swim in trunks, let's take a little trip through historic women's fashion...

Everything Old is New Again

In China, small feet were considered beautiful, so women broke their foot-bones and bound them to half their size. They could barely walk. A certain singing diva seems to like the look of abnormal feet, and teens are jumping on board, wearing super-high platforms.


In France, stratospheric wigs were common for women in Marie Antoinette's time. The things smelled awful and were flea-infested. Now, it's hair extensions sewn to roots and half shaven heads and dye-jobs. And did you know that some chemical hair relaxers use levels of formaldehyde that put salon workers at a health risk?


Corsets were fashionable in many countries and many time periods. Now, there's a group of super-skinny celebrities and models who starve themselves to look "beautiful" instead of wearing corsets.


I'd like to blame all these dreadful things on men, but I'm starting to think it's really women who are doing it to themselves. Maybe it's time for women to stop being fashion slaves...

15 comments:

Jessie Harrell said...

the difference as I see it is, women make themselves fashionable -- they do it to themselves. with the burkas (and perhaps the bound feet in China), the women don't have a choice. still, it's nice to see the Egyptian women have lightened up a little bit. what do the tourists wear at the beach? I assume they don't have to be covered from head to ankle...

Kelly Hashway said...

Wow! Those shoes look really painful to wear. Really painful.

Kate Larkindale said...

Whenever I see girls wearing those crazy shoes I wonder how the hell they think they can have a good night out. How can you dance or even get from a to b when you're essentially wearing stilts? Toss in a few drinks, a flight of stairs and you may as well have the ambulance on speed dial.

In Australia a swimsuit designer has designed a bathing suit especially for Muslim women called the Burkini. It means the Muslim girls don't have to miss out on swimming at school.

tfwalsh said...

Some fashions from history are pretty awful and I don't see how miniature feet or no waist are sexy. Just crazy. Unfortunately if most of society dictates something is popular, many women follow suit and fall for peer pressure. I think women should wear what they want, regardless of what anyone says... when will that become fashion??

Medeia Sharif said...

I'm always saddened seeing bound feet. They look so painful.

It's interesting seeing how women's fashions change or stay the same. I'll always think about comfort, though.

Catherine Stine said...

My first reaction is OUCH! My second reaction is to laugh. Last year, I went to an exhibition of satirical fashion illustration, and it's not just women. In the 1800's men had huge hair nests on top of their heads. And frilly cuffs and other ridiculous getups. Fashion can be weird, funny and just plain painful!

Alyssa said...

Hey I've given you an award from over at my blog! :)

http://www.lifeisgood-forever21.blogspot.com/2012/06/another-award-liebster-blog-award.html

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Great post! I've always been more of a "comfort over fashion" gal, but this history really drills it in. Broken feet? No freaking thank you.

Kim Lajevardi said...

Great post! My husband and I were just talking about how Muslim-style dress has changed. As you know, my husband is from Iran, and we were discussing how the women there do so much stylizing to the head scarves that they put hair-dos to shame. The government can try to dictate social mores via style, but young people always find ways around it.

By the way, you'll never catch me in those shoes. ;-)

Aubrie said...

Ouch those red shoes make me wince. It's so neat to meet a blogger from Egypt. :)

BLHmistress said...

I love high heels but those are insane. Thanks for stopping by my blog and following. I am following back :)

nutschell said...

Yup. I never was one to conform to fashion. I'd pick comfort over beauty anytime :)
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Cherie Reich said...

The new swimsuit they wear instead of the burka looks much safer. *wonders how someone does swim with a burka*

Some of the hair styles are pretty cool, but I don't see how people walk in those shoes.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I've read where women sometimes broke their ribs wearing those corsets. So thankful that style has passed. As for those shoes, how on earth do they walk in them? And I'd melt in one of those burkas in the Texas heat. Of course it's just as hot in Asia, or hotter. Poor ladies. As for the hair, I remember teasing our hair to make it stand up and a streak of peroxide down the middle. Guess times don't change so much, just different styles.

Lauren said...

Yes, *people* do it to themselves. "How intelligent is it to start the day by tying a noose around your neck?"

Yes, they sometimes broke ribs and did other serious internal damage with the corsets. The thing I find funny is that corsets, high heels, pompadours, even bras were created for men. Then the women picked it up.

As far as fashion being mandated by law (as in the case of the burkha) fashion is mandated by law everywhere you go. Think about it.

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