As we approach the warmer months in the Northern Hemisphere, the rising temperatures seem to not only be making people sweat, but also judgmental of what others are wearing. Let me be more specific: these warmer days bring nice vibes, but also truly act as a burden for women.
Growing up I used to wear shirts with short sleeves and even capri pants here and there. As I became older and was more drawn to learning about the meanings behind the teachings in Islam, I made the personal decision to not wear clothes that revealed my arms or legs. It’s funny because out of the twelve months in a year, my modest fashion choices seem to be a real concern for others for about five of those months. As soon as the days start getting to 70°F and up in New York, as a woman, you’re expected to whip out your shorts and knee length dresses. There is nothing wrong with wearing shorts or dresses, but please, don’t try and make me feel like I should be too.
Getting comments such as, “Aren’t you hot in that!?” when I’m wearing a full length cardigan and boyfriend jeans, is extremely unnecessary. Why would you say that to someone anyway? It’s just awkward – how am I supposed to respond? Over the years I’ve noticed that people only relay these types of vapid statements to women and girls. You will never (or rarely) catch anyone saying anything of this nature to a guy. I’ve seen men in full suits when it’s 80°F outside, and absolutely no one questions them about it. It’s fine for them. They don’t need to show their skin. No one expects or has been trained to have entitlement over their bodies or their choices.
“There is nothing wrong with wearing shorts or dresses, but please, don’t try and make me feel like I should be too.”
I’ve thought about this concept a lot. It’s honestly not rocket science to understand. It’s easy to see how women and girls are hyper-sexualized to an insane degree. It starts young and develops and becomes a part of our psyche. The “fashion icons” we idealize and give great importance to in mainstream media, dictate how we perceive women in our everyday lives. We begin to expect all women to look and act a certain way. I will stress this again; there is nothing wrong with women who choose to wear shorts, dresses, or anything else for that matter. There is a real problem however, with how much freedom and agency we have over our own bodies. As soon as people see a woman who is wearing clothes that cover her entire body, it’s as if they see it as an invitation to scrutinize and question her to no end. We don’t have a choice anymore. I don’t want you to look at me. I don’t want you to look at my body. My body is mine, and I choose what to do with it. My personal decisions are mine and I don’t need to provide answers for anyone who really doesn’t know or care about me, but is only asking if I’m “so hot in all those clothes,” because they aren’t used to not seeing a woman’s flesh. You’ve been hypnotized to keep your mind within a tiny box. You primarily see women for their bodies. We are objects to the human eye, no different from automobiles at this point. Regardless of what I wear, I will be objectified and belittled down to what I’m wearing. So, I might as well wear what I want and not be succumbed to the pressure of wearing what will please the people. My purpose is far greater than pleasing people.
This also goes out to all of my sisters who wear the hijab every day. I can’t imagine the incessant nagging they go through during these months (let alone the entire year). This is also for women out there who simply don’t feel comfortable with showing off their body for whatever reason. You do not know what a person is going through or why a person chooses to live their life a certain way. By you exclaiming, “WOW! Aren’t you sweating with all of those clothes on?!” you’re impeding on someone’s personal choice. “Aren’t you hot in that?” is not a question. It is a social indication that if you are a woman who isn’t revealing her body, then you are an “other.” It’s a statement that highlights the ever so present, and undying patriarchal structures that keep us imprisoned in immobile mindsets. ‘Asking’ someone if they’re “hot in that” is not a question at all, but a firm reminder that women are not allowed to be in charge of their own bodies and their own choices.
Leave people the hell alone when it comes to what they wear, it literally does not matter. Why are people so offended by me not showing my skin? Also, newsflash, when it’s 90°F out, everyone is going to be hot. Whether you’re wearing a bikini or a burqa, heat is heat and the sun’s power does not let up just because you’re showing some more skin.
“Why are people so offended by me not showing my skin?”
I wear what I want to wear. I will continue to dress how I want based on my own personal decisions and beliefs. I wear what I want to wear and I do not have to give anyone an explanation about it. Ever.