Minneapolis Muslim girls design their own modest sportswear

Their new sportswear addresses worries over tripping on a long, flowing dress, or having a loosely wrapped headscarf come undone during play.

Jim Mone/AP
Muslim girls design sports uniform that fit their religious and cultural dress standards.

When Muslims on the Cedar Riverside Community School girls’ basketball team in Minneapolis found their traditional clothing interfered with sports activities, they sought a solution.

With the help of students at University of Minnesota's College of Design and the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, the girls designed their own sports attire that met both religious and cultural standards.

Jennifer Weber, a coach at Cedar Riverside Community School, witnessed the girls struggling to handle their skirts or keep their hijabs intact while playing sports.

"Seeing them trip over their skirts, seeing them not be able to be safe and be active at the same time is really hard,” coach Jennifer Weber told the Minnesota Daily,  the campus newspaper of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities

“Teams were forming, the girls were being active, but there was nothing for them to wear,” Weber told the Daily.

According to Minnesota Daily, the outfits are created from a breathable fabric and consist of leggings, flexible skirts, long sleeve shirts and a "sport hijab," which is detachable by Velcro to prevent injuries.

"The girls for years have been telling us, 'We would like clothing. We would like clothing,'" Chelsey Thul, a lecturer in kinesiology at the University of Minnesota who helped lead the two-year project told the Associated Press. Their new sportswear is designed to address worries over tripping over a long, flowing dress or having a loosely wrapped hijab come off while in action.

In 2009, the New York Times reported, Muslim women of all ages, though encouraged by their faith to take care of their bodies, find it difficult to stay fit while adhering to their religious principles of modesty because of coed gyms and skimpy workout wear.

The quest for culturally and religious appropriate beach and sportswear has also seen the burqini, which the Christian Science Monitor described in 2007 as "loose enough to preserve Muslim modesty, but light enough to enable swimming."

Over the years, Muslim women's headwear has been barred from major sporting events. In 2007 FIFA banned the hijab during soccer games because of potential choking danger, the restriction was however reversed in 2012. Last year, Qatar's women’s basketball team forfeited a match at the Asian Games after the players were asked in accordance with International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to remove their headscarves in order to play. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.