Leotards and feminity: Stop shaming women for being women

One of society’s favorite pastimes is telling women how to live their lives

Yara al-Wazir
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Earlier this week, Malaysia’s Farah Ann Abdul Hadi won six gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games for her outstanding gymnastics performance. Instead of supporting her efforts to inspire athletes, she was condemned for wearing a revealing leotard.

To me, Farah was an inspiration and a role model for perseverance, control, and resilience. Society is always pushing women to embrace their femininity – what’s more feminine than a leotard?


Judging is an exercise for God, not for dream-crushers, and was the exact response that social media users gave anyone who doubted this.

Facebook is pushing women to thrive

The response to Farah’s case on Twitter and Facebook echoed responses to similar stories. After a Facebook campaign attempted to shame ‘inappropriately dressed’ women in the Middle East was due to launch in Ramadan, society was divided. While anonymous members posted pictures attempting to ‘shame’ these women into righteousness, Facebook sided with a woman’s right to wear whatever she wants and removed the page.

It seems that one of society’s favorite pastimes is telling women how to live their lives.

Yara al-Wazir

Also, an Iranian’s activist decision to turn to social media to voice her frustrations over a law that requires women in Iran to wear the hijab was no surprise. With a video documentary on Vox, a Facebook page with over 800,000 followers, and participants from around the world posting their pictures without the hijab, it resonated with thousands across the globe. It is up to the very websites that host this content to protect the participants’ freedoms.

Shaming women for being women

It seems that one of society’s favorite pastimes is telling women how to live their lives – what to wear, what not to wear, when to speak, and what to share. From appropriately dressing when wearing the hijab to imposing a ‘taboo’ stamp on talking about their time of the month, I can’t blame women for being confused. To me, it feels that there’s a cultural divide attempting to impose limitations on what being a woman means, and how she should be. The debate is not even mature enough to discuss equal rights or equal pay.

Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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