In 2019 when Halima Aden first graced the pages of Sports Illustrated with images of her posing in water, clad in a turquoise burkini, it sent ripples through the swimwear fashion industry (pun intended). It was the first time throughout history that modest swimwear for girls were receiving such evident representation.
Although it had many effects on the industry, not all of which were positive, the most prominent effect, of course, was the normalization of modest swimwear for those who previously shied away from anything that involved getting into the water in public. Muslim girls everywhere could now proudly join the swim team at school or compete in the Olympics without fear or hesitation.
Another major impact that the photo shoot in question had on the fashion industry was how it put emphasis on ease of movement in an outfit that didn't expose 90% of their skin. Women can now be covered and active at the same time.
In fact, the popularity that burkini had garnered for itself was mostly because it ensured that women no longer had to choose between modesty and comfort. They could have both at the same time. The priority of swimwear no longer needed to be the objectification of the wearer. This simple shift in focus has swayed the entire focus of the industry from exposure of the skin to the practicality of the attire.
The past couple of years have seen significant growth in the modest swimwear industry with more and more companies introducing their own lines of modest swimwear and newer fashion labels springing up everywhere claiming to be specialists in the art of modesty as well as modernity. Where only one company had dared to venture previously, there are now several.
But Muslim women aren’t complaining because this has allowed them a greater variety to chose from. They no longer have to run into 4 people wearing the same burkini as them every time they visit the beach and don’t have to wear the same style to their swimming pool every day.