Sports Hijabs: The High Street Fashion Brand Transforming Muslim Women’s Lives

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  • In a move that we actually can't believe has taken so long to get off the ground, House of Fraser has started selling 'sports hijabs' to encourage headscarf-wearing Muslim women to exercise

    Here’s a scary stat to make you break a sweat: only 30 per cent of all women in Britain exercise. But before you try to justify the weight of your tote bag as the equivalent of work out, it gets worse: for Muslim women, that figure drops to 18 per cent.

    Of course, there are many varying factors behind this, but one huge issue is the hijab. For the millions of Muslim women who do choose to cover their hair, participating in sport after puberty often isn’t possible, either because of the risk that their headscarves could become loose and fall off, or because they find themselves being questioned by referees because of the number of pins that are exposed around their temples. Sometimes they’re banned from sport altogether – and made to feel like it’s something shameful, such as when the Qatar women’s basketball team were forbidden from wearing their hijabs during matches, and were forced to pull out of the Asian Games last year. Not to mention the fact that traditional, cloth headscarves can be impractical – they get soaked with sweat quickly, and can’t withstand the rain or wind. 

    Which is why House of Fraser’s announcement that they’re stocking a range of sports hijabs couldn’t be more welcome – or overdue. Created by brand Shorso, costing between £12.99 – £14.99, and with an array of patterns, including rainbow stripes and Hawaiian florals, the hijabs are made out of Spandex and Nylon, and are appropriate for all sports – including swimming. Unbelievably, it’s the first time that modest sportswear has been stocked by a high street store.

    This isn’t the only measure being taken to help involve hijab-wearing Muslim women in sport. The Hamilton-Wentworth District Board Foundation in Canada has recently embarked upon a campaign to raise £6500 in funds to provide 240 sports hijabs for their female Muslim students, and many UK schools are following suit – purchasing weather-friendly headscarves for their pupils, in the hope that it’s one less obstacle to stand in the way of their fitness levels.

    Now, with the relaunch of Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign, it looks like there’s no excuse for us not to break a sweat – while wearing a hijab or not.

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