Thursday 19 January 2012

Radical Fashion Statement: The See-Through Burqa

A burqa (Arabic pronunciation: [ˈbʊrqɑʕ]; also transliterated burkha, burka or burqua from Arabic: برقع burqu' or burqa' ) is an enveloping outergarment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies in public places. The burqa is usually understood to be the woman's loose body-covering (Arabic: jilbāb), plus the head-covering (Arabic: ḥijāb, taking the most usual meaning), plus the face-veil (Arabic: niqāb).

All over the world, opinions are divided on the burqa. Is it a statement of the oppression of women within Islamic societies, or a conscious and free choice made by intelligent women? Is it a statement that men are pigs, doomed to see women (insofar as they can see them) as sex objects? (In the last case, one might equally argue that men should poke their eyes out, freeing women to wear what they please.)

I’ve been pondering these questions for a while now, and researching the history of the burqa and its alleged connections with Islam.  It turns out that the burqa predates Islam by several centuries, and also that certain ultra-Orthodox Jews wear it. Incidentally, the all-black equivalent is called ahaya rather then burqa.

The next logical step, as a way of resolving these issues, is the see-through burqa – a genuinely radical fashion statement. I have even commissioned a local dress designer to make several versions, based on a pattern for a traditional burqa. I dream of presenting a whole line of burqas at a fashion show. The models will wear undergarments from Victoria’s Secret. I hope to be interviewed by Jeanne Becker on Fashion Television, right there with Karl Lagerfeld and the rest.

For more information on the history of the burqa, see


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