I didn't feel like I belonged,
In my tights, scarf and t-shirt with the sleeves long.
The constant stares are never kind,
What are you doing here, they seemed to ask: Do you mind?
I minded a little, and it was becoming a lot,
Yet, why did I care, for what?
For the stares of strangers, as harsh as they are,
Cannot beat the bigger picture, which is never far...
One of my best friends is from South Africa, and loves the beach.
We always joke though that when her and I head into the ocean, we look like fresh tourists that would probably end up drowning on a TV show like 'Bondi Rescue'.
Why? Well given our 'ethnic' appearance, the loud squeals when hit by a wave and the fact that we - or I at least - don't wear the usual Australian beach attire means we look a bit different to your average aussie surfie. Gotta love fitting into a stereotype right?
As a teenager, the question I got asked the most by curious classmates was always along the same lines.
"So how do you go to the beach if you're all covered up?"
I would always make some answer up that seemed to make sense. "Oh, I find a way". Truth was, my family just never really went to the beach! Both my mother and I wore the hijab, the beach was a little far and I wasn't a huge fan of swimming anyway. It wasn't a sport we were ever going to be competitive in. When was the last time you saw a Sudanese Olympic Swimmer?
Mashallah, no one can deny the beauty, the power, the draw of an ocean. So now, all grown up, what are the options?
I have been known to wade in wearing my normal, everyday clothes: a long dress or regular pants and a top and so on. In my mind, I look like this:
Where as in reality, I look more like someone who took a wrong turn and ended up drenched.
Most of the time though, I wear a pair of long running tights, a large, voluminous top and a bandana like scarf that is often misinterpreted.
It's hot, but you get used to it.
It definitely doesn't blend in, but I tell myself people are staring because they think I have swag.
I chose to cover up for reasons that meant something to me. Yes, going to the beach is an exercise in hilarity, but who said it was going to be easy all the time?
I've decided the beach is awesome, majestic and something that I am going to embrace and enjoy. I may look like a tourist, or a Sudanese Nile Perch out of water, but I'll be enjoying myself every step of the way! #Yolo, right? :P