Why do some ‘Love to Hate’ Modest Activewear?


In 1919, what a woman chose to wear was indecent whilst in 2018 what another woman chose to wear was too covering.

In 2012, the Amateur International Boxing Association suggested that female boxers wear skirts, not shorts, to differentiate themselves from men. This followed a similarly unsuccessful attempt in 2011 by the Badminton World Federation to make women players wear skirts and dresses.

In 2004, Sepp Blatter, then the president of FIFA, the international soccer federation, suggested female players dress in tighter, smaller shorts, to flaunt their assets and increase the global appeal which in his opinion will take place via objectification and not skill.

“We women all want to feel good in our skin, and show that every woman, everybody, should decide what to wear,” said German gymnast Sarah Voss, as she explained her decision to wear a full body suit at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championship in April 2021. On Sunday, she was joined by her teammates who wore unitards that covered their arms and legs for the Tokyo Olympics’ qualifying round, making a statement against what they described as the “sexualisation” of women in sports. However they were eliminated during the qualifying rounds.

They have cast a spotlight on issues of sexism, the objectification of the female body, and who gets to decide what kind of dress is considered “appropriate” when it comes to athletic performance. Today women athletes everywhere are protesting rules and conventions that expect them to wear outfits which have less to do with function and more to do with glamour and “sex appeal”. Most sporting bodies remain conformist and sexist in their approach to athletic outfits.

Why is it difficult for women to find workout wear that is focused on performance and comfort without being short or tight? There seems to be an unwritten rule amongst brands that manufacture women’s exercise clothes that if it is long or loose you will not get the best performance out of it, be it the strict policing of women’s uniform in sports competitions or advertisements. People just refuse to let women wear what they want and still ace the skill they need to ace with practice and focus.

“I never experienced any difference in my performance based on my clothes except mental peace that helped me focus my attention on my task at hand, having access to modest activewear has helped me achieve that”.

Samana Karachiwala, Badminton player.


“We have seen in many studies that when an athlete feels better about what they are wearing, they perform better,” said Catherine Sabiston, a professor of sports and exercise psychology at the University of Toronto. Briana Scurry, retired international soccer player of the United States says athletes “should feel like a superhero” in their uniforms and not have to worry about how they appear in them.

Muslim women have always been fighting and voicing their opinion against the bias they face in the choice of wearing a headscarf or hijab while competing , it is only now that many international publishers are also speaking against the strict uniform policy such as The New York Times, The Print and even Vogue. Recently, controversy erupted when the Norwegian women’s beach handball team who chose to wear shorts instead of bikini bottoms as a sign of protest was fined for not following the uniform code.

However, the International Volleyball Federation softened its regulations in 2016 to allow players to wear hijabs in a bid to make the sport more welcoming.  In June 2021, the rules of U.S.A. Gymnastics were changed to allow female gymnasts to wear shorts over their leotards — just like men. Change is picking up as we work on bringing in the change. For muslim athletes to have the choice there also needs to be accessibility of good modest sportswear, organizations and governing bodies need to invest to research and bring clothes that fulfill their needs and help them focus on their performance.

When participating in any sports, you need breathability, flexibility and comfort. Your outfit should not weigh you down in any manner and at Némah we have taken care of all of those activewear needs to give you a seamless exercise and gym experience.

Our modest activewear t-shirts Athena and Artemis are welcomed as your second skin in recycled fabric that let you flex your A-fame fearlessly and smell like success in our odor-free technology with a 4-way stretch built to move. It is built for performance and to push your potential that helps keep your #FocusOnYou.

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