Hijabi athletes aren’t new. While mainstream media and big sporting leagues are just catching on, hijabis have been kicking butt in sports forever. However, exercising and competing while dressed in full sleeves and scarves comes with some pretty unique experiences.
We’ve compiled a quick guide for you with do’s, don’ts, and reminders for interacting with your friendly hijabi athlete without sounding ignorant as heck:
1. Do not, under any circumstances, ask her if she’s hot. This is the most commonly asked question that hijabi athletes get, and it never gets less annoying. I promise you, 99.8% of the time, the answer is yes. If you feel the urge to ask this question, take a look at your nearest weather forecast. Would that temperature be hot to you? If so, it’s probably the same for your slightly sweaty hijabi friend.
2. Yes, she can breathe in that. How else could she have kicked your butt in that game or your last race? I think this is the most ridiculous of all the questions hijabi athletes get. It sounds silly, but the amount of times I’ve received this one is incredible. Do people ask you if you can breathe when you wear a scarf in the winter? No!
3. Just because you won’t tell anyone, probably isn’t a good enough reason for her to take it off. No, not even “just for a little bit.” Every time someone makes this suggestion, I am actually astounded by the sheer audacity. This question has the same energy as a friend suggesting you break your fast during Ramadan because they won’t tell anyone. Just a little pointer, this is super rude, never do this.
4. Listen, I completely understand how hijabi athletes might seem like superheroes to you if you’ve never exercised in more than shorts and a t-shirt, but your constant exclamations over how amazing it is that we “wear so much clothing” do, in fact, get annoying. It was cute the first time, but you’ve said the same thing every day this season, Sharon. Please stop.
5. This one should be pretty straightforward if you have any manners at all, but stop staring. Seriously, stop. If you’re going to insist on gawking, at least introduce yourself or say salaam or something. Otherwise, it’s just creepy.
6. We really do appreciate the hype, but turning every single one of our athletic achievements into news stories and articles isn’t helping our case. My personal record is the same as 100 other girls in the region, it’s not some phenomena just because I did it with a hijab on.
7. Your little efforts to help a gal out don’t go unnoticed. Becoming a human shield when the sweaty hijab situation needs fixing in public is appreciated. We see you. Thank you. P.S. Always remember to keep your hands to yourself! While your impromptu shield is helpful, we’d prefer that you didn’t try to tuck loose strands of hair into our hijabs yourself!
8. Lastly, remember that we’re just fellow athletes. Our choice of attire does not make us an anomaly. We’re all here just trying to be the best at whatever sport we do.
Next time a hijabi joins your sports team, or befriends you at the gym, keep these pointers in mind, or else you might just get left on read next time you try to schedule a gym sesh.