Concealing and Revealing Intersectionality

Intersectionality: Concealing & Revealing: The Legacy of American Swimwear seeks to open a dialogue about the lack of intersectional representation in women’s swimwear by showcasing its narrow and exclusive history of female empowerment. Recently, however, various swimwear labels have sought to address the lack of intersectionality in women’s fashion by pioneering designs for minority consumers. Though they are far from ubiquitous on the market, these attempts at diversifying women’s swimwear are a pivotal and groundbreaking milestone in the history of American swimwear.

This Nike’s hijab swimsuit addresses a central issue hijabs posed for women in swim: they were a “barrier, rather than a conduit, to enjoying the water” (Nike, 2017). Launched in 2017 and sold at retailers in NYC, London, and Dublin, the Nike Victory Swim Collection seeks to open the doors of swimwear by offering modest athletes the opportunity to fully participate in swim with a full-coverage hijab swimsuit. The suit offers modest women full coverage without compromising their range of motion or comfort in the water, allowing vigorous activities such as body-surfing, diving into a pool, or racing down a lane, without fighting the heavy fabric of a hijab or stopping to keep their hijab in place. As FSAD alum Martha Moore (‘82) wrote in a public statement, “The more we listened, the more possibility we saw to serve female athletes in new dimensions… We’re excited to inspire more women to see themselves in sport by thinking creatively and designing inclusively.” (Time Magazine, 2017)

The line consists of the following pieces, which women can purchase individually or as a whole set: a swimming hijab, a tunic top, and swim leggings. Each piece is made of a warp-knit fabric that is lightweight and eliminates excess cling, breathable, fast-drying, and delivers a UPF rating of 40+. The swim leggings and tunic provide a secure fit while also allowing the wearer a speedy swim with its side vents. The swim hijab contains an inner elastic that keeps the hair secure. The suit is in a Size L, as the collection comes in an inclusive size range. Nike’s Hijab Swimsuit occupies an unprecedented market space, pioneering a design that allows women of all religious identities, cultures, and body sizes to participate comfortably in the water.

These children’s swim shorts are designed by Splash About, a swimwear line for children and adults. The brand is especially well-known for its swimming aids for children and babies. They create groundbreaking “swim diapers” that help babies and toddlers of all ages learn to swim with its ergonomic protection against leakages. The design is soft, comfortable, and secure, and the technical design ensures optimal coverage: its specialist fabric protects the base of the spine and the medical-grade silicone around the thigh forms an effective seal, thus securing any accidents in the shorts and ensuring it doesn’t leak into the pool. The fabric offers UPF 50+ sun protection, and the pink floral print makes it appealing and fun for children to wear. This swimsuit is for children of ages 2-3 years-old but is available in a wide range of sizes for children. Its innovative design makes children’s swimwear more practical and safe, while still ensuring optimal aesthetic appeal

This rainbow Pride unisuit is designed by TomboyX, a size-inclusive underwear brand designed for wearers of all gender identities. The brand is unprecedented in that its products do not conform to a menswear/womenswear gender binary. They prioritize comfort, ethical production, inclusivity, and self-expression, and are one of the first established trans-inclusive underwear brands. TomboyX uses sustainable materials and earth-conscious production facilities, and all garments are produced in women-owned production facilities.

Swim Sleeveless 6" Unisuit
Swim Sleeveless 6" Unisuit

It is available and fit-tested from size XS-4X and is created with a moisture-wicking, breathable OEKO-TEX® material, offering a comfortable fit to all, regardless of size. The antibacterial, odor-resistant fabric also offers UPF 50 sun protection, and is coated with a treatment made of crab and shrimp shells as opposed to synthetic chemicals. The full-length front zipper makes it easy to put on, and the lined front offers support and coverage. The smooth flat lock is chafing-resistant. This pride swimsuit subverts the gender binary perpetuated by the swimwear industry in both its aesthetic and its silhouette, offering a functional, comfortable, and celebratory swimsuit for individuals of all gender identities and sizes.