Current school sports uniforms often do not fit within the cultural and religious ideals that many Muslim girls hold. Muslim females often practice some form of modest dress, fully covering their body and hair, and wearing loosely fitted clothing. Therefore, many Muslim girls either compromise their beliefs to participate in sports at school or do not participate at all. This research focuses on the experiences of Muslim girls living in Minnesota, which has a significant Muslim population. This qualitative mixed methods study aims to understand if Minnesota Muslim girls perceive current sports uniforms as a barrier to participation in school sports, and if so, how we can design more culturally sensitive sport uniforms that would better meet their physical activity needs. A better understanding of Minnesota Muslim girls’ experiences with current sports uniforms, as well as their preferences and suggestions for future uniforms, can afford insight and opportunity to challenge clothing as a structural barrier to their participation in school sports. This is especially important for Muslim girls as they face higher rates of social isolation at school (Britto, 2008). By affording these girls the same opportunities to participate in sports as their peers, more inclusive and diverse school communities can be supported and created. This research focused on three main research questions: 1) What are Minnesota Muslim girls’ perceptions and experiences with current school sports uniforms?, 2) What are Minnesota Muslim girls' preferences for the design of school sports uniforms?, and 3) What are some criteria for the design of culturally sensitive school sports uniforms for Minnesota Muslim girls who practice modest dress? Twenty-three Muslim girls from a Minnesota high school who practice modest dress participated in the study. Main findings suggest that: current school sports uniforms do not meet the Minnesota Muslim girls’ needs; that wearing their street clothes to participate in sports is not an effective option; the current uniforms create conflicts for the girls’ Muslim identity; and they have experienced negative social interactions at their school related to the current sports uniforms. The participants’ preferences for the design of new culturally sensitive sports uniforms include having their modesty needs met, and having the uniform meet their performance needs for participation in the sport, while also making sure they feel socially confident in the uniform. Design criteria were created from these findings to facilitate the design and selection of new culturally sensitive school sports uniforms for Minnesota Muslim girls who practice modest dress. The implementation of these design criteria can help eliminate Minnesota Muslim girls’ barriers to participation in school sports.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. August 2017. Major: Design, Housing and Apparel. Advisor: Elizabeth Bye. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 159 pages.
Understanding Minnesota Muslim Girls’ Experiences with Current Sports Uniforms and Their Preferences for the Design of Culturally Sensitive Sports Uniforms.
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