Munira Yusoff

Hijab-wearing pole dancer defies labels

Who says girls must like pink, and boys must like blue? Who says girls should play with dolls, while boys with their toy guns?

In today’s society where everything seems so stereotypical, one individual stands out for challenging labels in our society through her love for pole dancing. Munira Mohd Yusoff, 42, dances while wearing a hijab.

The very mention of the word pole dancing sends negative images of sexy women gyrating and dancing seductively. But truth to be told, such perception no longer applies.

Pole dancing is a sport. I personally tried and regretted for days when I went home with aches and bruises all over my thighs and arms. Trust me, it is not for everyone.

Munira has been pole dancing for almost 10 years.

“I had been interested in pole dancing for some time but never really got the courage to try it, until I saw an article about it in the local newspapers in 2009,” she said.

“Bear in mind, I was a bookworm before and never exercised in my life. So of course, during the first few classes, even the simplest moves were awful and painful.”

Munira persevered and overcame her weaknesses. She said it not only made her physically stronger, but mentally too, thanks to the studio community (friends and teachers).

“Sure I get asked about why I am doing this, but I am unapologetic by nature.”

“As far as I am concerned, I have my husband’s blessing and the lessons are all done behind closed doors.

“The teachers are sensitive to keeping men out during my classes,” she said, adding that the hijab should not be a hindrance to stop anyone from doing anything, as long as they know their boundaries.

Recently, Nurul Zuriantie Shamsul, a Malaysian of Indonesian heritage, wearing a hijab, became one of five finalists in Miss Universe New Zealand 2018. Nurul, 20, is another who is breaking free from stereotypes.

Nurul was quoted as saying she took part in the pageant to break the Western standards of beauty and to redefine the meaning of beauty.

While I am not about to enter any beauty pageant, take up pole dancing (again) or perhaps, take on a male-dominated job, I can help raise my two young boys to break free from stereotypes.

Children naturally do not know about stereotypes. It is the surrounding environment which makes them aware of what constitutes a “girlie thing” and vice-versa.

I have never stopped my two young boys from playing with dolls or “masak-masak”.

For a start, I make them lay the table before meals and help clean up after to remind them that the kitchen is not only a woman’s place.

Hopefully, when they grow up, they too could redefine their own rules.

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