The Bellevue Beach Club has emerged as a prominent women’s-only beach on the Mediterranean Coast. For $18 women can enjoy a day spent in the sun without worrying about what they are wearing or who is looking. With Lebanon having several recognized religious sects, a beach that caters to women with various backgrounds and interests is highly welcomed.
At this section of the beach, women are allowed to wear whatever style of swimwear they choose, whether it be the popular bikini style or a one piece. Women are also welcome to remain in their everyday clothing if they do not feel comfortable showing their skin. Additionally, many women who typically wear religious attire feel comfortable enough to remove their hijabs or veils.
One woman by the name of Nada described the difference between how she presents herself to the world compared to how she looks while she is at the Bellevue Beach Club. “When you see me on Facebook, I look completely different. You wouldn’t recognize me,” she stated.
The only man employed by the beach club is the ticket collector. At the gates, he greets those who enter, but beyond only women can be found. The bathrooms and pool are staffed by women employees, and a woman DJ plays music for everyone at the beach to enjoy.
Privacy along the shores goes beyond strictly allowing women to enter. The Bellevue Beach Club has banned cameras so that photographers are unable to capture the beach for tourism purposes. The women in attendance are then able to feel entirely protected.
While women are welcome to wear what they please on mixed-gender beaches, many Muslim women do not feel comfortable wearing bathing suits in front of men who are not their husbands. According to the Muslim faith, it is haram, or forbidden, for a woman to expose her body to a man other than her husband. Still, many women of all backgrounds do not want to expose their bodies in front of masses of people.
While there is no question that this section of the beach serves particularly well for religious women, many women who attend stress that modesty is subjective, and what a woman wears is completely up to her.
“Religion is broad. It’s a personal choice,” said Rana Ghalayini, a nurse. She did not choose to wear a veil until she had married and decided to have her daughters wear veils once they are in their twenties.
While women are not exposed to laws that force them to dress a certain way on mixed-gender beaches, a sense of discomfort at the hands of swimwear overcomes many. Whether these women are religious or come from families with conservative backgrounds, a safe space for them to wear whatever they please is groundbreaking.
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