Planning a vacation to a foreign country is always exciting. Researching all the touristic places you are going to see and reading up on the history is a good way to go, but I think people need to take it a little step further. When coming to the Middle East, I think female visitors and tourists need to find out more about the cultural ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ before they hop on a plane to the land of the sun.
Forgive me for being blunt and not sugar-coating this but some times things need to be said out right instead of beating around the bush.
You are probably wondering what the trigger was for me to choose this as a topic to write about. Well, I went on a school trip to the Cairo museum with the Grade Two’s last Tuesday and I don’t want to even try describing some of the visions I saw!! What makes me laugh is that some times the tourists and visitors get offended by the stares and comments that they get and they can’t understand why! So, I’m going to spell it out for them as nicely as I can without being too harsh!
So, here it goes.., If you are hanging out of your clothes and are leaving very little covered or to the imagination don’t be surprised if people’s attention is directed more towards you than ancient artifacts! Just DON’T act surprise, disgusted or flustered when people can’t stop staring! You might be making it really difficult for them to focus their eye sight else where!
I am a big fan of spaghetti strap tops, shorts that are just above the knee and flip-flops. If I could wear them all day long, trust me I would do so in a heartbeat. The reason I don’t is because I respect the culture of the country that I am living in. Egypt is quite a conservative country. It’s more liberal than some of the neighboring Gulf countries but it is still fairly conservative. Walking around in hot shorts, and wearing a tight chest bearing halter top or just baring a lot of skin will most often attract a lot of unwanted attention and some very derogative comments.
I know that back in Europe and in the West it’s normal summer attire and it’s a great way to soak up the sun’s rays to get an amazing tan and it’s relaxing as well as comfortable. When I go back to Montreal for my summer vacations ‘I do as the Romans do’, (or so the saying goes). The reason being because I know no one is going to give me any hassle for what I’m wearing because there are hundreds of other women wearing the exact same thing and even less! If I dressed like that here in Cairo, I would be sticking out like a sore thumb and feeling very conscientious, like when you have one of those dreams where you are naked in the middle of a street or the work place and everyone is staring at you.
I know that the temperature here in Cairo can get really hot and you want to stay cool, trust me the less clothing you wear the hotter you are going to feel. You won’t catch the Bedouins, (desert dwellers) stripping down to the bare minimum when they are out in the sun. The best thing to wear would be a light-colored, loose-fitting shirt or t-shirt, with short or long sleeves. That way the breeze can circulate through your garments freely. You could wear a long skirt, trios quart pants (pedal pushers) as well as linen trousers, (preferably not see through, they are called under garments for a reason).
Another reason you don’t want to expose too much of yourself is because Hollywood although very entertaining hasn’t done Western or European women any favors here in the region. The movies most of the time portray women to be ‘loose’ and very ‘easy’ to lure in to bed. (Cast your minds back to ‘Brook’ from the day time soap “The Bold and The Beautiful” and Eva Longoria’s character in ‘Desperate House Wives”). The men here don’t often see a lot of skin, so when they DO see it, some of them may not be able to contain themselves and they will then act upon their desires and give ‘Egyptian Men’ a bad wrap. Isn’t enough that we as Middle Easterners are trying to fight the stigma of being labeled ‘terrorists’ do we really need to fight off the reputation of being perverts too?
I’m not saying don’t bring them. Do, but there are places where you can wear them. Clothes like that are considered more beach or pool wear. So, if you are heading down to lounge by the pool at the hotel you are staying at or hitting the beach in Sharm El Sheikh by all means throw on your hot shorts and tank top and head down to the water. Just re think your wardrobe for when you’re in the cities and visiting the touristic sites, especially the mosques and other religious sites.
When you dress like that in the city it would be like me walking in to church with a really short skirt and an off the shoulder top that revealed a bit too much of my cleavage. It’s disrespectful and inappropriate. So take my advice and think twice.