tanning at rosebank mall


This piece highlights the contrasts between two cultures and their stereotypical expectations of women and their appearance. One culture expects women to be hidden, and the other expects women to be revealed as thin, white and beautiful. In melding the two, the absurdity of these extremes becomes apparent.

I walked from the parking lot to the Zone at Rosebank Mall, Johannesburg, wearing a bikini and equipped with a deckchair and beach bag containing sun cream, towel and magazine. When I got to the open, sunny space at the entrance to the Zone, I laid out my deck chair and towel and applied the suncream. I then put on a black all-covering dress, head-scarf and veil and sat on the deck chair “tanning” and reading a magazine. A crowd gathered to watch. Someone steered their remoted-controlled car to zoom around my chair. Right on cue, after about 10 minutes, the security officials of the mall approached me and asked if I had permission for what I was doing? I did not. They asked me to leave. I agreed to. I stood up, took off the Niqab with the resulting gasps and shock from the assembled audience. I folded my deck chair and left.