Swimsuit (2021) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)

A young girl of Islamic faith has a growing interest in wearing a bikini to her swim meet and decides she isn’t going to ask her mother’s permission.


Community Rating: 80% (5 votes)

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Samah (Paloma Mafoud) looking over her shoulder

A young girl of Islamic faith has a growing interest in wearing a bikini to her swim meet and decides she isn’t going to ask her mother’s permission.


Director(s) Hasan Hadi
Screenplay By Hasan Hadi
Date Released 10/1/2021
Where Can You Watch? Film Festival (Urban World)
Genre(s) Young Adult, Family
Duration 10 Minutes
Rating Not Rated

Film Summary

Samah is a young girl, likely a tween, who wears conservative clothing, due to her and her mother’s faith and culture. However, with seeing women in magazines in bikinis and her peers at her swimming class, Samah decides she will get a bikini, wear it, and be like the other girls.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: It’s all tame here.
  • Question: Where is Samah’s dad?

Cast & Character Guide

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.

Samah (Paloma Mafoud)

Samah is a pre-teen who just wants to be like the other girls who, it’s hinted at, do talk about her when they think she can’t hear them.

Mom (Rima Hadda)

Samah’s mom is trying to raise her daughter right while acknowledging they are in New York and a minority, culturally.

Review/ Commentary


Community Rating: 80% (5 votes)


On The Fence

It Presents A Good Story, But It’s Subtle In A Way Which Makes You Wish It Said More

Certain things are just naturally understood. At a certain age, everyone starts to compare themselves to others, and most children would rather fit in than stand out. So, with Samah not going to a swim class filled with girls who dress like her, she stands out from the jump. Yet, because of her faith, she is supposed to dress modestly and not in a one-piece.

Now, most should know about how modesty plays a role in the Islamic faith and Arabian culture, but a part of me feels the short could have done more. Be it the mom being uncomfortable with a one-piece, maybe explaining how Samah felt? Not that I don’t understand what’s going on, since the short does include Samah being teased, I just felt things could have been more fleshed out. Especially considering how the short ends.

Overall

Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

Swimsuit presents an interesting story, but with it not diving into its layers, there are enough missed opportunities that it takes it down a notch. Hence the mixed label.

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Samah (Paloma Mafoud) looking over her shoulder
Swimsuit (2021) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)
Who Is This For?
Those who want a coming of age moment featuring what Muslim girls go through when raised in the western world.
Highlights
Disputable
It Presents A Good Story, But It's Subtle In A Way Which Makes You Wish It Said More
76

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One Comment

  1. As a person of Islamic background, I sadly found the short film lacking. Every story starring a Muslim girl with a hijab seems determined to get her out of it. Of course, there’s value in telling all sorts of stories stories about the complicated nature of being a Muslim kid and having to navigate what it means to have your cultural background manifest in your physical appearance. Choosing to portray a young girl separating herself from that physicality is a valid choice. But this film comes very late in a canon that has seemingly forgotten that there are are other interesting choices to be made in these situations too, other stories that real girls in our world live that are just as worthy of portrayal.

    I wish just once I might see a story that chooses to advocate for the little girls who are not uncomfortable with their hijab, but with their peers who freely alienate her for not conforming for conformity’s sake. I wish there were a story that affirmed the value of welcoming and promoting individual expression, and highlighted how unfair it is that no girl could wear a “Burkini” (what an ugly name we have given that swimsuit!) without being mocked and othered.

    At one point, the short showed magazine clippings that the protagonist had hidden in a little box away from her mother, featuring white women posing in swim suits. She was using them as reference. It struck me at the time how easily the film could have turned its eye to those magazines, and how none of them would ever feature a model wearing a “burkini” on the cover. How rare it is to see Muslim representation in the public catalogues of beauty. How this poor girl is living in a society that is forever telling her that she will never be acceptable and normal so long as she dresses the way her mother dresses, or looks how her mother looks. I desperately want to see a world where a woman can choose, in all comfort and safety, to remove her hijab or to keep it on. I wish that, by 2022, the film industry did as well.

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