Belly Rings and Burkahs

I'm at the waterslide park, guarding my friends' wallets. It's 98 degrees. Girls in tiny bikinis with glittering diamonds in their belly buttons are basking in the sun. But it's not just young white flesh that's exposed. The bodies of middle-aged American women, respelendent with Botticelli ripples and bulges, are just as lavishly on display.

And then I see her, buying french fries for her brown-skinned kids, covered from head to toe in her burkah. She's a black beacon of modesty absorbing the full heat of the sun, the shape of her body and texture of her skin mysterious to everybody but her nearest and dearest.

Halfway between the burkah and the belly rings, there I am, wearing a light cotton sun dress over my modest, one-piece bathing suit. My Muslim sister takes in the exposed South Asian flesh on my legs and arms. Does she condemn me as a traitor to decency? Meanwhile, do the American girls glance at both of us, idly wondering how we can stand to be covered on such a hot day?