The new Mr Kerala is a hijabi bodybuilder

Health & Fitness
India_Majiziya BhanuPhoto courtesy of Majiziya Bhanu.

Before Majiziya Bhanu could enter her first bodybuilding competition in Kerala, India, she had a dilemma to wrestle with. She was keen on entering, but she was worried about having to expose her body. She also felt that her community in Kozhikode wouldn’t support her if she participated without wearing a hijab.

“I was apprehensive about taking part, as it involved much [showing of skin]. But then I came across some videos of Egyptian women bodybuilders and decided to adopt the costumes they used,” Majiziya was quoted as saying in The Hindu.

Today, the 23-year-old hijabi bodybuilder is the unlikely winner of the Mr Kerala contest after participating in it for the first time. But this is just the latest of her achievements: as a professional powerlifter, she was declared the “Strongwoman of Kerala” thrice by the Kerala Powerlifting Association and won second place in the Asian Powerlifting Championship in 2017, where she lifted 370 kg.

India_Majiziya Bhanu

Photo courtesy of Majiziya Bhanu.

The final-year dentistry student from Kozhikode has been training in sports only for a year. She joined boxing classes during her third year in college and began training to powerlift after her boxing coach said that it was a better fit for her.

Majiziya credits her family and fiancé for her strength and support. She was particular about wearing a hijab. “The clothes were never a problem, as the judges were experienced enough to assess a clothed person’s build,” she said.

Majiziya is pragmatic about the expectations that her community places on women like her. “Now, they don’t have anything to oppose,” she was quoted as saying on The News Minute. “We Muslim women have to fear society, in a way. It is because I am wearing a hijab that nobody seems to have a problem. Otherwise, I am sure I would lose at least 75 per cent of the support I now receive.”

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