For most women, the spa is a place of rest and relaxation. But to Muslim women, it represents something much more. "Traditional bath houses have always been a sacred space in which women can have to themselves without the pressures we deal with in the outside world," photographer Yumna Al-Arashi told Refinery29. "We no longer feel self-conscious, we don’t judge one another or compete, and we don’t have to deal with the male gaze."
That reason is precisely why the 28-year-old — with the help of fashion brand ASOS and its ASOS Supports Talent initiative — photographed hammams across North Africa and the Middle East. The images, all part of her "Shedding Skin" project, depict the sense of freedom that comes from a place of zero judgement or stereotype.
"This is so tremendously important for me right now because as a woman — an Arab American woman, a Muslim American woman — I cannot seem to find home anywhere," she says. "My family is now banned from the U.S., and I certainly cannot go to my war-torn home. For me, the hammam becomes a symbol of that home I am yearning for — a place in which I can just feel like myself in the most human way possible."
And what a beautiful home it is. See for yourself, ahead.