‘That is against our culture.’ This is usually the response to the debate about dressing ‘inappropriately’ during competitions. When it comes to international competitions, for example, beauty pageants, sports events and et cetera, participants may face various challenges, including dress code that goes against one’s culture, religion or even personal beliefs. Recently, in the Rubavu Open 2021, the local female volleyball team made it to the next phase of the tournament. Amidst the praise, there were questions about their choice of uniform, in comparison to the team they played against from Lithuania. The latter wore bikini-like costumes whilst the Rwandan team donned shorts and long sleeved tops. Speaking to Weekender, Samuel Nsenga, an avid sports fan, says, “Girls are usually attacked when they wear outfits that expose their bodies too much, in this case they wore shorts and tops that covered them up very well, and so they should be applauded for making us proud this time.” Many share Nsenga’s sentiments; Rwandan society usually judges those who dress inappropriately, regardless of the event, and so playing volleyball in bikinis would have been seen by some as inappropriate. Charlotte Akana, a former model, does not agree with this. “I hate it when people mix things. Volleyball in the first place is not part of our culture so I don’t understand why people should expect principles of culture in it. Participants should feel free to wear whatever fits with the competition and make us proud by winning, not by outfits,” she says. However, the team itself claimed that they chose the outfits themselves based on what was comfortable for them. “Having to wear bikinis would have been personally less favorable,” said Charlotte Nzayisenga, the captain of the female volley team, in an interview. Beauty pageants also attract considerable attention on this matter. When Honorine Hirwa Uwase, Miss Popularity 2017, participated in the Miss Earth pageant, she wore a dress instead of a swimsuit during the pre-pageant swimsuit competition. Luckily, she wasn’t disqualified. But in some other competitions, not following the dress code could result in disqualification. In an interview with local media, Uwase said that she couldn’t wear a bikini while representing Rwanda, because ‘culture doesn’t allow publicly wearing it.’ Former Miss Rwanda, Colombe Akiwacu, got a lot of heat for her bikini photos in the Miss Supranational contest in Poland in 2016. But, what people may not understand is that when you participate in the competition, you have agreed to go by the set rules and regulations, and dress code is no exception. The question many have asked is, why doesn’t Rwanda just exclude itself from these competitions? If bikinis are okay for swimming, why do they become inappropriate in the swimsuit level at international competitions? Claudine Twizere, a high school teacher, shares a similar view. “I think it’s not fair to be blamed for dressing a certain way, especially if the criteria of the competition demands so. Or, the Rwandan community should give up on participating in these things.” Jean Paul Kazinda, a volleyball fan, says, “It was ridiculous to see Rwandan players, in a game that took place on sand, in hot weather, dressed like that. Every game or competition has outfits for a reason, and Rwandan participants should respect that just like other players do.” A number of people in Rwandan society associate outfits with decency and discipline. Debate presents this as a result of cultural background, religious beliefs, and/or societal norms and many other factors. It’s hard to predict if this particular debate will come to a conclusion.