Friday, February 1, 2013

Experiments in Intercultural Fashion

Cold this morning. I got to school, stripped off my excessive layers of cold-busting outerwear, opened my laptop and went digging through the news for a story to use in class today. And what did I find?

Today is World Hijab Day!

A group of Muslim women organized this event to give non-Muslims, and Muslims who don't generally wear a hijab, a chance to give it a try. Though in the US we hear a lot about women in predominately Muslim countries being punished for not covering themselves enough, the news overlooks the Muslim women all over the world who wear head scarves or other coverings for the same reasons I wear sleeves: reverence for the body and for God. The Muslim women I have known have all made their own independent and educated decisions about whether or not to wear a head covering: some did, and were confident and happy doing so; others didn't, and were confident and happy abstaining.

I've wanted to try a hijab for ages. I think they're gorgeous. They frame the face so elegantly, and there's such a fantastic diversity of fabrics and colors and accessories to choose from. I love the boldness they imply: This is my faith. I'm proud of it. And, counterintuitive though it seems, I like the feminist implications thereof. A hijab says Here is my face. Look at it. Talk to me. Rather like last week's post, when you think about it: this woman is here to live her life, not to be pretty for you.

So when I realized that it was World Hijab Day, and I could try wearing a hijab without being disrespectful to another religion, I was FURIOUS. Why? Because I found out AFTER I left my house for the day.

So I improvised.

I have made my World Hijab Day hijab out of a green knit beret, a green textured scarf from Korea, and a humorous writing-teacher pin. It's a little warm, and of course if I'd found out about this in time I could be wearing my featherlight blue silk scarf from India with the bead fringe (rrgh). But for not knowing this was happening, I think I've managed to participate quite well.

I admit that I felt a little silly walking around campus with my scarf wrapped around my head. But that's what social experiments are all about! And how many of the women in my parents' neighborhood (which has a large population of immigrant families from Muslim countries) feel the same sort of awkwardness walking around Salt Lake in their beautiful hijabs? Beyond that, are there some that even feel afraid of becoming the targets of anti-Muslim hostility or violence?

So here's to you, ladies. Here's to your respect for your cultures, your religion, your bodies and yourselves. Thank you for setting an example of reverence and dedication to this Christian girl, encouraging her to be a more faithful follower of that God who is the Father of us all. And also: your scarves are absolutely gorgeous. Where do you get them?


  1. RoseE! I found this link to your blog on Al Jazeera! You're featured there for supporting hijab day :) I recognized you by the checkers set in the carrels in the background. You're famous! I wish I'd known about this day earlier; I would have worn a hijab with you in solidarity :) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh my gosh! I'm famous! Thanks for telling me . . . I feel all warm and fuzzy and famous inside. :) And whose checkers set is that, anyway?