Four hip hijabis talk about their relationship to the headscarf and fashion
Qaiser demonstrates an expertly wrapped scarf
How many scarves do you have?
Hina: Over a hundred. Three boxes full.
Naima: A lot, but I don’t wear a lot of them.
Hina: Actually, what I do is, if I haven’t worn a scarf for awhile, I’ll exchange it with another hijabi. Sometimes I’ll be walking down the street and I’d see a random hijabi and I’ll be like hey! she’s wearing my scarf.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Fatima: There’s a lot of blogs on hijabi style. There aren’t too many magazines, but there are a lot of videos on YouTube showing you how to do different styles. For example in Egypt they have very, very intricate hijab because they wear it for a longer time. For example, if they go out to a party, they have it wrapped in a bun, like a flower. It’s very intricate, and there are salons that help you decorate your scarf with flowers.
There was a recent Pink Hijab Day...
Hina: You don't hear about lot of things like this in the Muslim community, so it was kind of a way for us to get involved and spread awareness.
Apparently, there was recently a poll about Pink Hijab Day, and a lot of people responded that pink headscarves were “immodest.” Are there certain colours that women are discouraged from wearing because it draws attention?
Hina: As long as it's not like...a highlighter pink. In Islam, you can definitely wear different colours, just as long as you’re not standing out too much.
Fatima: It really depends on the cultural context: if I was to wear, say, hot pink in Saudi Arabia, I’m going to stand out, and I have to be ready for people to ask me questions. But if I wear hot pink here, I’m honestly not going to stand out because everyone’s just wearing all kinds of colours, they have their own style. For example, in this society, wearing all black will make you stand out. We use colors, patterns, different textures to be a part of the cultural context.
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With the rules about covering (everything except face and hands), is it sometimes difficult to put together a trendy outfit?
Naima: Actually, the recent styles have been good to us. It’s okay to dress modestly. Because there’s way more long tops now, and there are more of those summer dresses --- the maxi dresses!
Hina: I bought five of those maxi dresses this year.
Naima: It’s really good because some Muslim younger girls have trouble finding the balance – I mean, they want to be modest, but they’re not sure how to do that while still fitting in with their group of friends.
Was that ever a concern, what people would think if you started wearing it? What kind of reaction have you gotten in Canada?
Fatima: I’ve never received any negative comments – people compliment me and say oh, I like your scarf.
Naima: Yeah, you read about all those things happening and I was kind of prepared for some negative comments toward me, but thank God, so far, there have been none.
Hina: All I’ve ever received are compliments, about how it looks really good on you, and how it really suits your face.
When I started wearing it, my parents were really worried that I’d have a hard time finding a job in Canada, but I’ve had no trouble so far. I guess people care more about your intelligence and personality, and not just about a scarf.
Fashion is just a fun way to express personality. You’re supposed to work on studying, and learning about Islam and being a good person first. Because we’re hiding our outer beauty, it gives a chance for our inner beauty to shine.
After interviewing Hina and her friends, I received an email from Umme, a Richmond-based hijabi who was born in London, England. Since there were a few more questions to ask, we met near Aberdeen mall to chat. She also declined photos, but brought an assortment of scarves and pins typical of her wardrobe.
How would you describe your fashion style?
Umme: I wear whatever’s comfortable – jeans and a hoodie, the majority of the time.
Are there any fashion don’ts in Muslim fashion, like skinny jeans or heels?