Four hip hijabis talk about their relationship to the headscarf and fashion

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Umme: I hate heels, but my mom loves them. They were really big in her generation, whereas in my generation, flats are more in. I’ve heard some people say Muslim women shouldn’t wear heels because of the clicking sound, that draws attention from men.

Men are supposed to have trousers above their ankles, because in old days, cloth was a lot of money, and if you let your pants drag to the ground, it was like, look at me, I have so much money. They also can’t wear gold or silk.

If I'm wearing a three-quarter length shirt, my mom will be like, you know that really does defeat the purpose of wearing a scarf.

But I wouldn't tell a stranger what to wear, because they have their personal choices. 

                 No boring black for Jamal

Who are your some of your hijab style inspirations?

Umme: My friends influence how I dress. A lot of times we’ll all sit together in a group and be like, I tie mine like this, and they’ll teach you. There isn’t really like a hijab celebrity that you have to dress like.

What about accessories? I heard that Muslim women who can’t show earrings tend to wear rings or necklaces instead.

Umme: I can’t wear rings – I don’t know what I’m gonna do when I get married…I know a lot of women who wear the hijab and can't wear earrings, so they compensate by wearing a nose piercing.  

Are there any who get lip piercings or eyebrow piercings? Actually (pause) --- are there any emo hijabs?

 Umme: (laughing) A lot of the hijabis I know are really happy people, so they’re not emo. There are a pair of sisters who come to the mosque and they both have a lip piercing. It looks really good. I know some girls when they wear hijab, they want their navel pierced.

But something like a navel piercing, where would you show it?

 Umme: It's just for themselves. Even with hair colouring. A lot of people -- I actually find it offensive when people say this -- but when we go and get our hair coloured, people would be like, oh, you got your hair coloured. Why would you do it if nobody can see it?

It's like, do I have to do it for other people? Why can't I do it for myself? We have interests that we'd like to pursue and we're not going to let our hijab limit us. I get to see it, I get to show my family and I can show my friends, and...well, who else do I really want to show it to?

Do other people ever ask you about what’s allowed and what's not with the hijab style?

Umme: Actually, I get more questions from guys than I do from girls for some reason. They're always very kind about it. Like, I hope you don't mind me asking, and I'm always very open about it. Some people may not be, but the reason why we wear it is that people do ask us. 

For example, pink hijab. If we just had a booth explaining about hijab, people wouldn’t come. But if we have one for pink hijab, we can explain, oh, we’re doing this for breast cancer, but you can ask us about hijab as well. People are more inclined to ask if there’s a friendlier topic that they can approach.

There are girls who come to school in the whole jilbab (a loose garment covering the whole body). I really do respect that because that’s not something I’m ready for yet. I’d like to in the future but it’s not something I see in the near future. I love my jeans and my hoodies, and I don’t know if I can wear a skirt. They’re really comfortable, but I’m just not ready…

If a girl dresses a lot more conservatively, is she seen to be more  religious than others?

Umme: I can't say if she's a better Muslim than I am, because only God knows that. I don't know what she does when she goes home, and she doesn't know what I do either. One of my friends -- she's such a sweetheart -- she recently started to wear the jilbab to school.

She's faithful, but she's not one of those people who won't talk to guys. Sometimes you associate people wearing jilbabs as people who never talk to guys.

That's a stereotype, then.

Umme: It is a stereotype, and a bad one.

Umme: The other day, I was at her house, and her younger sister came up to me and says, ‘You know what my sister does at school? She wears jeans underneath her skirt! Why would you do that?’

And my friend comes up to me and she’s like, ‘I miss wearing jeans….’

But it’s her decision, right? I'm actually really proud that she's not giving up the jilbab because she misses jeans. But it's her business.


Many thanks to Umme, Hina, Fatima, Naima, and to Urooba and Yusra for their help, and Eid Mubarak.

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