Monday, January 15, 2007

Does the 'fashionable' hijab scream: "Look at us" or "Please, leave us alone?"

From: Comment is Free

Recently, I was strolling through Selfridge's in London when I saw something strange. At a make-up counter in the women's department, four young Muslim women dressed in the hijab, the veil that covers the head and hair but leaves the face on view, were trying on various shocking shades of lipstick and blusher, gaily chatting and giggling as they did so. "This shade makes my lips look fuller," said one, pouting in front of a mirror. Her friends agreed. "It's a must-buy," they chirped.

The hijab is meant to symbolise modesty and chastity. Yet here were four young veiled women, in their late teens or early twenties, painting their lips and reddening their cheeks, prettifying their faces for everyone to see. Even more strikingly, one of them had the word Fendi emblazoned in silver lettering across her black hijab - Fendi being the Italian fashion house best-known for its shoes, bags and furs, and which is beloved of those Sex and the City women. This was Muslim garb as high fashion. The girls' aim seemed to be to invite men's gaze, rather than repel it; they were screaming, "Look at us!", not "Please, leave us alone."

...Others discuss the veil in terms of fashion, saying how comfortable it makes them feel or how it compliments their body shape. And while they cover their hair and body, like the young women in Selfridge's, they often wear make-up, and even Calvin Klein sunglasses, on their faces. Forget the claims that these veiled women are covering up in order that people, especially men, don't stare at them; in fact, many of them are trying to look trendy and distinctive rather than bland and ignorable.

This article is written by a non-Muslim man, but often Muslims make the same point about whether the 'fashionable hijaab' isn't a contradiction in terms.

Umm Yasmin has an insightful post on how the 'One Veil Fits All' concept isn't necessarily true.

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