By Wafa Judas
This year I attended the International Muslim Fashion and Design Festival. It was a day filled with a few nice dresses, dozens of salams and smiles (some genuine, others not), a couple hundred selfies, 98 permanent pouting faces and some fierce hijabista stare-downs. I met a couple of really cool down to earth sisters, attended an "ethical fashion workshop" and the rest…well, the rest I’m working on articulating since what I found was both beautiful and unsettling. Was it the crazy groupie culture? "Oh my God Dina Tokio is behind us!
,let’s take a selfie and tag Dina Tokio’s leg in the back!" True story. Or perhaps it was the selfies with the celebrities? Or maybe the obsession with being a hijabista or vlogger, or at the very least being seen talking to one, or for the privileged - even taking a picture with one? Can dope turban styles and flowy silky scarves be a source of redemption or distraction?
Don’t call me a hater yet, or do actually. If you do, you're missing the point. Either way, I’ll be fine. I love fashion, style and self-expression but I find myself both fascinated and disturbed by the hijabista bloggista sista phenomenon; highly focused on fashion, style, trends, consumerism and obsessed with being in the ‘IN’ crowd.
The Hijabista/Bloggista phenomenon is a very delicate topic to discuss. I’ve read and participated in many discussions on this topic and I’ve seen it get both messy and disheartening. There’s the Haram Police on one end and the ‘Only God can judge me’ police on the other end. The first one is hasty in making judgments and dropping fatwas while the other refuses any kind of constructive criticism and deems any disagreement to be jealousy or self-righteousness. Both however, have one thing in common - their passion prevents them from engaging in a fruitful dialogue. Then, there are folks that are in between - not quite haters, simply critics who feel uneasy about this phenomenon.
When I started wearing the Hijab back in high school, youtube tutorials didn’t exist. I went through a soul searching phase and connected with many sisters who donned the veil (mainly converts). After many beautiful discussions, I came to understand and love the Hijab; but I digress.
I now know why I feel unsettled with this movement. I will not use religion as a disguise for my criticism; I will not slap anyone with a Hadith or two - that’s not my job. I will not shame any blogger/vlogger and urge them to repent; I will simply allow my mind and heart to speak freely and candidly.
My first criticism of this movement is its obsession with fashion and consumerism; I’m neither an Imam nor a Mufti but I feel that part of wearing the Hijab is a way of opposing the excessive consumerist culture we live in. I find it problematic when I see Hijabistas (who are by the way, commonly endorsed and paid by various Hijab companies to exclusively promote their Hijabs and fashion) urge Muslim women to purchase the latest hijabs, lipsticks, accessories, blazers and encourage their fans to follow and keep up the latest trends. I love fashion and I too believe it’s important to develop your own sense of style; however when excessive consumerist tendencies are disguised as "It’s just Islamic fashion and we’re only trying to do our best and help Hijabis be more modest" then we owe it to ourselves to have a real conversation.
There, I said it; I dislike the movement for its obsession with trends, fashion and halalified super star glamorous looks. I sent emails to various fashionistas asking them numerous questions and hoped to share their perspective and opinions in order to have a balanced discussion; and I received one response that said ‘I cannot answer many of your questions as I do not necessarily identify with "hijabista movement" or "hijabi fashionistas," and therefore cannot speak on their behalf.’ There was more to the email; but she did not address any of the questions I had asked.
Saying that one does not identify as a fashionista when every single one of their Instagram posts hashtagged as #Hijabi #HijabiFashion #ModestFashion is a little confusing and disingenuous.
I’m not here to shame Hijabis and Hijabistas (I’ll be the first to point out my inability to always comply and wear it properly). However, my question to all Hijabistas, their followers and critics is what happens when self-proclaimed Hijabi models don't pull through with the modesty part? Can they be called out or even better, can we spark and engage in a fruitful discussion that would provide clarity on the matter? I leave you with a short improvised fragmented poem of my thoughts on the issue. The second part of this article, will hopefully include opinions of scholars, Fashionistas (if they holler back) and regular folks like you and I.
Silky hijabs with polka dots Sexy kaftans and instagrams.. How much for a gram?
I can’t get enough Dots dots dots… I enjoy being liked but prefer being loved but that’s just me. Turban styles and humps This is not a salafist poem I, too, rock the bun
Everyone is tempted to show their buns (at least once)
I find nuns do it better than I/you/her/she/them/they do
Dots dots dots
How do I wear a square scarf? I digress… Nuns do it better than I & her do
This is not a salafist poem You will not be slapped with a Hadith or verse
You will not be shamed nor made to feel guilty
Any chance I can make it into the Miss Muslimah 2014 competition? I digress…
Husband tag Makeup routine Summer hijab Winter hijab Beach hijab Eid hijab Tarawih hijab Big booty hijab Crinckled jersey scarves… wtf?!
I know you're new to the Hijab game but baby, trust me, you 'll figure it all out... Dots dots dots Connect the dots
And your final destination will be a space to reflect and re-think/reclaim
Can dope turban styles and flowy silky scarves be a source of redemption or distraction? Has the Hijab become an old husband we’re just accustomed to? I’m just accustomed to?
Please say it ain't so.