Hijab Is Not Just This Cloth

“I grew up in America and I wear jeans, and I want to make sure that’s something that works, that’s still modest.”

Want to learn about the first day the speaker decided to wear the hijab?  Check out “I Was Afraid I Was Gonna Chicken Out.”

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Transcript for Hijab Is Not Just This Cloth

The term, “hijabi,” I think, originated from within the Muslim Hijabi community. And I think it’s obviously combined with, like, the English “E” thing; that’s not Arabic, and the term, hijab, is Arabic. And I think it’s just like an easy slang term. I don’t think people outside the Hijabi or Muslim community are very familiar with it, that they would use it in a way that would be offensive at all. I think I would actually be impressed if somebody was like, “Oh, so you’re a hijabi?” I’d be like, “Oh yeah, you know the terminology, our created terminology.”

There’s actually a really distinct Muslim American culture. And it’s very interesting. Because I think there’s a lot of people who come from either the Middle East or like Southeast Asia, these like predominantly Muslim areas, who are first generation Americans like myself. And we grew up in—and I think our parents had raised us in a way that we identify most importantly with our Muslim religion more than with our culture. And so it’s very interesting, you know, how like there’s, memes, and you know, “stuff Hispanics say,” like those videos that they had, all those cultural things that arise, like we have all these Muslim ones, too. So I think that’s where Hijabi comes from.

I wear the Hijab for multiple reasons. I think the most common one that people think is like, “Oh, her dad forced her,” or like “to protect her from like the lustful gazes of man,” like, all this dark stuff. And like, if I had to answer, there are several reason like I said, but the biggest one is that I’m a Muslim woman, and I believe that it’s a commandment of God to dress modestly. And hijab really, it actually even extends to your character, it’s not just an external thing. When we look in the mirror, Muslims, we say a prayer. It says “May God beautify my inner character just as he has beautified my outer, physical appearance.” And so the fact of the matter is that God has created us, and we believe God has created us perfectly. And my concern is to focus on the inside, to make my inside beautiful.

There’s definitely like a rising, Muslim Fashionista movement. Actually Muslim fashion week is coming up, I think it’s in March, I really want to go, but it’s after our spring break. And so I love it. Because it’s–there’s a thing, like the culture–my mom, she wears the long dress, the jilbab, and that’s part of her culture where she came from Egypt. But I grew up in America and like, I wear jeans, you know, and like I want to make sure that works, that’s still modest. So I’ll wear something long with it, you know.

Modesty and fashion totally can co-exist. They totally can. I think that’s why these fashion designers are really, really unique, and what they’re doing. They come up with these styles, and while they’re still similar to like, some fashion trends we might see, like on a traditional American runway, they also are wide. So like one thing that’s really sweeping the Muslim fashion world right now is the idea of long sleeve maxi dresses, which is like, and it’s perfect. Because maxi dresses are great, usually they’re not long sleeved though. So, like, we’ll have to layer. That’s a big thing hijabi’s have to do; we have to layer things all the time. So like hoodies are great, but if you don’t want to wear them with like sweat pants, like, let’s say, I want to wear them with, like, regular jeans; I’d probably want them to be a little longer. So like I’ve seen these different companies, rising companies, that they make long sweatshirts. Or like, they make hijabi work out gear and stuff. And, you know, it’s really awesome, because it’s something that–I can’t work out in jilbab, and I don’t want to wear a jilbab, I mean, it’s perfectly modest, but it’s not my style. And I love that I can have that style, that I can be creative with my style, while also observing those lines of modesty.

And there definitely have been like, tensions between the two. It’s hard to like, you know–like skinny jeans are really in, but sometimes they’re not always that modest, you know? Or by some people’s standards.

I mean, that’s the thing though. Each person is free to make their own choice, you know. So like I dress in a way that I find the most modest, and, like, we’re all trying to do our best. It’s not, like, it’s like, “oh she’s not modest;” or like, “she’s not up to par.” That’s not like that—it shouldn’t be like that. I think it’s a matter of like, if you’re wearing something that’s really tight that really accentuates, like, your curves, for example, that’s pretty hot, you know. That’s the kind of thing you want to be wary of. So it’s not just a matter of, like, just attracting attention in general, because, like, I’m a member of society. I’m going to be here, I’m not going to hide myself from people at all. You know? Like I’ll be in the forefront, like I have no problem with that at all. It’s just a matter of–I want to be in the forefront because of something that I’ve done, or something that I’ve come up with, not because of how I look. And like we obsess over these things and it can really be unhealthy, like we do care so much about our appearance. And it can consume us. Like you can start to care so much about how you look that you’re not there. You’re not living in the moment, you know? And so I think when we wear the hijab, that’s what we’re trying to prevent. That’s why I’m saying hijab is not just this cloth. It’s a lot more. It’s a lot more on the outside and on the inside as well. It’s like a whole thought process, honestly.