I can remember growing up hating to wear pantaloons (pants with elastic at the bottom). It just wasn’t cool. That coupled with a lot of other fashion faux pas pushed me into sewing my own clothes– it was out of necessity for me to look and feel good about myself. I liked the responses I received, so I continued to do design and make clothes eventually making it my career. I bring this up because in today’s Muslim fashion the over garment, Abaya’s and Jilbab’s have taken over as the dominant fashion trend, along with the tube khimar (hijab). Just like the pantaloons, I think we as Muslim women are being pushed into particular styles that may not make us feel good about ourselves.
Being labeled ‘not Muslim enough’
Why have these garments become so popular to so many women across so many cultures? Yes, we as Muslim women are required to cover and be modest, but not necessarily all the same way. Conformity is the first thing that comes to mind when I see everyone flocking to the same ‘look’. No one wants to rock the boat in fear of being ridiculed or being labeled ‘not Muslim enough’. There can be a lot of judgement in the Muslims community, but that doesn’t mean we should just move with the crowd without really thinking about what works for us. There is a term I frequently use now, not just to describe this situation, but for instances when people conform to a particular way of thinking because it’s easier not to create any conflict. The word is sheeple. The Wicktionary definition is:
people who unquestioningly accept as true whatever their political leaders say or who adopt popular opinion as their own without scrutiny.
Now this is not to say all women who choose to wear over garments or Abaya’s are not thinking for themselves– I am just making a general observation, as I would with any popular fashion trend. Why do Muslim women from different countries and cultures around the world, end up looking the same? Every culture is rich with history and ways of dress, so why conform to just one?
Let’s add to the story that is Muslim Fashion
As a Black American born Muslim, who grew up in NYC, I would like to see our style represented in the Muslim fashion diaspora. Working in the fashion industry, the trend reports coming out on ‘halal beauty and fashion’ all display 90% fair-skinned Arab/ Eastern looking women wearing hijab. Yes, it is the fashion industry so brown and black people aren’t represented much. But we can do better to add to the story that is Muslim Fashion. I want to show the diversity in fashion as there is in Islam.
It’s not my intention to offend. If this is not for you, feel free to delete this page, close the browser and/ or unsubscribe. But for those women who want to feel self-expressed individually and culturally, confident and still modest yet cringe at the idea of wearing an over garment–you are definitely in the right place.
Why address this now, you ask?
Being the busy professional women that we are, time is held in high regard. My goal is to add value to you and your life. I want to make my point of view clear so that you know what to expect and can get the most value from the time you spend on Zahiyya.com.
With that in mind, here is more about what’s coming in the next few weeks.
When you sign up for this email list, I ask, what is the one thing that you are struggling with? I’ve gotten all types of responses but there were three underlying themes.
- How to start a business (online, from home or a fashion business)
- How to dress modestly (non-traditional DIY Muslim Fashion)
- How to balance it all- Career, family, kids, home and marriage while dealing with situations of uncertainty, insecurity and confidence as a Professional Muslim Woman.
Over the coming weeks I will be producing a series of posts on each topic based on my 20 years of experience in the fashion industry, running my own businesses, growing up Muslim and being a wife and mother. I hope you come along for the ride.
What web series would you like me to address first? Let me know in the comments below.