watch the empowering video highlighting 100 years of hijab fashion
Amani Alkhat of the Muslim Girl website explains why her latest video about hijab fashion is absolutely vital to the international conversation.
We've all seen the 100 Years of Beauty videos from The Cut. My girls and I knew that a video showcasing 100 years of hijab fashion would be an obvious next concept. But the thing is, we didn't want to do another corny "Omg the hijab is so IN!" type of project. We really wanted to contextualise the headscarf as we know it today and reinsert the nuance of its history that is so quickly lost in Instagram hashtags and blog headlines. Ultimately, we wanted to take "hijab fashion" back.
Brands and consumers alike are getting really caught up in the lucrative hype that we now call "modest fashion." It's funny because these same brands that are quick to cash in around Ramadan time (starting early June this year) remain virtually silent in the midst of intense anti-Muslim backlash, like the storm we just experienced with Trump's comments on a Muslim ban. The same headscarves that we are targeted for on the street are now being capitalised on by corporations that pose absolutely no benefit to actual Muslim women's empowerment.
When we were deciding which countries to include in the video, we started with the region that is the largest recipient of the West's failed foreign policy in modern history — the Middle East — and went from there. We included Asian countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, which have been on the receiving end of devastating American military campaigns. Ultimately, we wanted to include countries that have most greatly shaped Americans' understanding of the Muslim world and our perceptions of the Muslim people as a result. We aren't just headlines and statistics.
We intentionally included time periods when the hijab became imposed on Muslim women to confront that tension head-on. Muslim governments enforcing the wear, or even removal of, the hijab is an important part of its history and Muslim women's ongoing reclamation of it. We know very well that this tension also exists in Western countries that are outlawing the garment: any control of a woman's dress — whether how much she puts on or how much she takes off — is still one and the same.
The concept of hijab goes far deeper than physicality and far beyond a fashion trend. Our society's limited lens of the hijab and Muslim culture neglects the hijab's compelling legacy; its rich history of defiance; and its potent use as expression of our many diverse, glorious, and intricately beautiful walks of life.
Text Amani Alkhat
Video and stills courtesy Muslim Girl