Editors note: Patheos blogger Izzie uses her own real-life example of her path to hijab as an exploration into hijab subculture. With light-hearted charm, she blasts today’s epidemically rising obsession with beauty and fashion among a group of hijab wearers – the irony of the whole trend being that hijab is designed to encourage modesty. Skirting around showing your hair by lusting after beauty and perfection is a defeatist move – a point Izzie brilliantly observes before jumping into a cult mindset where feminism has become an obsolete theory.
It was after my marriage that I decided to wear a hijab in public. Like most others who are evolving on their hijab journey, I had my fears – my biggest one being that it was going to make me look horrendous. After all my hair was my best feature.To help me on my hijab journey, one of my friends suggested that I look for hijab tutorials, online, so I started googling. This “easy” hijab tutorial told me that to cover my hair and to look good while doing it, I will have to take a piece of cloth, twist it turn it, then “hide the excess,” and finally give it a twirl. Then get a necklace and put it on my hijab. If I were a trained makeup artist and a part time fashion designer then maybe, MAYBE, I would be able to emulate one of them.Hijab tutorials are praised in general because they encourage new and young Muslimahs to wear the hijab. Or they dispel the misconception that hijabs make us look unattractive and thus encourage women to wear it. However, below is what happens, at least in my case.
STEP 1: You decide to follow the tutorial; after all, they say you can look chic and cover your hair! You have bought the three colored scarves, and twisted and twirled them to no end, and still look nothing like the model in the tutorial. So then you tell yourself, “It must be her makeup.”
STEP 2: Go then to the makeup tutorial (also available as part of the hijab tutorial series): How to look fresh and dewy in “simple” “everyday” steps. All you need to look dewy is buy 17 products of MAC and shimmery shine, and there you are!
So you do that too; now, you have spent about more than half of your (or your husband’s) salary to get the exact products mentioned, and you still look NOTHING like YazTheSpaz. You know why? That’s because she is really thin.
STEP 3 Jump to her weight loss video. She lost 30 pounds of weight! OMG. I am so following her routine.
After NOT being able to follow her routine or look like her, no matter how hard you have emulated all her tutorials, you feel UGLY.
Sounds familiar? Huh? How is this tutorial any different from the many Western Images of beauty that is being displayed in ads and criticized?
The above ad impels a woman to buy and use a product, believing that after two weeks, she will walk out looking like Yami Gautam – when you, me, and Yami herself know for sure that it’s not Fair and Lovely but genetics (plus makeup plus airbrushing) that makes her look the way they do. In the same way, if it is said that you twist and twirl three hijabs, and place a necklace on top, and then you would look just like Amenakin, you must be kidding yourselves.
Now of course many Muslim women don’t feel they can emulate J Lo or Beyonce. But we can emulate YaztheSpaz and Amenakin. They are the new line of halal celebrities. The fans are obsessed with their pre-post pregnancy weight, their marriage, their flawless skin.
Someone please tell me how different this is from obsessing over Angelina Jolie?
Of all of the body image issues, one of the most threatening is that of the body weight. We/Muslims are proud to repeatedly say that the hijab and a Muslim woman’s modest dressing sense should protect us from the West’s unhealthy obsession with looks. We don’t have to wear shorts, so we don’t need to have the perfect toned legs. We don’t need to “conform” to Western standards of beauty/weight loss.
Why then do we have elaborate tutorials on “How I Lost my Pregnancy Weight?” released as part of hijab tutorials? (On the other hand, the very Western Busy Philips and Amanda De Cadent have a much deeper and well-rounded opinion about our obsession with Pregnant Celebrities. And how pregnancy and childbirth, should be about growing a human being inside of you, and about actually giving birth to your offspring, and NOT about the before and after pictures, or how you look two weeks after giving birth.)