When Faith Meets Fashion

By Patricia Soberano and Michelle Karim

As the girl in the blue Hollister hoodie entered the Muslim Student Association prayer room, she took off her shoes and picked a black scarf from the closet. Covering her hair, she kneeled down to pray. A second girl walked in wearing a utility jacket, black slacks and already had her hair covered in a shiny headscarf that brightened the dull colors of her outfit.

For the first time in history, a Muslim woman in a traditional Muslim scarf was portrayed in the mainstream media in an H&M advertisement as part of its fall fashion campaign this year.
However, some feel that the change in ideologies and perspectives, is far off.

“I think it’s gonna be a while because people are not always open to change and America is on so many different standpoints,” Jennifer Islam, 20, a senior Women’s Studies and Sociology major at Stony Brook University, said. Islam feels that representing Muslim women in the media is a stepping stone towards broadening the society.

“I think that there will be change but it will be slow,” Islam said.

“I usually shop for hijabs at H&M, Forever21 and Charlotte Russe,” Siddiqua said. For Siddiqua, a sophomore Health Science and Business major, the hijab is the first element that she picks out for her outfit everyday. She also noted that one can never go wrong with an all black hijab.

“I decided hijab was for me in the middle of high school,” said Siddiqua “Not only is it mandatory in my religion, I like the fact that it gives me an identity.”

Verdah Ahmad is a sophomore Sociology major and says that the hijab has grown on her.
“It’s an expression of my faith and obviously it’s a very outward expression because it’s the first thing people see and notice about me when they meet me,” Ahmad said.
“So I think it’s great for people to understand that the first thing that they know about me is that I’m a Muslim because that is the most important part of my identity. It’s a huge part of who I am not just the hijab but also my faith.”

“I believe that with the world being connected ever more [globally] that women around the world, will come to see the Hijab as something that can surely be seen as part of fashion and that the women who wear it can be seen as empowered, perhaps, as a result,” Catherine Marrone, a Sociology Lecturer at Stony Brook University, said.
Marrone believes that showing women wearing hijab in many fashionable ways could be used to positive effect.

“I think —and hope–that showing women wearing the hijab in fashionable ways –makes a statement–that the look is not necessarily one of oppression and instead, for many, may even one of expression,” Marrone said.