FASHION/RELIGION - Have you seen any women recently wearing a Niqab or Hijab?
No, I am not talking about Conservative Muslim women. I am talking about women (of any ethnic background) wearing it as some kind of fashion statement.
And an important point is you can now buy them in brand names like Calvin Klein and GAP.
Like WTF? How did that happen? Well, its not so much that these brand name companies are getting into the business, its the fact they're making scarves/etc that can be used as such.
First lets affiliate you with some of the fashion terms:
A Hijab is basically a hood that is worn over your hair.
A Niqab (or Niqaab) is a scarf you wear over your face. A full niqab covers everything but a slit for the eyes.
Abaya - Covers you from head to toe except for the eyes, one large piece that looks very baggy. Usually found in Pakistan.
Burqa - Like the Abaya, but it covers the eyes with semi-transparent fabric or a grille. More common in Afghanistan.
Dupatta - Popular in Pakistan, covers the head and shoulders.
Its important to note this is NOT a religious belief per se... and nor is it sexist. Many men in Arab countries also wear headwear to cover their heads. Such things include the Igal, Bisht, Ihram, Kufi / Kuffiyya / Ghutra / Shmagh, Taqiyah cap, Thawb and the more commonly known Turban.
So yes, before you go jumping to conclusions you have to realize this is a CULTURAL tradition, not a religious edict. Some Muslim women choose to wear such things and often make that choice when they are a teenager (ah, the horrors of peer pressure). In that context they see their friends wearing such things and they follow suit.
After all if you're best friend gets a tattoo, or a nose piercing or a pair of high heels... are you repressing yourself if you choose to get the same thing for yourself? No, you're making a choice. Admittedly your friend played a role in making that choice, but thats just a sign of a strong friendship.
Thus when non-Muslim women start wearing such clothing its not simply because they're trying to make a fashion statement. Sometimes they just have Muslim friends who wear such things, they look at it, realize they'd like to wear a hood or whatever, so they go out and buy it.
I myself have a fondness for hoodies, especially on rainy days. I could see myself buying a hijab someday if I found one I really liked. Does it mean I would be changing my religion? No.
Its just a fashion statement and frankly I think thats kewl. It could even be considered sexy.
Granted I am not about to run out and buy any full-length garments that cover me head to toe... they just look too much like radiation suits to me. But I could certainly see wearing a wide variety of Muslim clothing.
Let me give you an example you might not normally think of: Look at the adorable photo below of the little girl wearing a Kufi hat. Those hats are totally kewl and I WANT ONE! It has nothing to do with religion, its just plain a really kewl looking hat. Who wouldn't want one?