Glamming the Hijab

So lately my efforts have been largely focused on an academic article regarding Hijab Glam (a term I coined). You may have noticed the trend on popular Hijab fashion sites such as Hijab Style, Haute Muslimah, Breathe Hijab and The Girl with a Purple Scarf. The Hijab Glam movement (not necessarily something new to Muslim women aka Muslimahs) unites fashionable dress with the religious costume of the hijab or veil. How can a dress be modest while also studded with rhinestones and bright patterns? Does this serve to empower Musilmahs, or does it merely turn them into subjects of the male gaze? These are the questions I explore and attempt to answer. For another great example of Hijab Glam, check out Swarovski Element’s Jawaher promotional video.

I argue in my paper :

“A Muslimah dressed in designer clothing and a fashionably wrapped veil seemingly opposes traditional thought on proper Muslim dress. Given the tumultuous history of the hijab, however, and the West’s critical view of the veil as oppressive and patriarchal, it is possible that Glamming the Veil could actually serve as an advantageous tool for advancing the feminist movement, asserting the autonomous political presence of Muslimahs and as a symbolic reunification of Islam and the West.”

Over the course of the project, I had the opportunity to speak with a variety of knowledgeable Muslim women, including  proponents of the Hijab Glam movement, the bloggers themselves. With the help of their insight I explored whether a $400 designer scarf is still a form of modest veiling, and whether the role of fashion in Muslimah dress was a positive one. I conclude the following:

“The veil, as well as the general dress of the Muslim woman, symbolizes an excessively complex and layered political history. Looking back, the veil has been both removed and reclaimed by feminists, it has been lengthened and shortened and altered for political, social and aesthetic reasons. Contemporary culture has created the glamorous veil — a new style of Muslim dress that immerses itself in the same paradoxes that trace the history of the veil. Modest, yet revealing; trendy, yet traditional, Veil Glam in itself represents the complex nature of Muslim female dress. It opposes conventional Islamic principles, confronts and alters secular fashion from the female perspective, creates an opportunity for female empowerment within and outside Islam, and provides a symbolic unification of East and West. Through Glamming the Veil, the dress of the Muslimah becomes her own design, a representation of her voice and affirmation of her presence in all societal, historical and political realms. That, in itself, is liberating for women of any culture.”