Somewhere in America, Hijabis are Hipster, and That’s Okay
After watching the Somewhere In America video, which consists of Muslim hijabi women, that call themselves “Muslim hipsters” or “#Mipsterz”, dressed in stylish clothing, goofing around with friends, taking selfies, skateboarding in heels, and just having fun, I watched it again, and again, and again.
The video is very well-done; it’s a light, cute video of girls being girls. The colors are beautiful. The clothes are gorgeous. And the hijabi women look beautiful, for reasons other than their clothes. They look beautiful because they’re young, they’re adventurous, they’re grinning, they’re happy.
Just a bunch of really cool-looking hijabi women being girls, being happy, being goofy, expressing themselves, in a really well-done video.
All of a sudden I’m seeing post after post on Facebook and Twitter bashing the video, bashing the girls, dissecting imaginary ideas; people calling them “non-hijabis”, people calling them “disgusting”, people accusing them of “objectifying" Muslim women and promoting fitnah.
Firstly, the amount of MEN criticizing this video is ridiculous (just go read all the tweets for the hashtag #mipsterz). Dear men, until you have experienced how it feels to wear hijab in America, with all due respect, shut your mouth. Being a hijabi in America is a flashing neon sign that screams ISLAM, and we, as hijabis, constantly feel the pressure from our societies and Muslim communities to be perfect in order to represent a whopping 1.6 billion people. I constantly feel the judgemental eyes as I stand in line at the local grocery store, all too aware of the cloth on my head and what it represents. That said, I, being a hijabi, refuse to add to that pressure. As a human being, making mistakes helps us grow and discover ourselves and the world in which we live. Expressing myself through my style, thoughts, and hobbies, helps me grow, as an individual and as a Muslim woman.
Islam does not oppress women, so stop oppressing us by making unrealistic and outrageous expectations that we must all be the same, and must all follow your guidelines and expectations. Stop telling women that their hijab is “wrong” because they choose to wear it in a different way than the girls overseas do. There is a fine line between naseehah (advice) and blatant bashing. And most importantly, stop judging and shaming our women.
I will not be a walking figure for men in the community to judge and criticize as they please. I will not be a walking list of Men’s Expectations.
Secondly, I love (read: hate) how our community digs to find flaws in our women. That is offensive to me. Thank you, for ignoring all the ladies in the video wearing maxi skirts and dresses, layers, and loose clothing. Thank you for ignoring the beautiful smiles these women have. As Urooj said in her response,
"Most of [the women] are ignoring the camera altogether and are wrapped up in their own acrobatics- dancing, jumping, and goofing off with their friends. But because there is some gorgeous lighting and they look pretty in it, they’re being objectified? If that’s the case, is it possible for a hijabi to look good without it being a performance for the male gaze?"
Thank you also for taking that one line about Miley Cyrus twerking, and turning it into a “sexualizing and objectifying video.” Breathe for a second, and go Rap Genius the song first.
“This song is about racism still being alive in America, but #somewhereinamerica there are people of all races embracing African American culture, (wanting to be more tan, Miley Cyrus twerking, etc…) You can’t teach racism when your child is connected to the culture.”
Didn’t know that, did you? Exactly.
Thank you for making something so light and positive, so frustrating. Please continue to tell Muslim women how superficial and shameless they are. Because there really isn’t enough of that happening already.
Women find agency and empowerment in many different forms and #mipsterz proves exactly that. Wearing hijab does not mean you are required to lose your individuality and personality. Whether you are a fashionista or an athlete, no one has the right to stifle your freedom to express yourself. Wearing hijab confidently, proudly, modestly, and if you wish, fashionably, with your own (but halal) twist, creates a beautiful, confident, respected, strong, unique woman.
We are human. We are diverse. And we cannot be forced into boxes that are impossible to fit in.
I wish we (Muslims) would focus more on poverty, war, and correcting misconceptions, and less on over-analyzing something that is plain and simple, a cute/fun video of girls being girls, and that suddenly ONE line from a song becomes the whole focus and purpose of a video. Reality is, there are Muslim girls out there who struggle with and delay wearing hijab because they just don’t know how to make it work and be modest and please God while still including their sense of style, and maybe they found courage in taking that step. And there are non-Muslims (a lot of them) that have the misconception that Muslim women are oppressed, are forced to stay home, and ultimately can’t have “fun” or be independent or follow dreams or do anything really. Point is, we’re each unique, we each have our own aspirations, our own styles, our own hobbies, our own dreams, our own ways of having fun, living life, and expressing ourselves. I think if we focused less on criticizing and over-analyzing each other so much we would go a long way.
Just my opinion.
Regardless, it’s creating conversation and that’s a good thing.
Don’t usually reblog but this required it.
Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.
Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.
Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn.
Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.
Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours.
Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.
Being poor is living next to the freeway.
Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last.
Being poor is wondering if your well-off sibling is lying when he says he doesn’t mind when you ask for help.
Being poor is off-brand toys.
Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.
Being poor is knowing you can’t leave $5 on the coffee table when your friends are around.
Being poor is hoping your kids don’t have a growth spurt.
Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn’t have make dinner tonight because you’re not hungry anyway.
Being poor is Goodwill underwear.
Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you.
Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes when you run around the playground.
Being poor is your kid’s school being the one with the 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning.
Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.
Being poor is relying on people who don’t give a damn about you.
Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights.
Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support.
Being poor is a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet.
Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger’s trash.
Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.
Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a goddamned difference.
Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.
Being poor is not taking the job because you can’t find someone you trust to watch your kids.
Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours.
Being poor is not talking to that girl because she’ll probably just laugh at your clothes.
Being poor is hoping you’ll be invited for dinner.
Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.
Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk.
Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.
Being poor is your kid’s teacher assuming you don’t have any books in your home.
Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.
Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.
Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.
Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually stupid.
Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually lazy.
Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap.
Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn’t bought first.
Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that’s two extra packages for every dollar.
Being poor is having to live with choices you didn’t know you made when you were 14 years old.
Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.
Being poor is knowing you’re being judged.
Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.
Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.
Being poor is deciding that it’s all right to base a relationship on shelter.
Being poor is knowing you really shouldn’t spend that buck on a Lotto ticket.
Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime.
Being poor is feeling helpless when your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won’t listen to you beg them against doing so.
Being poor is a cough that doesn’t go away.
Being poor is making sure you don’t spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up.
Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.
Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree.
Being poor is a lumpy futon bed.
Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.
Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.
Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.
Being poor is seeing how few options you have.
Being poor is running in place.
Being poor is people wondering why you didn’t leave.
By John Scalzi
Watching Dishonesty in the Media Rip Apart a Nation
“Are all of America’s enemies as terrible as they are portrayed? Are any of them unjustly accused and blamed? Are all of the wars the U.S. has started or been involved in justifiable? What have we done? How blind have we become to the truth, and how far will we go to find it? Will we ignorantly sit back and soak up lies, misconceptions, stereotypes, and blatant deception as the world falls apart at the seams around us? As one by one nations bleed, at our hands? And what about Syria, will we let America intervene? And Palestine? Burma? What about the nations the media hasn’t even told us about? Is our silence and ignorance killing them, literally? Can we afford this dangerous and treacherous ignorance?”
As a Muslim living in North America, I couldn’t function in just a hijab, the most covert of the Muslim garbs. People threw rocks at me, asked me ignorant/offensive questions like why I chose to subject myself to an “inherently patriarchal religion,” called me a terrorist, and so many more incidences I can’t even keep track. Yet it’s totally cool to play dress-up with hair and face coverings as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with an actual Muslim? Newsflash: It’s not a costume for you to wear, it’s not another one of your attention-seeking meat/frog dresses, it’s a symbol of my religion NOT a fashion statement.
This is what catcallers are telling me: these are our streets. You are vulnerable, and we are in the position of power. You have to listen to us…. they have a right to their own bodies, while I don’t have a right to mine. They think that they have a right to my body.
Feminspire: In the Middle of a Massacre: An American Woman in Egypt
Today, I joined in. As an American who knows freedom all too well, I want so badly for my Egyptian counterparts to feel the same – to get their justice. To experience the taste of freedom that I have grown desensitized to in America. Today I was able to stand with these people and say I…
My story on Egypt, published on Feminspire.