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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where OH Wear...

Two of my friends wear a headscarf, but they live out of state. Still, I know at least a dozen other friends of friends who wear it that live in my same city. BUT I NEVER SEE THEM when I go out! WHERE ARE THEY? It would be so comforting to see another hijabi (especially one who wears the scarf/pant/long shirt style that I do) when I go out. It would make me so much less self-conscious about looking different/foreign. Now, granted, I only go out to 3 or 4 different places (Target, Wal-Mart, Ross, Barnes and Noble, Half Price Books, and Dollar General-- yes I'm not very wealthy). But still, you'd think I'd see another hijabi now and then! I can count on my fingers the number of hijabi's I've just randomly seen in a year. And most of them were wearing abayas and/or African styles--only one was a scarf/pants/long shirt hijabi. Where are you guys? Where do u hang out? Where do you go shopping? You're all too cool for Wal-Mart, right? (I don't blame you there). Maybe you're just at the cool university coffee shops? At the mall?

Anyway, I've started wearing a large headband that goes from my hairline to the middle of my head, and then wrapping a long scarf loosely on top of the head, which covers the rest of my head, then bringing both ends in the front and then placing the ends around my neck. I like it looser since it is hot these days and also, it gives a different look I think, something more stylish...something more Western looking (I think, but I could be wrong). Well, this way, if it is windy, then the scarf part will slip off, which actually doesn't bother me except for me having to adjust it. But I know some pro-hijabi's would say that it doesn't count as hijab if it slips off even for a second. And they would say the same thing if a bit of neck, or ears, or arm, etc. shows too. My husband nags me when things are not completely covered up too, but to me, in general, I don't think it has to be all or nothing.

Anyway, it was this style that I was wearing (a black headband with white polka dots and a black scarf) while at Wal-Mart (I wish I didn't have to go there, but it's so convenient), both an African American man and a Caucasian man were staring at me. The AA man worked there and was stocking items, he was young, and it didn't bother me that he was staring. The Caucasian man was an elderly customer, and it DID bother me, enough so that I slightly turned my head and said, "What?!" When the AA man was looking, I thought to myself that maybe he thought my scarf looked cool and hip. When the older man was looking, I thought that he was hateful/racist. I don't know why I had these thoughts, I had no proof. It was just my thoughts and feelings. I could I have been wrong about both. Hmm... why did one bother me and not the other? Why did I assume one was admiring me and the other was judging me? Was it their race? Was it their age? Was it their behavior?

I was also wearing loose jeans, a long pink t-shirt that said TEXAS LONGHORNS in white letters on the front, and white arm covers. I really like that look because it was comfortable as well as looking cute and it covered everything. The pink and white were cool spring/summer colors and the TEXAS LONGHORNS made me feel part of the local culture.

Anyway, here is an article about the way the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints women dress, I found it interesting:
For a society accustomed to the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, the images of the women from the polygamist compound in Texas are almost shocking in their understatement: Ankle-length dresses, makeup-less faces, hauntingly uniform hair.

And while no one would accuse the women of making a fashion statement, the pioneer-style outfits are a rare example of how in an age of overexposure, modesty, too, can give pause.

The puff-sleeved, pastel dresses worn by the women in the sect are a combination of original 19th-century wear and 1950s clothing that was adopted when the church took a conservative turn, according to Janet Bennion, an anthropologist who studies polygamist women.

The dresses are meant to show modesty and conformity: They go down to the ankles and wrists, and are often worn over garments or pants, making sure every possibly provocative inch of skin is covered.em>

John Llewellyn, a polygamy expert and retired Salt Lake County sheriff's lieutenant, says the women cover themselves "so that they're unattractive to the outside world or other men."

The appearance of unity through uniform dress, however, can belie the jealousy that often arises when the women — who might all look alike to an outsider — find themselves in competition with one another over the affections of the same man, Llewellyn says.

Special stitchings detail commitment
The clothing is also stitched with special markings "to protect the body and to remind you of your commitment," Bennion says. She declined to go into detail about the stitchings because she said it would be an infraction against the fundamentalist Mormon community to talk about their sacred symbols.

Pastel colors evoke femininity and don't come across as bold or strong, says Bennion, a professor at Lyndon State College in Vermont.

Then there's the question of the elaborate hairdos.

The women never cut their hair because they believe they will use it to wash Christ's feet during the Second Coming, Bennion says. A Biblical quote says a woman's hair should be her crowning glory.

The bangs are grown out and rolled (but usually not using a curling iron, because that would be too modern). There are sausage curls on the sides and often braids down the back.

The exact history of the hairstyle is unclear, but it is reminiscent of the Gibson Girl image of the 1800s. It's a pre-World War II look, exaggerated with the pompadour, Llewellyn says. Chloe Sevigny's character in the HBO show "Big Love," about modern polygamist Mormons, has mastered the 'do.

Celebrity stylist and salon owner Ted Gibson thinks it gives off a "homely" impression.

"It says 'I don't really care very much. I really don't have time to worry about the way that I look, because I have 20 children,'" Gibson said. "He's going from wife to wife to wife, so why should I look any better than the other ones?"
The article starts off well, explaining the difference in dress, showing appreciation for a modest style. But what's with Ted Gibson's last remark? It seems rather rude and judgemental and demeaning! Now, I don't agree with the polygamy lifestyle in any way, but still, that was a rude remark. Here's the rest of the article:

It's not outlandish to imagine the prairie look influencing today's styles, given that trends can come from unexpected places, and Sevigny is known as a style-setter. You can already find blouses with high necks and ruffles in stores, and puffed shoulders on short and long-sleeved shirts.

Influencing this season's fashions?
Prairie skirts are in fashion this season, while dusty pastels and neutrals are being introduced to offset trendy bold colors and patterns.

Long hair is also on its way back in, preparing to replace the currently fashionable bobs, Gibson says. Buns never go completely out of style, according to Gibson — he often gives celebrities a half-up-half-down 'do, essentially what we're seeing in the photographs coming out of Texas.

But for the most part, the looks that arise from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are likely to stay there.

On her blog, the fashion editor of wondered if the spotlight on the Texas raid would make otherwise innocuous pastels unsavory, given their dubious association with polygamists.

"Unexpected perversion? Right-wing fads?" Susan Cernek wrote. "Sounds like a good Halloween costume ... or Marc Jacobs Spring '09."

Allison Berlin, founder of Style Made Simple, doesn't expect Mormon-inspired fashion to go mainstream.

"Women don't actually want to look like that," she says. "I can see the Brooklyn hipsters rocking a French braid, but not in a serious way. Maybe ironically."

Anyway, that's it for now.


eyes serene said...

Assalamu alaikom,
I'm curious how you're wrapping your scarf, if you are willing to show us pictures. (You might get some criticism, I've noticed online that many people are much freer in their manners). It seems like hijab is a lot of headache for you... I'm sorry to hear this. I hope you find a way to be more comfortable with it. I don't really mind if I stand out for the most part, unless I'm getting stared at by a lot of people, or I feel unsafe. You need to move to southeastern Michigan, there are lots of us here. heh ;)

Scarf Ace said...

there are a couple of pictures of me in previous posts, maybe like months ago. i live in texas--george bush's homestate--ugh! i've heard dearborn michigan is a big place for muslims, is that where u are?