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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shrug it Off

I can't find a shrug to save my life. It's a cropped light jacket that has sleeves. I need one that is lightweight cotton with long sleeves preferably with good chest coverage and no ties on the tummy area to cover up the few sleeveless tops I bought like this one from Chadwicks.dom, on sale for $15.00:
But the ones I got from Ross Dress For Less are even better than this photo because they have no stitching on the body of the dress so it is not tight in any place. Sleeveless tops are everywhere. I like the A-line dresses that I can use as long tops over pants. And instead of wearing a long sleeve t-shirt underneath or a cardigan on top, I've been looking for a shrug, but can't find one that I like anywhere, not even the Internet (unless it's a designer one over $100). I ordered one from http://www.target.com back in May and just last week they emailed me to say it's no longer in stock. Ugh. Thanks a lot, Target.Com! I've found these shrugs at some dance wear shops. These are from discountdance.com for $16.00. They will work as sleeves, but not sure if they'll cover the arm pits. I wish I could find one that buttoned on top!

There are several shrugs and boleros at Dancewearsolutions.com. Here is one that is nice looking, for $32, but so far only comes in pastel colors (I need a white one and a black one) and this is a bit warm looking:

This one from Dancewearsolutions.com is cool, for $18.00 will provide good chest coverage (and doesn't tie on the stomach which I don't like either). But it has a hood, which might or might not look odd depending on the type of outfit. I might go ahead and order this one:

Here is another one from REI.com, but it is more sporty then I need. It's called a bolero, for $35.00:

Here's a nice one from Dillards.com. But it's $80.00, too expensive for me. And it might not work for summer because I'd still need to wear arm covers since its sleeves don't go all the way down to the wrists:

So I haven't worn those sleeveless tops much this summer. I bought this white button down shirt that is a bit light and lacy which I've worn a couple of times with a couple of the sleeveless top/dresses. But I do not like the way it looks overall. I rather have a sleek looking shrug...the cropped aspect of it makes it more summer-like and feels less layered. Hmm...I'll keep looking...............

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hijab Alternative

Instead of posting only on my inner faith and purpose struggles with hijab, I'm InshaaAllah going to also post about the joy and difficulty of finding clothes that actually cover while "expressing myself." When I was in junior high and high school, I was in the "gothic/new waver" crowd mixing up with hippy and punk styles too. I wore dark, thick black eyeliner on the bottom and top lashes. Crazy, mixed up clothes including Pakistani shalwars, which are loose, baggy pants and Pakistani jewelry, ethnic style. I wore my Dad's old clothes, I wore a chain wallet in my pocket. Corduroy jackets from Goodwill with my paperback Malcolm X Autobiography sticking out the side pocket. And again, crazy strange finds from the used clothing store, a black leather jacket with white stitching was one of my faves.

Those were the days.

I guess you could call me an "alternative" dresser back then.

Now things are different. Not only because of the hijab, but I'm now older, can't get away with cutting edge stuff. Have two kids now, gotta be comfortable. Pregnancy and staying at home has added another 30 pounds to my short 5 foot frame. I've got an "aunty" body now. A "belly" with no waist. Clothes, especially shirts, do not fit. Pants without elastic don't fit either. Then add the hijab codes to it and you got a difficult situation. Pile on the fact that I don't wanna look "foreign" to America and you got yourself a pain in the neck. Oh and don't forget the fact that it's rare to find conservative clothes in the average American shop. Oh, and did I mention that I've never gone to get anything tailored and my mom hems my pants if needed? Yeah, not so polished. And as a mom with two toddlers, I don't have time, energy, or motivation to go the mall and explore every store to find stuff, so I'm often limited to the Internet to find clothes. Not to mention that it's hard to find 100% cotton clothing for some reason. And did I mention I am poor...er...um, I mean, on a strict budget?!

Have I complained enough? Heheh.

Usually, I wear loose athletic pants that I got from http://www.fashionbug.com. (That is, unless I'm wearing my favorite baggy MATERNITY jeans from Motherhood Maternity--yes, gasp! I wear it though I am not currently preggers...the shame....)Anyway, back to the knit athletic pants from fashionbug: I have a pair in black, navy, and gray. The black ones are in a size small so I don't wear those as much as the navy and gray which are size medium. They are too long for me so I have to wear them with a heel, which is usually my black clogs which I also got from fashionbug.com. The pants are awesome, and I wish I could buy more of them...and they are in size petite even. But fashionbug doesn't seem to sell them anymore, nor the clogs. Here's a pic of some pants that are similar:
http://www.fashionbug.com/pagebuilder/fashion_bug_product_page?nav=Misses&item=1259829&pagesize=3&sub_cat=BOTTOMS&shop=


And I got several tunics from this Pakistani store called PASSIONS Clothing which I usually wear with an undershirt (to prevent sheerness and neck exposure). I like the tunics because they are long-sleeved and a couple of them have a high collar. I don't like them because they are very ethnic looking and while that look is cool on non-Pakistanis, it just makes me look, well, just ethnic, which is fine some days, but some days I rather look Western. I can't find a pic of the ones I have, but here is a similar one from http://www.kaneesha.com:

So on Western days, that's when I wear my cotton long sleeved tops from http://www.blair.com. The blair.com site is down right now, but here is a HANES shirt that is similar: http://www.amazon.com/NEW-Hanes-Ladies-Sleeve-T-Shirt/dp/B0012FPMZA/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&s=apparel&qid=1217106789&sr=1-11

I like the one from the Blair.com site because it is long enough to cover my rear-end and the material, cotton, is soft. But it is really shapeless and the neckline is wide and low, so that stinks.

Lately I like to wear a an oblong scarf, usually over a headband, folded in half, with one half hanging from the front and one half hanging in the back. I like this because it actually feels more like a "scarf" to me, rather than the triangle scarf that looks either dowdy or like a helmet with no chest coverage when I try to where it.

Here is a pic of me on a typical outing with my husband and kids. That's one of my tunics that I prefer because the color and print is understated. Here I'm wearing my maternity jeans and black clogs. This is how I prefer to wear my scarf now, but if the shirt has a wide neck, you can see a bit of my skin showing and that's something my hubby would point out:


InshaAllah in future posts, I'll post some "hijab alternative" pieces here and there. Unlike the other hijab fashion blogs that focus on an entire outfit, I'll share the pieces that I think are cool and can be used as part of hijab. They're not always practical. Most of them are for cold climates and outdoor use only. But I like having alternative options.

Anyway, back to the usual topics of this blog....

The other day my Uncle, (Mom's brother), came over to the house. This uncle is totally like another father figure, but I knew the rules of hijab required me to wear a headscarf in front of him. I almost did not want to go because of that reason, wearing a headscarf inside is uncomfy, especially in my own house and wouldn't it be awkward?! Still, I wore it and because my husband is picky about any skin showing, I even wore in that dowdy, nerdy way with a triangle scarf with the sides hanging down because my shirt had a wide neck and the scarf wasn't big enough to tie the sides back (I hadn't expected my Uncle to be there so I had just thrown on whatever scarf was there). Anyway, after my Uncle left, I took off my scarf and my Mom said to me: "You don't have to wear hijab in front of your Uncle." "Yes, I do," I said. "You do? Hmm... well your hair looks good like that." "I know..." I wanted to say 'well, [my hubby] would insist I wear it because it's in the rules..' but I didn't say that because I thought what's the point of "blaming" it on my hubby? The rules are the rules. Just leave it at that.

In addition, when I am out alone, if I know I'm just going to be out for a short while, like from my apartment door to my car or some days on a short trip to the library where no one will "see me displayed" in one place for long, I usually wear my oblong scarf on my head, ends wrapped around and loose-- often with my hair on top and some of my neck showing. So there. That's what I do now. It's a bit like this pic from the Vermont Store, but the scarf I wear is not as wide as this one:

Instead of chucking the whole thing or forcing myself to do it the strict way, that's the way I do it now. For now. I guess I am officially a "half hijabi." Don't tell my husband. Or the other hijabi sheriffs in town. I'll send them a memo later.

Peace out.

P.S. As a former Writing tutor, I must admit that I have many run-on sentences here. I just hate to add commas all the time.

Yup Yup.

CORRECTION: Thanks to the comment from a reader, I did some research and found that the rule of hijab does not need to be applied to one's mother's brother afterall. So my mother was right. I did not need to wear the headscarf in front of my Uncle afterall! Thanks again to the reader who left the comment. More info can be found here: http://www.al-islam.org/womensissues/9.htm

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Said It All...

I've been at a point where I feel like I have nothing new to add to the blog, but I'll go ahead and jot some stuff down here.

Um...so I saw the hijabi at the library again and this time we said Salam to each other, so that was nice.

Anyway, the understanding about "walking the line," as God outlined has not helped me as much as I thought it might in terms of being content with wearing the headscarf. Although it does help me understand the hijabi police sheriffs who are ever so strict with the line--insisting it is drawn at the wrists, jawline, ankles, etc. (Although I do think they need to lighten up---I understand why they don't).

On the night of July 4th, I had to go to the local Wal-Greens to pick up a supply. It was nearly 10 PM and I was alone. I have not been out that late alone for years. I felt vulnerable, especially since I figured on July 4th, there are more rowdy people out there looking for a good time, plus the Wal-Greens store was about to close. So, all this anxiety added up and I of course felt worried about walking in with my headscarf, not wanting any attention or being the target of negative attention. I had the thought that some other Muslim might think, so what if it makes me a target? Allah will protect me because I am wearing this headscarf for Allah. But I didn't. I thought, if I feel threatened by this scarf, then why force the issue? So I wore my scarf loose around my head, very loose. As I waited in line, a group 4 teenage boys ran in and I got really nervous, they walked behind me and snickered although it could be for any reason. So anyway, that's just another story where afterwards I thought--I don't really DO hijab do I?
But I still feel in my heart that even if all the evidence points to the fact that God Himself thinks that women should only expose their face and hands (sometimes feet?) in pubic, He'll still forgive me and understand why it makes me feel uneasy and out of place doing so in this day in this country. So I'm cool with that. Although my first wish is that the headscarf was more common (and therefore less strange/mysterious/odd) in America, I also wish that NOT wearing the headscarf was more accepted in strict Muslim structures like my Islamic center.

But I know it's difficult for people to agree on where to draw the line...so it goes back to understanding why some Muslims cut through all the crap/pondering/wondering/feeing/analyzing (that is the content of most of my blog) and just say...the line is clear, now get on with it. I feel like I should do that and just shut up now! Perhaps I've said it all................