GUEST BLOGGER RESPONSE: FEMINISM FREEDOM AND THE HIJAB

Miriam Aslam, 25, is a fashion stylist from Birmingham. Here, she tells us about her own personal relationship with the Hijab.

“As a British Pakistani Muslim living in England, I wanted to write a response to Holly’s recent blog about the hijab and feminism to give my view on things. I haven’t always worn hijab so I wanted to explain why I chose to wear it, my experiences since and it what it means to me as a woman.

It was just under two years ago that I took to wearing a head scarf. It was a combination of two things, becoming older and wanting to take my religion more seriously, and wanting to show God how humbled I was by the amazing people in my life.

As my hair had always been a bit of an obsession of mine, spending crazy amounts on designer haircuts and products, I though that by giving that up I would go some way to showing how grateful I was. That’s it, it was that simple. No, really.

The first day in the office was a little scary, I had told just one colleague what I planned to do on the following Monday. I spent the next few days talking to people about it and explaining Islamic as well as personal reasons for wearing a hijab. For the first time in a long time i felt I was making a difference to how Islam was perceived and that was very empowering. I wouldn’t consider myself much of a feminist but I don’t feel that wearing a scarf makes me any less of one by wearing it. I want to be respected for who I am and how well I do something in spite of the way I look and dress just like any other woman.

I don’t think I lose my sense of femininity either, as now that’s more of a private thing I express in the comfort of my own home and just for myself.

A few weeks into wearing my scarf I went for a job interview. I am not normally nervous but this time I was, it was the first time I had attended a job interview wearing a headscarf. I decided to put on my most expensive suit (In this case, an amazing navy Reiss suit, for all you fashion lovers!) so I looked the business.

At the end of the interview the interviewer asked me how I felt things had gone. I answered in the usual way of ‘ I think we built up a good rapport’ etc but I admitted that I had been nervous because of my headscarf. He was kind enough to ask what it meant and said that he had forgotten that I was wearing it within a minute of meeting me.

It was a great moment for me because I realised that my scarf was doing exactly what I wanted it to do and hadn’t hindered his perception of me as a professional, and if anything, focused his attention on my professionalism rather than my gender.

I hope I have given you some insight into what wearing a headscarf is like, just like your little black dress, or those killer heels, it empowers me, and other women who choose to wear one, giving them confidence. Yes, I have simplified things here, but religion isn’t as complicated as people feel the need to make it.”

Check out Miriam’s image consultancy and fashion stylist service on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FashPak

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