Muslim women express themselves through their hijabs

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Photo Credit: Brittany Mendez | Daily Texan Staff

A light green button up catches undeclared freshman Nadia Syed’s eye as she gets ready for her day. She grabs her signature green hijab to match, wraps it around her head and walks out the door.

Throughout her childhood, Syed said she rarely strayed from her one-piece black scarves. After her junior year of high school, she began experimenting with scarves of different colors and now enjoys the process of putting together different outfits.

“I used to be so caged in my hijab,” Syed said. “Then I started wearing different colors and people started noticing and complimenting me. It made me feel good.”

Hijabs are scarf-like garments worn as a part of Muslim cultural and religious practices of modesty. Women who wear them are called “hijabis.” Syed said stylistic variations in hijabi fashion allow Muslim women to grow and embrace their hijab and embed it into their self expression.

Now, Syed owns around 15 different colored scarves, many of which are varying shades of green and brown. Syed said finding a way to incorporate her scarf into her self expression has allowed her to become more confident in herself by combining modesty with fashion.

“Just embrace it,” Syed said. “I used to think I didn’t look pretty with it on. I think a lot of hijabis don’t feel pretty wearing a scarf.”

Middle Eastern Studies professor Faegheh Shirazi studies the economics of Islamic fashion. She said choosing to wear a hijab is a personal decision and shouldn’t be questioned the same way wearing a cross necklace or a baseball hat wouldn’t be questioned.

“(A hijabi is) wearing that style because she’s expressing her right to have religion and at the same time, she’s dressing any way she wants,” Shirazi said.

Shirazi also said that over the years she has seen more hijabis on campus, as well as represented in the media and fashion industry. She has seen hijabis become a part of pop culture and predicts that these trends will only continue.

“I am optimistic about the future because more and more of the younger people could make change, with hijab or without hijab,” Shirazi said.

Sociology junior Karma Dadoush began wearing a hijab when she started college. She said her style has evolved as she has begun incorporating it into her everyday wear.

“My style has changed for the better since I tend to pay attention to what I wear more,” Dadoush said.

Dadoush emphasized the importance of being versatile in her fashion choices and balancing professionalism with her own style and religious beliefs.

As Dadoush has grown into adulthood, she said she has come to terms with the fact that she is not another face in the crowd because of her hijab. She stands out and feels a certain level of responsibility to represent other Muslim women in a positive light through her style and day to day choices.

“I’m more noticeable. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is debatable, but it’s definitely there,” Dadoush said. “I don’t just blend in because of my hijab. I try to use my hijab to show other people who don’t know a lot about Islam or might have some misconceptions that we can be cool and stylish too.”