Ajar Thread: A Hijab Fashion Trend I Hated But Did Anyway

A version of this was originally posted on my fashion Tumblr, where you can see how much I care (obsess?) over my presentation.

There are many types of headscarves that Muslim women wear; this guide is hardly exhaustive, but it covers the types I used to wear.

I started my scarf-wearing career at the age of 8 with the Al-Amira style. Two years later, when I started took up full-time hijab, I wore unpatterned triangle-shaped or patterned folded-square headscarves. I hated the lace trim that almost inevitably adorned the triangles, but they were opaque, single-layer, and made of breathable cotton. They also didn’t require much in the way of accouterments: just a pin under the chin and maybe one for decoration and/or to pin one of the hanging ends up to my shoulder. If some of my unruly, poufy hair decided to peek out from the front of my scarf, I could tuck it back in without having to completely rearrange the scarf. The practicality suited me.

a scowling teenage Heina in a hoodie with fake stubble painted onto her face
And, very rarely, I’d wear the least pretty style of all: half-assed drag comprised of a pinned hoodie and black eyeshadow “stubble”

Just because we covered up didn’t mean that there weren’t trends that made their way to us. When the shayla came around, I resisted it rather stubbornly. I couldn’t understand why I was being pressured to try a “prettier” style since, to me, the point of wearing hijab was not having to fuss about my appearance or follow a trend. Eventually, in one of the few incidents of my life where I succumbed to peer pressure, I caved in.

The wrapped shayla style is far more of a hassle than the plain triangle or square. It requires, at the very minimum, both a safety pin or brooch under the chin and a long hatpin at the top of the head. Wearing a shayla also means having to wear cap or headband for at least one of three reasons.

  1. The sheerness of the shayla necessitates extra coverage.
  2. The silkiness of the shayla means that stray hairs cannot not simply be tucked back into the scarf (and even with the cap, there’s minimal margin for error without having to re-wrap).
  3. The slipperiness of the shayla requires something underneath to keep it in place.

For me, the best part of coming out as having left Islam, was, at first, letting those treacherously slippery fabrics unwind themselves from my head and slide their way to the floor and away from me forever.

Are there any fashion trends to which you succumbed due to peer pressure? Or any that you just hate?

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Ajar Thread: A Hijab Fashion Trend I Hated But Did Anyway
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3 thoughts on “Ajar Thread: A Hijab Fashion Trend I Hated But Did Anyway

  1. 1

    This is how young women in my area wear the hijab. It looks super complicated to achieve…

    As for clothes I hated, kids in the UK have to wear school uniform and when I was at school skirts were compulsory for girls. I actively hated wearing skirts and have virtually never worn one throughout my adult life. In my last year of school we got a new headmaster who said he was going to allow the sixth form girls to wear trousers and if anyone had any objections, he would insist the female staff also wore skirts. I was so relieved!

    By the time my daughter started school in Britain, many schools had the choice of trousers or skirts. Some of them also offer alternative uniforms for Muslim girls (trousers, tunics and headscarf in school colours). It’s not uncommon to see a school with girls in all three different uniform styles.

  2. 3

    This may not count as such, but here you go. Up until very recently, I worked in the oil industry and frequently went on business trips around the world to train people. On my first trip to Abu Dhabi, time hung heavy on my hands one weekend in September, and I did “what everyone does” there: I visited the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Knowing in a general way that I needed to dress modestly, I put on long flowing plain black polyester trousers and a long plain black slinky tunic with a high neck and long sleeves, and was wearing black socks with sensible walking shoes.

    Once I got to the mosque, to my surprise a pair of friendly ladies at the door issued me with a long black robe and black headscarf that I had to put on as a condition of my entry. I think I lost two gallons of sweat in the 50-degree heat while on the tour of the mosque (what air conditioning?). My headscarf kept slipping because I had never worn one before, and a charming tiny old lady on the tour with me kept tutting and reaching up to fix it, which was actually highly amusing.

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