If you’ve been watching the news lately (which I do way too much of), you might have noticed that it is continually dismal. I don’t want to get into politics too much here, but the division in our country seems like it is greater than it ever has been before. One thing that specifically bothers me is when a specific group is singled out and subjected to hate and bigotry, be it for their gender, race, sexual orientation, or faith. A couple weeks ago, I was watching a random video on Facebook about a Muslim woman whose mom begged her not to wear her headscarf, or hijab, because of the current political climate and rising Islamaphobia. Her mom described the headscarf as a “target on her head.” She spoke about how random strangers off the street yell awful things at her, which I won’t repeat here. That video really struck me, and I realized a couple things. The first was that I know absolutely zero Muslims. This seems a bit shocking as I live in Los Angeles, one of the largest “melting pots” in this country. My second realization was that I had no idea why Muslim women wore a headscarf…are they forced to do it? Do they even want to? These are all questions that I had but, like I said, I just didn’t know anyone to ask! The third thing I realized is that I wanted to do something about this growing hate and prejudice, but what could I do? Then the idea dawned on me: why not collaborate with a Muslim fashion blogger to try to shed some light on this issue while also educating myself, and hopefully others? So I did a little digging, and found my new friend, Hassanah El-Yacoubi.
Hassanah’s blog is called PFH (which stands for Perfect for Her), and it is a fashion blog for the modern Muslim woman that features her fabulous personal style and various foodie adventures as well as features of other fashionable hijabi women. She started her blog as a way to help her girlfriends figure out how to wear their headscarves in a fashionable way, and also to encourage Muslim women to wear their hijabs with pride and style. I came across her instagram about a month ago and instantly obsessed with her elegant and creative style. When we met up a couple weekends ago, it didn’t take long to realize we have so much in common! We are both UC students (I’m an undergraduate at University of California Los Angeles, she is working towards her Ph.D at University of California Riverside), we are the same age, we both came from conservative upbringings, love a good workout, and we both fashion lovers. When I arrived at her home in Riverside, we quickly hit it off. It is so fun when you meet someone that you immediately click with!
While most of our conversation was anything you could expect when two fashion bloggers get together, I learned so much that day. First of all, and this might come to a shock for some, but for Hassanah and many other Muslim women, wearing the hijab is their choice, and they love it. To Hassanah, her headscarf lets everyone know right off the bat that she is a Muslim, which is exactly what she wants. She strives to break the stereotype that Muslim women are sequestered away in their homes. Obviously, as a Ph.D student and a fashion blogger, she is anything but a kept woman! But first and foremost, she wears the hijab because that is what God commands of her. All of these reasons seemed completely understandable and reasonable, but I was curious about something else: can a hijab fit into a modern, feminist worldview? I have heard so many people declare that it suppresses women. I was surprised to learn that another reason Muslim women wear the hijab is so that people will appreciate them for their minds, not for their physical appearance. If you ask me, that definitely sounds pretty feminist, and was a really revealing motivation for wearing the headscarf.
If there’s anything I would ask you to take away from this post, it is this: if you are afraid or suspicious of someone because they do something that you don’t understand, reach out to them and have a conversation! I think this is one of the major reasons why our country is so divided and there is so much hate against different minority and religions groups, such as Muslims. Too many people are basing their perceptions around the media, when that image is actually false. Reach out to someone who is different from you and connect to them on a human level….you might just make a new friend, like I did with Hassanah! At the end of the day, you will probably find that you have more similarities than differences, which could not be more true of Hassanah and I, who speak the language of fashion fluently.
Alright, with all of that being said, you probably came here for the fashion, so we are going to give it to you! Hassanah and I decided it would be fun if we both styled overalls for spring to show you the differences and similarities in the way we dress. Overalls are still going strong and I’m not mad about it. Yes, maybe they bring back memories of grade school (when I had them in every color), but honestly there are few things that are as comfortable to wear as a pair of overalls. If you’re afraid to look like you’re headed to a hoedown, here’s my word of advice: Don’t wear these with plaid shirts. There! Done! That’s really the only advice I have to give, because that is the one combination that is guaranteed to make you look like you’re going out for Halloween or a night of square dancing. Here, Hassanah styled her overalls in a more minimalist, monochromatic way, and I love the way she layered the white button down under her cropped sweater to add visual interest to her look. I decided to flirt a bit with the hoedown theme and styled mine with a gingham blouse with statement sleeves. The statement sleeves help it not feel too Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, right?! I hope you all have enjoyed this post! I look forward to collaborating with other LA blogger babes in the future, so if there’s a piece you want to see styled two ways, drop your suggestion in the comments below!
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