Thursday, November 20, 2008

Plain style

Greek Orthodox nuns by dinu.mendrea

Kosher life by vadania

Plain and modest in 2 religions... by wayupnorthtonowhere

3 Amish girls by macaSTAT

Amish girl by kesselring

Esfahan 2008 by aisha59

Women in Istanbul by letizialetisssia

Indonesian women on the beach by sergiopigo

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I want to be plain.

I bought a dark blue jilbab to add to my collection of modest clothes. I got it at charity shop in the "international" section (they also had many salwar kameez, Indian/Pakistani outfits). I'm not an expert on what is in style in jilbabs. In fact, I never really wore one before. ^_^

I think black is always in style, but I don't like a lot of sequins and trims on everything like this (urgh). To me this navy one looks a little outdated, I don't see anyone wearing these. It has snaps all down the front and the snaps are covered in ugly gold buttons (the buttons are glued on to the fabric, arrrgh!!), but I'm going to try and gently rip them off & replace them with more subtle dark blue buttons.

It looks somewhat like a church choir robe in the way that it is cut, it has an above-the-bust 'waist' (which is great for hiding curves), pleats in the back and cuff sleeves. It is a little too long for me but does not drag on the ground and otherwise fits nicely. It is really hard to find modest clothes in a petite size and I cannot afford to have something tailored specifically for me. I mainly shop in charity shops (I'm saving up my to buy this for myself) I got this jilbab for $7, it looks like it was only worn a few times. Some people have an issue wearing used clothing, but I don't care as long as it looks like new and I washed it. I love dark navy blue. The camera flash made this look brighter than it is in reality, it is a deep dark navy blue. Once I get those ugly buttons off it will be a great outerwear piece for spring/early autumn but not warm enough for icy the pre-winter weather here now.

*Note: I wear funky stuff and whatever I feel like around the house. I only throw on big, figure-obscuring plain and unattractive things when I leave the house.*

Strange scarf style

Ok, she is very pretty and I'm not going to judge this girl's style but I'm wondering how does she keep this scarf on her head at all? It seems like it would slip off every 2 seconds especially being silk. Wouldn't that get really annoying after a while? Why not wear a hooded sweatshirt or something? A hoodie actually stays put on your head and also looks more "cool" than a silk scarf half falling off your head. :-)

I'm not sure but I think this is an Iranian way of wearing a headscarf, it is an "I'm not really into this religion thing, I'm only wearing this because I have to," sort of thing.

What am I?

People have asked me a few times what am I, "Jewish, Christian, Muslim or something else?" I always have a bad reaction to private questions from someone I don't know. I know I should be open about it and share, but I consider my beliefs something special between me and God and I've been hurt too many times by people on the basis of religion. Perhaps I am still figuring it out myself.

There are so many cruel souls out there who use religion to hurt people, there are so many people who when they find out you are another religion they want to convert you to their's. I could never do that, I am opinionated but when it comes to people of other faiths I have a real "live and let live" philosophy. So even on this blog I'm not going to reveal anything personal about myself, even my own religion, accept to say I respect Judaism, Christianity and Islam equally.

Dressed but naked...

I look at a lot of modest dress blogs, and IMO overall the Christian women are actually more modest than the Muslimahs, even though the Christian women don't always cover their hair, ankles, wrists etc. The reason I say they are more modest is they are usually more simple and plain and frugal in their style choices, and that for me is a big part of what modesty really means.

You don't see a lot of Orthodox or Plain Christian women posting blogs about their love of high heeled shoes or bright orange & sequined caftans or what shade of lipstick to wear. I see these kind of posts on so-called "hijabi style" blogs a lot. There's something laughable about a woman in a neon pink abaya, blue hijab, designer high heels, plucked eyebrows with every pore of her face slathered in 3 coats of makeup, obsessing over whether or not a strand of her hair might be showing and thinking she is being "modest."

I grew up in an area with a large Muslim population and I never saw Muslim girls dressing like this even just 5-10 years ago. Now it is very common to see a Muslim woman in skin-tight clothes wearing a hijab on her head. I see Muslimahs born into Muslim families wearing tight clingy things I would never dream of wearing out in public.

I'm trying to figure out what is the root of the confusion. I think there are two main things at play here: post-9/11 Muslimahs were harassed and attacked for being visibly Muslim and there still is a lot of hostility toward Muslims in Western countries. These "fashion-hijabis" say they want to be fashionable and stylish, but I think they are partially motivated by making themselves look hip, Western/secular and thus less threatening to the non-Muslims around them. A flowery pink hijab is less severe to the Western eye than a black chador. Most of the hijabi fashionista bloggers seem to be born Muslims either born or living in the West or converts growing up in the West.

Another thing I feel is coming into play is Muslim women in the Islamic world are experiencing a spiritual revival, but they are trying to make this fit with the secular tastes which are all around them and in the mass media (i.e., places like Egypt where the hijababe phenomenon erupted). They are trying to adapt their religion to their personal tastes rather than the other way around.

Christian modesty bloggers are doing the opposite. For a Christian woman to dress in a specifically modest way, and especially covering the head, they are mostly doing something very out of the ordinary for their faith and culture. They seem to be drawn away from secular fashions is if to make a strong statement that they are not "of this world." Muslim women who cover their bodies and heads on the other hand are doing something largely accepted in their faith and culture, and so they do not feel as compelled to make an anti-fashion statement. I don't know how to explain it clearly, but that's the sense I get.

Clearly a lot of women out there, including those inclined toward modest dress, are looking to the outside to fix something internal. This is a problem which effects all women. We buy clothes and makeup and perfume to feel good about ourselves. Why do we feel bad about ourselves in the first place? Usually, it is those same companies which make the clothes, makeup and perfume using advertisements to make us feel bad! So in being "fashionable" we feed into and perpetuate our own misery.

What does it really mean to be "stylish?" To me, being stylish means expressing the true, inner you to the world through the way you dress and present yourself. I am a very shy, modest person and it comes through in my clothes. People understand something about you by looking at how you present yourself physically. When I see a Muslim woman who is wearing tight, flashy or trendy clothes but a headscarf on her head, the message I get from that is "I'm very confused about who and what I am."

What I see in so-called "hijabi style" blogs is not style per se, but trendiness. Puting on the latest trend is not stylish at all. Looking through Glamour or Cosmopolitan or Vogue or looking at what celebs are wearing and then adding some long sleeves, a headcovering etc is not being stylish. It's more like being a slave to someone else's idea of what is fashionable, i.e. being trendy. When you look through fashion magazines and adopt those ideas, that is what you're saying to the world: "I'm a slave to trends and I want to be accepted by the world as 'cool'!"

If you're dressing modestly out of a religious belief, being seen as "cool" by the greater secular society is the last thing you should want. When you copy ideas from magazines and celebs, think about who you are trying to be accepted by: the sort of people who get their cues of behavior and dress from the media, from sex-obsessed women's magazines and celebrities are most likely not the sort of people you ought to be following or impressing. You're going against God when you follow the Godless. If you are really dressing for God why would you follow secular fashion trends at all? I don't know what is "in style" and I don't care.

How can you justify buying expensive designer clothes from some (likely homosexual) designer whose advertisements almost always degrade women, and use nakedness or depictions sexual perversion to sell their products? These are the same fashion designers who parade twig-thin teenage girls pumped full of cocaine half-naked on the catwalks and make grown women feel awful about their own natural, normal grown woman bodies. How can you put even one cent of your money into those designer's hands and feel good about it? I've seen women wearing headscarves with Calvin Klein logos on it. :-/

Another thing to consider is the proper dress code is one of the things which draws people to Islam in the first place. I remember growing up always being fascinated by the long robes and headcoverings that Muslim women wore, and I knew even as a child that was the way I wanted to dress one day when I grew up! I thought about how it was exactly like those pictures in my 'Picture Bible,' all those depictions of Biblical women like Virgin Mary (ra). When someone looks at a hijababe they get a wrong impression about Islam.

When modern Christianity lost its sense of modesty in dress (at least most sects have) all the other sins you see so-called Christians engaging in seemed to follow in after that. Clothing is important because it effects behavior and social decorum.

As for makeup, do you know how bad the cosmetic industry is for the environment and for human health? Many cosmetics contain poisons and known carcinogens. Read about it here. You slather chemicals on your face to look better, but it can end up killing you and destroying nature. Ladies, if you need makeup to feel better about yourself, would it not be prudent to look inside yourself for what is making you feel inadequate?

Women wear makeup and jewellery and flashy colors it is to attract attention to themselves and to compete with other women. There is no other reason for it. That is what secular fashion is all about. You can say that is not your intention and you just want to be "stylish" but others don't see it like that. Men especially do not see it that way. When you cover up but use alluring glittery fabrics, bright colors and sexy shoes, you send a mixed message to men.

The Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu`alayhi wa sallam) stated that in later generations of his ummah there would be "women who would be dressed but naked and on top of their heads what looks like camel humps. Curse them for they are truly cursed." (Muslim)

What means "dressed but naked?" To me, it would be an outfit which overs the body but shows the curves (like I said, many Muslim women dress this way these days) or an outfit which is so flashy and wild it draws attention to the woman as if she were standing there naked (ditto).

I have more respect for plain dressed Christian women who do not cover their hair than I do for a Muslimah who slathers herself in makeup, wears neon colors, and wears skin-tight clothing but always wears a headscarf. Because the modest Christian woman in turning to modest dress is rejecting the whims of the society around her, and going against decades of practices within her faith. She is doing something which takes a lot of courage for her.

The hijabi fashionista on the other hand is trying to fit into the perverted materialistic culture around her and going against what she knows is right and being led by her ego. "I want to feel good about myself and be stylish." This should not be your motivation in how you dress. If you want to feel good about yourself, volunteer or give to charity. Looking to Calvin Klein and JLo is not the behavior of a modest, chaste, humble woman who orients herself toward God and wants people to accept her for her intellect and spirit. When you bring secular influence into something which is supposed to humble you & remind you of God, you profane it and it becomes spiritually meaningless. You become "dressed but naked."

Yeah, I'm not perfect and I'm not claiming to be. But it bothers me to see people who are on the right track (living their lives for God) but being led astray by their own ego, and then sticking their fingers in their ears when someone calls them on the harm they are doing to themselves. This sort of criticism is not meant to insult anyone or make them feel ashamed or make me feel better about myself or superior. It is about helping you, me and everyone else question why it is they do the things they do and hopefully understand & accept themselves.