On Feb. 1 of each year, the world celebrates Hijab Day, a day to recognize the millions of Muslim women, who wear the head covering. Also, it is a day to encourage other women from different ethnicities and religions to try wearing the Hijab and view the world from the eyes of a Muslim woman, even just for a day. World Hijab day is truly a positive gesture. But, there is more to it than meets the eye, wrapped and covered underneath.
There is no denying that Hijab made it into mainstream media. And we all witnessed it over the years. It most probably started coincidently as both a fashion statement on the runways of bespoke fashion houses and a movement to push back the endless stigma and xenophobia towards practicing Muslim women, especially in the west.
Many examples in our modern times show how much Hijab has come. From being a staple on the runway to worldwide representation in the media. A show like “Lady Parts” with an all Hijabi cast, Mona Haydar the Hijabi rapper, and Nemahsis the Hijabi singer and songwriter just to name a few are all examples to showcase how far the Hijab made it.
Even the mere fact of having a World Hijab Day that is recognized globally in itself is a telltale of the Hijab recognition. This all sounds good and well like a beautifully tailored, embroidered headscarf that is wrapped tightly around a not so honest mentality. Let’s start unwrapping.
They say “heavy is the head that wears the crown” but what if the crown was tremendously heavier, which is the case with the Hijab, and its proverbial weight on Muslim women in real life. Starting with the double standard in France where Hijab is more than allowed to be worn by models on the runway but it is banned on the streets. And it is the same situation in most of Europe with prejudice varying from banning to straight-up racist remarks and degradation.
The same goes for the US but with just a pinch of Americanism and righteousness. With the good and modernity that the representation in the media brings to the Hijab, there is a general feel of almost a cover-up on the toxic non-tolerant mentality towards the Hijab by empowering it superficially in the media just to let bashing it in real life go unnoticed.
Unwrapping the issue around the Hijab reveals a contradiction in reality. It feels like the more we see Hijabi women strongly taking on life and conquering one obstacle after the other in TV shows. The more we see these obstacles solidified in real life by prejudiced laws and racist rhetoric. And the question remains the same after all these layers of revealing. When will reality match up with the media? When will Muslim women be as free and empowered to wear their Hijab in public just like in the TV shows?