So, it’s quite possible that the majority of people outside of Islamic countries have only seen black hijabs…on angry women. Generally speaking, the Middle East doesn’t get much press time in mainstream media unless there’s a war or a protest going on. Consequently, outside images of Muslims are taken when Muslims are very angry or very sad. Also, of course, the hijab has become the most singular symbol of women’s repression.
Spend a little time around the hip women of the Islamic world, however, and you will soon discover that a hijab can be an enviable accessory.
Hijabs come in every color, in a million fantastic patterns, in wool, in silk, in cotton, with sequins, fancy trim, set with Swavroski crystals (fer cryin’ out loud), gold threading, lace, and on and on. One could spend an entire day bopping around hijab stores. This is before you even get to accessories; pins, flowers, jewels, headbands… you get the idea.
Think about it. Using a hijab to put an outfit together is not unlike using a painting in your living room to inspire a redecorating scheme. Many women in Amman, and in the greater ME region, are very fashion oriented, similar to women in, say, Italy.
There is also a lot of variation in how a hijab is wrapped. It is somewhat related to place, but not entirely. For example, in Jordan, the most common style is a wrap that starts on one side of the head, wraps all the way around, and is then pinned on the side:
The popular Turkish hijab style is generally pinned on the bottom and has a bit of extra material that extends past the forehead (invoking the image of a periscope to some):
Often the style in Gulf countries involves a kind of … hair augmentation. It is unclear what they have going on under the hijab, but the result is this large conic addition to their head. Perhaps it’s possible that many Gulf women just have incredibly thick long hair:
Other styles abound. Recently, it has been more common to see hijabs tied behind the woman’s head in sort of a bandana style. It’s a very modern look. Frequently the neck is still covered by a separate piece of material:
Hijabs are a huge industry. Try doing a Google image search by typing in ‘hijab fashion’ and you can see for yourself what an amazing array is out there. There are also many blogs dedicated to Islamic wear, with the bloggers excitedly talking about the latest styles.
If you want to get an impression of how regular women around the globe wear their hijabs, a great website is http://www.hijabshigh.com/. This blog is all about showing off street style.
Whether or not this trend is appropriate is another conversation. Some conservative Muslims argue that the idea of hijab is to present oneself modestly and that these designs negate that intention. However, others feel that, since the women have their skin and hair covered, they are indeed modest…yet entirely fashionable.