Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dirt Off Her Shoulder

It has been a while since my last posting, and in that time, I have found that I have been operating in a comfort zone with the hijab. By now, I have seen most of the people that I know who might have questions. It has become second-nature to me now to put it on in the mornings (I'm actually getting pretty good at wrapping it). I have even been able to navigate social interactions in a way that has made me feel more human--specifically, when I'm feeling a disconnect with strangers that I sense might have something to do with my appearance, I smile and actually verbally engage the other person. It is amazing how a "Hi, there!" or a small, genuine compliment can create connection. I sense also that most strangers are surprised to learn from my verbal interaction with them that I do indeed speak English fluently!

I am still wrestling with this mainstream American culture's discomfort with the hijab. I have become sensitized to the reality that hijabis are rarely presented in any tangible way within mainstream culture. Hijabis are a subculture in and of themselves, but they also represent the culturally misunderstood and sometimes misrepresented culture of Islam.

I know I have expressed my concern with the content in the messages that society sends to women and men and children. I also know that society will also always send us messages about who we are as a social humans. I believe that the content of these messages have the potential to be extremely life-giving and encourage the flourishing of healthy human relationships. We have seen advertisements that include individuals from different ethnicities. We read books where women are the heroines. We have seen movies that champion interracial couples. We have seen sitcoms that embrace members of the LGBTQI community.

So where are all of the hijabis in this mix? Perhaps as a subculture we are not viewed as major audience for marketing. But still, I am surprised at my desire to be marketed to. I want that recognition, I want to hear the message, "I know you're out there, I know what you're all about, and here's something I thought you might be interested in." I shudder to think that this response is certainly how I have been programmed coming from a consumer culture. Do I really get validation by being propositioned by advertising executives in L.A.??

That is certainly something to mull over. In the meantime, I do want to share the only TV add that I have ever seen that includes an hijabi. Here is the commercial for the videogame Def Jam Rapstar. Did you catch the hijabi getting that dirt off her shoulder at about :05 seconds?

This commercial, I believe, sends one of those life-giving messages I was talking about. It explains to viewers through its montage of "rapstars" that people from all walks of life can be connected by music, and are really not that different from one another. Sure, they want a large audience to buy their videogame--I get it--but the message that they are selling about humans is one that I will buy.

Perhaps if hijabis could be included and presented in a beautiful light in the subtle messages of society, maybe some doors would be opened and some conversations started. This leads me, of course, to the topic of whether or not I would encourage other women to wear the hijab--to be on-the-ground promoters of hijabis. Could an increase in the prevalence of hijabis lead to an increased social and cultural acceptance and understanding of Islam and its practitioners? That, however, is another post for another day.

For now, I wish you wisdom in your body and peace in you mind,


1 comment:

  1. Omg! You are such a creative person!
    Instead of collecting tonnes of surveys on the society opinions on hijabis, you wear it by yourself. such a brave yet so brilliant!
    Hope you meet what you want on this project!
    good luck ! =)