Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Inspiration: Hana Tajima Simpson


Since reverting to Islam, I initially had a hard time reconciling my old style with the precepts of hijab. Hijab not only refers to the traditional head-covering, but the prevailing aspect of dressing in a way that adheres to the Qu'ran and words of Allah (swt), where a woman covers herself in a respectable manner. Upon learning the reasons behind this concept, (which admittedly, before becoming Muslim I perceived as a little oppressive) I saw the true beauty in it, and have come to wholeheartedly embrace this important tenet of Islam. It's so simple yet so profound, the fact that a woman is so treasured, akin to a precious jewel, that her beauty need not be leered at or made into spectacle for anyone and everyone to see. To put it plainly, a woman's goodies should only be appreciated by her husband, which isn't a bad idea given the "less (clothes) is more" mindset most women today seem to succumb to, and to me, seems to have alot to do with the disrespectful ways in which men often treat women.

So I gladly did away with my former, sometimes tarty clothes and adopted something much more modest. My problem was, oddly enough, that I didn't know how to exactly go about covering myself completely while still managing to stay stylish. As a writer living in NYC, and working in the fashion industry, I absolutely adore clothes that are unconventionally chic and modern. However, I was hard-pressed to find other sisters who shared my enthusiasm for contemporary fashion, since most of them wore culturally traditional garb, i.e. shapeless, cloak-like sheaths, and blindingly ornate scarves. Aside from that, there were those who just didn't participate in fashion whatsoever, and wore whatever would cover them, whether it looked good or not. This was a discouraging scene, since I wanted to be a good Muslim but still be au courant.

So, alhamdulilah, I finally came across a cleverly titled blog called Style Covered. Created by Japanese-English Brit, Hana Tajima Simpson, she's not your typical muslimah. The young designer, photographer and magazine editor is inspiring in that she is maintains her sense of style and is a fan of non-mainstream, progressive, individualistic fashion. Her cool, understated sensibility is exemplified in her clothing line, Maysaa, which consists of sensible trousers, tops, hand-made hijabs and maxi skirts and dresses. Because of her I have gained a greater perspective on how to cover up and still embrace what I love. It's also become an adventure in itself--it takes some creativity in making sure that I am adhering to my religion while coming up with something personal and eclectic. And what surprised me the most is that in my whole 27 years, amid the short skirts, plunging necklines, and skin-tight jeans , it is at this point in my life that I have felt the most beautiful and feminine...covered.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

True Beauty: Persia White


Lynn had always been my favorite. The underachieving, over-educated, sex-loving, tattooed vegan was a free-spirited relief amid a cast of slightly wound up black women on the show “Girlfriends”(R.I.P). Lynn portrayed a different kind of black woman, one who cared about human rights and political issues, and at the same time didn't care about what anyone else thought, especially when it came to her adventurous lifestyle. Ironically, the character of Lynn Searcy was a mirror of actress Persia White's real life, in most aspects. Her involvement in advocacy, environmentalism, and the subversive music scene often played into the show's story lines and showed audiences that black women aren't just materialistic, marriage-obsessed, and hot-headed.