In Defense of Hoejabis, Bangjabis & Other "Slutty" Hijabis

A couple of months ago, I shared an article on my Facebook page about ‘Hijabi Hipsters’; a new generation of hijabis who fuse fashion with faith by wearing stylish hijab-friendly outfits.

“Wow, that sounds like you!” One of my friends noted. Most of the other people in the thread seemed to agree with him. His comment made me smile. Although I wouldn’t consider myself a hijabster, I was glad my friends thought I was stylish. 

yay!! me trying hard to look fancy. I love maxi skirts <3

Then, it happened.

The negative comments started pouring in.

“Umm…isn’t the point of a hijab to be modest and not attract attention to yourself?” My male atheist friend remarked.

“Yea, I have met girls who wear a hijab with tight jeans and it just doesn’t make sense. How is that even modest?” My female non-religious Hindu friend chimed in.

“You can’t wear that with a hijab. It still attracts boys. She is beautifying her face.” My male Muslim friend offered.

Soon the entire thread took a dramatic turn and went from praising hijabis for being modest yet stylish to bashing “hoe-jabis” for making a mockery off an important religious symbol by wearing “slutty” clothes in the name of modesty.

& throughout this entire encounter, I sat next to my computer screen, a cup of hot Kashmiri chai in my hand, wondering when I will finally get a chance to live without having to justify my attire to every single person I interact with on a daily basis.

no. fuck you. don’t tell me what to wear. I’ve never seen a hijabi wear something like that anyway.

Earlier this year I discovered the Youtube channel of a black Jewish girl who was mocking hijabis for wearing jeans with a headscarf. “Jewish girls are more modest than Muslim ones!” She argued, “we wear skirts!”

Across the globe, thousands of hijabis sighed in unison.

I’ve also heard many Muslim non-hijabi women remark, “Just because you wear a hijab doesn’t make you more modest. What is the point of wearing one if you have a boyfriend or you wear tight clothes?” 

This is in defense of every single girl who has gotten told her clothes are not “hijab-friendly”. This is for every single person who thinks (s)he has the right to tell hijabis what they can and can’t wear.

I became what Muslim women call a “permanent hijabi” at age 18. Before that, I had a rocky relationship with the garment I chose to wear at age 10 to school only. I was the first female in my family to start wearing it. I had no guidance whatsoever. No one told me I couldn’t wear short sleeves with a hijab, for example, so I proceeded to do just that until I got called out for it at age 14.

Since I lived alone and didn’t interact with Muslims (especially hijabis) on a daily basis, I wore all kinds of “inappropriate” clothes with my hijab: short skirts, short sleeved shirts, tight skin-hugging pants, etc.

It wasn’t until I started living with my aunt (who started wearing a hijab by then) that I finally realized the hijab was more than just a cloth you wear on your head. It was an entire lifestyle that you couldn’t just put on and off as you pleased. 

Here’s what I wish people understood about “hoe-jabis”:

  • Most of them are confused. They most likely don’t live with or around other hijabis so they have no idea what really counts as “modest” since different people have different perceptions of modesty. For example, in my school where all girls wore crop tops and booty shorts, my knee length skirt with thick black tights and loose knee high boots were really modest in comparison.
  • They might be experiencing a change of heart. Often times, hijabi girls stop covering their hair for a multitude of reasons. Usually the transition starts with them wearing more “inappropriate” clothes. Once you start wearing the hijab, it’s hard to take it off. It literally makes you feel like you’re walking around naked. That’s why many hijabis use that as a stepping stone so when they are ready to finally take it off, they feel more comfortable doing it.
  • They might be wearing a hijab for reasons other than modesty. It is not uncommon at all to meet a Muslim girl who wears a hijab to make a political statement. I’ve also met cancer patients who wear headscarves once they start losing their hair due to chemotherapy.
  • They are tired of your shit. Seriously. Think about how hard it is to be a hijabi. You take shit from Islamophobes who are more likely to attack you than any other group of Muslims, from white feminists who keep telling you that you’re oppressing your own self for choosing to dress a certain way, from people of other religious groups who judge you on your “fake” modesty, from pervs who fetishize you, from misogynistic Muslims who try to police your behavior and choice of attire, & from other hijabis who judge you on your style…They don’t need you and your bullshit opinions. So please, for the love of pizza, shut the hell up.
  • They are humans too and are thus not exempt from making mistakes. Seriously. Hijab-malfunctions exist. Sometimes the way you step out of your house is not the way you end up looking like halfway through the day.

So please, spare me that BS about hoe-jabis, bang-jabis and “slutty” hijabis. Most of the “slutty” hijabis I met were just girls who got exploited by men who fetishized them (teh M0zlem wimmin r forbiddun fr00t!”). It’s disgusting that you would even use those gendered slurs to refer to them (or any other woman for that matter).

If you are a hijabi who is really interested in helping a girl out, guide her towards fashion bloggers like Amenakin, saimasmileslike and nabiilabee who manage to wear 100% Sharia-approved clothes and still look bitchin’…or towards actual Muslim sources written by scholars explaining what a hijab is and what the rules are for wearing one.

for all my fellow hijabis <3

& remember, folks, if you yourself are not a hijabi, please take a seat and shut the fuck up. 

Hijabis do not exist for you to mock, criticize or fetishize. We are not “forbidden fruit” or hypersexual oriental beauties who are ladies on the street but freaks between the sheets. We sure as hell aren’t repressed creatures who need orientalist men to come and “save” us by sexually exploiting us. 

Remember this, and kindly fuck off.

I went to school with @hodasal so I was flattered she asked me to help hijabify her for her wedding. She chose beautiful grey tones for her dress and for her hijab she wanted a look where her forehead would be covered. The best thing for that is to wear a cap that is lowered, but for your wedding you want to keep it classy so I suggested a skull cap made of lace. Her talented mum and Aunty sewed her dress and made the cap out of lace from the dress and the result was perfection MashAllah

These days I’ve been recommending veils made of a silk chiffon or any similar semi transparent fabric instead of a tulle veil. If your wedding dress isn’t not very traditional, why should your veil be? Keeping it long adds elegance and height.

Photography: Timmy Smalls