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Hijab Fashion Makes a Statement and Brings a Perspective

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Jasmine Millner / ASP
Aleyna Nur Sarap coordinates a hijab with her outfit.

The hijab has begun to make a larger appearance in mainstream fashion and media over the past few years. For instance, Nike recently released a hijab sport’s line, H&M used a model wearing a hijab in a recent campaign and Rihanna included a woman wearing a hijab in her new advertisement for Fenty Beauty. While the hijab has strong meaning behind it, it is also used as a fashion statement by many, including UAlbany Junior, Aleyna Nur Sarap.

“I have a hijab that matches every outfit,” said Sarap. “It’s like dying my hair everyday.”

Before moving to the United States, Sarap lived in Istanbul where the clothes you wore, no matter the time of day or excursion, truly mattered.

“In Istanbul, it is very important what you wear outside,” said Sarap. “You have to look nice. You have to have your makeup done. You have to wear nice clothing. You can’t wear pajamas outside; it’s absolutely unacceptable.”

Each day, Sarap makes sure to look as fashionable as possible, which of course includes a matching hijab. When she first moved to the United States, she noticed that a lot of people in her town didn’t know what the hijab was. Sarap said that while fellow classmates used to make negative comments about her hijab when she was younger, she has noticed that the number of comments has significantly decreased over the years.

“I feel like it has gotten better because of the amount of attention that we have been getting in the media and with this wave of modest fashion that’s been happening. It makes us happy to be included.”

While negative comments may not be directly made, she has noticed the uncomfortable stares given to her at times.

“You see something different and you look at it. If you live in a Muslim country, you don’t look at every single Hijabi you see. You’re so used to them being there, but here it’s not something you see everyday,” she said.

Fatimah Ikram, a Junior at the University at Albany, has had a similar experience.
“It’s not so much saying things as it is the feeling or the looks,” said Ikram. “Sometimes people are looking because they’re curious or it’s something new that they’ve never seen before, but other times you get a vibe where they’re looking you up and down and wondering why you’re here.”

Ikram said that while the political climate has shifted after the recent election, she feels that it’s all about perspective.

“I personally think that any time there’s a far-right or a really strong opposing view to being open to people against a certain group, all of this other energy gets put into helping that group, like what we saw at the airport with the Muslim bans and how many people came out to support,” said Ikram. “I think [President Trump] has definitely given people a platform and an ok to say that you can have these views and you’ll be fine because I have them, but I also think that he’s pushed people that were kind of neutral and forced them into helping Muslims or other oppressed groups.”

Ikram notes that in terms of oppression, Islam was the first religion to give women the right to own land and also explains that she can choose whether or not she wants to wear the hijab.

“If I decide that I don’t want to wear this anymore, I can take it off and I’m not going to get punished because it’s my own journey,” said Ikram. “The whole idea behind wearing it is that it’s from your heart, so if I’m wearing it for someone else, then I should just take it off.”

Despite the current political and social climate, Ikram has a positive outlook on her own life, as well as the world around her.

“It’s what you focus on,” said Ikram. “I could focus on all of the negative things and all of the instances where people look at me or read about things happening to people, but I also see all of the support that has come out of it. It’s how you view it.”

Class of '18: Jasmine Millner is a journalism major at the University at Albany. She also works for campus recreation as a program assistant and zumba instructor. When she’s not writing for the ASP, she’s on the e-board for Stilettos Dance Team, a member of Phenomenal Voices, and produces a show on Albany Student Television, Girl Talk.

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