Friday, December 31, 2010

Hijabi Discussions

The other day I was being interviewed by Richard Peres, who is an academician, and a writer. He is currently writing a new book about the hijab ban. I will give you more details later when it's available.

As I sat there talking to him, hearing myself reminded me that I've delayed this post and wanted to do it for the longest time.

I was telling Mr. Peres about my experiences as a hijabi in the US. Except for my junior high years and a short period during high school, I really didn't experience anything negative as a hijabi living in the US.

On the contrary, everytime I went out, I got compliments.

Several times I was stopped in the street or at the mall by women who asked, "where did you get your outfit?" Or, "Is this religious attire or is it a fashion statement?"

And everytime, I would answer, "It's BOTH!"

Other times, during cold winter weather, people would say "you look warm!". To which I would reply "Oh yes, I am." Sometimes if I had more time, and more questions were asked I'd go into the details.

When I wear my cap and comfijab combination in the summer, or when I'm working out, people often comment:

"You look like you're a race car driver!"
or "You look like you're ready to go on a safari!"

I like both of these comments. Because they are compliments.

Ofcourse living in the heat of TEXAS you always get the regular comment "Aren't you hot in that?" To which I reply "Well, it's TEXAS, no matter what you wear you're going to feel hot. My scarf is silk, it actually keeps me cooler because it provides a natural shade".

I rarely get strange looks, or looks where the other person is trying to figure out what the heck I'm wearing.

In New York, I actually also get the are-you-a-celebrity-in-disguise, kind of looks. LOL. (I go jogging at Central Park where many celebrities work out. Wearing a cap, comfijab and sunglasses does a disguise trick on people :-)

As a matter of fact, I do feel like a celebrity everytime I go out. Remember Fashion's Night Out (CLICK). Being the only hijabi at events definitely has its advantages as well. First of all, you always stand out! Imagine hundreds of people in the same room, you are the only one that looks different! I know this can be intimidating to some people who don't dare to be different. But if you're dressed nice and you look good, you should have the confidence and just enjoy it.

Here is an example: the other night my husband and I were invited to a private event on the Upper East side. It was one of the hotest places in town. I wore one of my KAVAKCI COUTURE designs. I looked very elegant (if I do say so myself ;-). All the high society Manhattinites were at this reception. The crowd was pretty diverse. There were well-known doctors, some famous singers, a few people from politics, and several other rich and famous people.

I walked in with my head up high, loving my unique look. Heads turned as we entered the room. We spoke to a few people we knew, and everytime I was introduced to someone, I got a compliment on my outfit.

"Wow, I love your dress!" or "What a beautiful hat!"

I smiled proudly and thanked the people who complimented me. I was proud on behalf of my hijab. The compliments weren't for my face, eyes or clothes specifically, the compliments came because of my hijab!

When I attend conferences or events somehow because I try to juggle a crazy schedule I walk in late. However, I always notice the heads turning. Even if I sit in the back of the room, after the event is over, I always have someone come up to me to compliment me on my style. And it's almost always the same exact conversation.

Introductions, and then "I love what you're wearing!"

"Oh thank you, I'm a designer."

"That explains it, as soon as I saw you walk-in I thought wow, she looks so stylish!"

Another time I was on my way to a lecture, trying to find the building I was supposed to be in, and went into one of the buildings to ask the front desk security lady where the room was located.

She pointed me to the room, and with jet speed I started heading that way. Only to hear her call out, "Oh Miss, Miss! I really like your bracelets (remember the FOREVER 21 bangles). Where did you get them?"

By then I have to turn around and tell the lady which store, which location, how much etc. But I don't mind. Because that's how the conversation starts and it leads up to "Oh so why do you wear that?" and I think "Bingo!"

I also got a compliment at the airport security one time. After I walked through the security the female police officer said "I like what you're wearing, what is that?" So I told her the usual story about being a designer who designs modest clothes.

And she said "Oh wow, I like modest clothes, I gotta get me some of those. Do you have a card?". And so I gave her my card.

I think that's enough hijabi discussions for you ladies. Hope I didn't bore ya!

What are your hijabi celebrity stories?

Elif Kavakci for HijabiTopia


  1. I don't have any real hijabi celebrity stories but have something kind of the similar to your second-glance-mistaken-celebrity-in-disguise looks. I am originally from Vancouver BC Canada (Now living in Dallas as of 3.5 yrs), where a lot of movies are filmed and celebrities are a constant part of life up there. SO being a Hijabi and mostly on summer days you would get those second glances..It's kinda fun!

    I love reading this blog!!

  2. Thanks Fatima! We love having you :-)