There was a lot of hubbub surrounding Dubai Modest Fashion Week when it was held a few months ago.
I can’t really comment much about it, because I wasn’t there. I heard about it by chance a few days before the event.
I thought, maybe I’ll do an article and feature some photos, but I gave up, because I have too much going on, and as much as I try to convince myself otherwise, I’m not all that into runway shows that copy the mainstream narrative. While it is fun to get together with friends and see some great clothes and styles, there is something about it that doesn’t always sit well with me.
That’s my personal opinion, and isn’t a reflection on this particular event, because as I said, I wasn’t there.
But, back to the topic at hand. After Dubai Modest Fashion Week, there was a lot of talk about women of color and women of varying body types not having much of a role on the runways.
My thoughts are as follows:
This shouldn’t surprise anyone, because modest fashion (sadly) is following the entire setup that was put in place by white privilege and in particular white men. If you look at mainstream fashion shows, they are struggling to stay relevant and have been called out many times for their lack of diversity.
I alluded to this problem when modest fashion was picking up a few years ago in an article for Boing Boing: You can read it here.
I will repeat what I keep saying. The hijab fashion scene is supposed to create a brand new way for women to be included in all shapes, sizes and colors. We should be there to set the trend and the standard, and unfortunately we are falling short of it.
We have to resist the urge for validation from a mainstream model that exploits women and erases women of color completely.
The one thing I will not do is blame the organizers for putting on the show, because they didn’t do anything on purpose or with ill intent.
I think the problem that we need to explore, is that we have all been affected by colonialist attitudes all over the world. And when we think we’re doing something out of our own ideas, often times, it’s through the lens of white privilege.
For example, when putting on a high-end fashion show, no one thinks twice about the models they’re using, because it looks just like the “professional” mainstream shows. It’s hard to think deep and critically when your mind, in essence, has been co-opted by the images and ideas put out to make us think a certain way.
What needs to happen, in my opinion, is that we reflect on things and try to figure out how to be better and more inclusive of all women regardless of shape or size or color.
It’s all of our jobs to make sure we don’t fall prey to the mentality that is misogynistic, racist, sexist, etc.
We need to support one another and bring back the sisterhood, values and modesty that this whole idea of the hijab fashion industry was initially built on.
And when we do that, we will see a shift from copying what is being put out by the mainstream, to pushing forward our own genuine and unique point of view.