By Erin Smith

On April 21, 2011, I donned hijab (the headscarf worn by many Muslim women) as a participant in International Scarves in Solidarity Day, an event organized both in response to legislation banning various forms of Islamic clothing, as well as in support of women’s right to dress as they deem appropriate, whatever their faith or philosophy. These are a few reflections on a unique and eye-opening experience.

Recently, I made an observation. I had just stumbled across some of the hijabi fashion blogs on the internet, and was feeling a curious mix of admiration and jealousy. In the photos and articles, I saw some of the most outstandingly beautiful women ever–not “beautiful” in the fake, ostentatious way we usually see on TV and in magazines, but because of their unique air of intelligence, respectability and femininity. Of course, this impression did not come just from reading a few blogs, but from my relationships with my Muslim friends, who have yet to strike me as anything less than all-around awesome. And this realization was really nothing special, but it had never struck me quite in the way it did that night, nor had it ever caused me to think as critically about my own reality. [Read more…]