Modern Veils Reflect Rebellious Spirit

By donning fashionable headscarves, many girls are rebelling against tradition.

Modern Veils Reflect Rebellious Spirit

By donning fashionable headscarves, many girls are rebelling against tradition.

Tuesday, 15 February, 2011

When Wafaa, 21, emerges from her bedroom, she wears a scarf neatly wrapped around her head, the result of ten minutes of careful arrangement.

But the look of dissatisfaction from her mother, a conservative woman who does not approve of her daughter leaving the house with her neck uncovered, is enough to send her back to her room for a few more minutes. Finally, Wafaa finds a way to wear her headscarf in a way that pleases both her and her mother.

More and more girls and young women like Wafaa, mostly in their teens and early twenties, are adopting fashionable, creative ways to wear their headscarves in and around Tyre.

Social observers say the trend is an attempt by young women living in a conservative milieu to reconcile religious commitment and social obligations with the desire to look modern and attractive.

Girls try to express their individuality by wearing their headscarf in a more stylish way, said Wafaa Kassir, a social worker.

“There are many temptations around them… At their age, they are easily influenced by fashion, they want to gain popularity and feel special among their friends,” she said.

Many girls say that they choose the style of their headscarf depending on what they are wearing or what suits their face, but on closer questioning reveal that they also want to look youthful and stylish.

The trendy headscarves come in bright colours and different shapes. Each has earned a nickname, like the Spanish model, where the neck remains uncovered, and the Khaliji (inspired by women from the Persian Gulf), where the veil is wrapped several times around the head.

For some, wearing an attractive headscarf is against the teachings of Islam. Religious leader Sheikh Mustafa Fneish said that “modern” scarfs are unIslamic, insisting they “should hide all the details of a woman’s body and hair”.

Omayma Mansour, a student at a religious college who has carried out a study on headscarves, said many of girls who are uncertain about wearing the veil either take it off when they get the chance or wear it in a way that makes it more attractive.

“I don’t like my headscarf,” said Malak, a young woman who was forced by her father to wear one. She said she opts for the more fashionable types as “a compensation” for the freedom her father took from her.

Malak’s mother, on the other hand, said that she believed in modernity and approved of her daughter wearing a stylish veil, arguing that religious rules have become more lax nowadays.

“She is young and should enjoy her youth,” she said. 

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