A clothing brand named Hoodies has released an advertisement depicting a model, Bar Refaeli, clad in a black niqab shortly before removing it and dancing for joy while a voiceover declares that “Freedom is basic”.
I have to give it to the brand. A lovely, short, meaningful video.
The video is typical of attitudes towards Hijab and Niqab-wearing women around the world. It seems those pesky orientalists of the past have a knack for shape-shifting into some other individual too myopic to read a couple of short articles written by Muslim women, so as to understand the issue that’s just causing them so much grief.
Well, I thought I’d just simplify it for you. You shouldn’t need glasses for this one.
Once again some people find themselves caught between two posts. One in which the basic fundamental rights of a woman to choose how she dresses herself is juxtaposed against the idea long held by many orientalists that if a woman chooses to dress more modestly or cover her head, this can only be because she was forced to by a male member of her family or by the “patriarchy”.
Freedom to choose how one wants to dress is basic indeed. But that freedom encompasses all attire. There are no caveats to that.
Are you to judge and disregard a woman’s dress simply because it conflicts with your cultural standard? Maybe you just feel fortunate to be in a time when European fashion has dominated pretty much every corner of the world, every landscape, and every girl’s bedroom. So now, because my skirt doesn’t rise right up, suddenly it means I must not have got the message: I’m oppressed!
It’s also highly ironic that the supermodel declares “Freedom is Basic” when the advertisers feel the need to strip her of her clothes to sell the brand. I just love the logic:
“Strip off! And I’ll grant you the rights stripped from you!”
Well done though Hoodies for coming to your senses and releasing a more “diverse” video. You deserve a pat on the back after being called out on your bigotry. You should be applauded for your willingness to reform your content to avoid losing business. I am proud.
I thought all hope was lost for a moment there.
Anne-Marie Ionescu is a junior doctor, a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Organisation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (Lajna Imai’illah), and a content producer for Rational Religion.