Women are not just one standard only. We can be “tom-boys” and “girly-girls” at the same time. We can wear an abaya for one month in Ramadan and quit music if we feel like it because we are not only “religious” or “irreligious”. We are more than a stereotype. We are more than a label.
The goal of this shoot that we did with Selma was to highlight the fact that girls can be both “sporty” and “delicate” at the same time. Selma’s style is very edgy and bold. She brought the soccer ball, we brought the flower crown, and it was a great clash. We fell in love with how everything came out!
We also loved the how the snow was out of the norm in a shot like this. Of course, while we were taking the pictures, it was beyond cold and we were freezing! But most certainly worth the shots.
In addition to this photo series, we’ve put together a mini interview series. We had a quick conversation with a few women who we feel highlight just how much you can never know about someone just by viewing them from the outside. Without having a conversation with them (and anyone else), it is very easy to make assumptions and to label.
My name is Sima Awaida, I live in Dallas, TX but I am originally Palestinian from Al Mazraa Sharqeeya.
I graduated high school top of my class and went on to major in Interior Design under the school of Architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington . It was a grueling program that was completely underestimated by my peers . I had friends going into pre-med, business, law, you name it and they always kind of scoffed when I said my major was Interior Design.
It wasn’t until they watched me go through the program, constantly absent from social events and outings and pulling multiple all nighters when they started to take me and my career choice seriously . I graduated Summa Cum Laude and dove right into the workforce. I was passionate about my career and found a lot of self confidence in what I did . Working in commercial interiors , I was the only hijabi far and wide. It was a small community of professionals and everyone knew everyone , but they especially knew me . I stuck out like a sore thumb and I LOVED IT!
Eventually I hit a crossroad- I was pregnant. I went through my pregnancy with the intention of continuing my career, but the moment I looked into my baby boy’s eyes, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I found myself struggling to balance the two things I loved most , my career and my son. I decided it was right for me to take some time for my family but deep down I wasn’t completely happy. I decided to find a new outlet to express my design self and to hopefully launch a design blog that could grow into my own design company . So here it is , simavvad.com , a creative outlet for me to share my passion and build a dream I have for myself.
I think being a woman automatically sets you back as a professional and being a Middle Eastern woman sets you back even more . Cultural norms put women in the home and that was a stereotype that I couldn’t deal with . Even when I initially met my husband in architecture school he used to joke with me and say ” you’re just going to get married and drop out of school”. I clearly proved him wrong and ended up the marrying the guy because he realized I was pretty awesome. Comments like this fueled me to work harder to not fall into the stereotype.
I was married for 4 years before I had my son . I wanted to spend some time being selfish in my career and no one around me understood (of course not including my parents who were an amazing support system for me ). It was a constant battle fighting to do what I loved.
When I had my son and made the decision to stay home, it was a struggle because I felt like I was giving up on what I believed in. In all reality that’s not what it was, I was just adding on another job title.
Now that I’ve been home for 10 months with my son, the idea of going back to work has started to pop up in my head which was one of the reasons why I started my design blog. Never let what people think of you put you down , always use it as fuel to push you further to follow your goals!
My name is Sarah Al Ramahi, 27 years old. I’m a Palestinian American, born in California (totally my favorite state..if you couldn’t tell from my Instagram ) living in Texas but spend all my summers in Jordan.
I began my blog to show the different styles and ways hijab could be worn, while staying in a tight budget. (I am such a bargain finder!) I understand that not everyone can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on just a few pieces, so clearance racks is always my go to! #Noshame #Stilllookgood #MoremoneyMoreclothes
Honestly, I’ve gotten plenty of messages from girls who look up to me, which is great to a certain extent. It’s a great feeling until it’s for the wrong reasons. No, I do not have a perfect life. I actually wrote a long post about this exact issue on my Instagram; you can read more about it if you scroll it to November 8th, 2017. Elhamdulila, I wouldn’t complain about my life, I am extremely blessed but it is far from perfect. God created and put us on this earth so he can test us, meaning there isn’t a single soul with a perfect life, even though social media may portray the exact opposite.
I’ve grown up in a pretty open family (with a lot of begging) and society, but I know traveling is a really tough situation for some. I feel like it’s more of a “what if something happens” or a “you can’t protect yourself” type of idea that might hold parents or husbands from letting their daughters or wives travel alone or with friends. My parents were and probably are still against it, but I’ve learned that with a little bit of convincing and maybe a tear here and there, they usually give in. LOL. I’ve been able to win a few trips using that technique.
I don’t think people expected girls and women to ever have a voice, but as the world is changing and evolving women have become stronger and more opinionated yet some are still not accepting of this.
I went through two years of depression but nobody would know when, even though I was still blogging throughout! I was able to get through it with the help of God. He is always there.
2:152 “So remember Me; I will remember you…”
2:186 “(O Mohammad), when My servants ask you about Me, tell them I am quite near; I hear and answer the call of the caller whenever he calls Me.”
My depression brought me a lot closer to my deen, making me see a clearer vision of why things happen the way they do and thanking God for all the good and bad that has happened.
“My name is Noura Abdi I’m from Syria and was born in Austin, Texas.
My sister inspired me to blog. She has such a great sense in fashion and that is what encouraged me to start my own. I love dressing up & making my looks modest as possible and giving people fashion ideas that I have created. I believe that wearing hijab shouldn’t prevent you from dressing up and looking good.
Sometimes, back in Syria they believe that a woman’s primary purpose is to take care of children and be a housewife or prioritize marriage before education or a job. However, my goal is to build a successful business of my own.
Unfortunately, the world we live in has inherently been pit against women since the beginning of time. Men have asserted their dominance and we as women have to stand together and united to combat this. As long as we have each other, no labels, scrutiny, or judgement can bring us down.
Some people think that being modest and a blogger are mutually exclusive but I believe you can do both while still maintaining your Deen and also expressing yourself through fashion. It’s unconventional for many people and breaks many stereotypes”
“My name is Bouchra Tahiri & I’m from Morocco but living in Ukraine. In 2014, I created my Instagram account and since then, I’ve always loved modeling. I started doing photo shoots in 2015.
In our Moroccan-Islamic culture, women must respect their dress or they will be attacked, which is not good because we are free women and responsible for our choices.
For example, for me, it’s been a week since I removed my hijab and I face a lot of criticism but I tell myself that I am a free and respectful woman so I do what I like.
God strengthened and honored women. Us women must speak up and express what we feel. We should never let men control us or judge us.”
“My name is Azalia but I mostly go by Lia (pronounced “Leah”) and I live in the Chicago area. I have actually had my account for a while and have been using it aimlessly and purposelessly, posting whatever my heart desires whether it fits a “theme” or not. However, I recently started shifting my posts to a more outfit-focused since I have only stumbled upon a few modest fashion blogs that pertain to me and my personal style. So I thought, “why not add myself into the pot?”
We have a fairly stable view of ourselves and how we think people view us, but we don’t really know until we put ourselves in their perspective. My only hope is that people see me in a positive light and that I am more than just my headscarf.
I don’t think I reveal too much of myself on my account. Sometimes I find it hypocritical of me for wanting to steer my account into the fashion realm when in reality, I am living in my sweatpants and scrubs most of the time. I’m a nursing student.
I work as a nursing assistant at a senior home in which residents tend to be more conservative and critical of others who look different. They often ask me why I cover my hair and after I informed them that I’m Muslim, their tone of voice changes and suddenly they’re not the sweet grandparents that I thought they were.
Some cultural norms in our culture -the fact that a woman’s spiritual level and worth is measured by how she is dressed. For example, one strand of my hair would be peeking through my hijab and everyone goes bat-crazy and completely dismiss myself as a practicing Muslim woman. “
“My name is Laylaa khès (khès pronounced like keys) I was born and raised in Canada. My mother is Bosnian and my father is half Italian, half Libyan.
I’d say girls get looked down upon for not wearing scarf or for talking to guys. It’s complete madness. Cultures shouldn’t be pushed down the throats of others- even if you’re born into that background.
One thing my followers don’t know about me is I have been struggling with heart problems for the past 4 years. It isn’t obviously something I love to share with everyone, because I don’t want pity of others or people “taking it easy” on me. I want to be treated just like everyone else. Having heart problems hasn’t really affected my day to day- I try to stay as healthy as possible, to run, eat, travel, stay healthy in every aspect mentally and physically!
I’d like to encourage my followers to share one thing nobody knows about them- it would be amazing to be able to read their stories and to sort of connect in a space where nobody is judge one another and instead showing positivity and support.”