I’ve noticed that many people who complain about women wearing hijabs, do it in the name of « feminism ». But the truth is, any human being trying to dictate how women should dress in public is everything but a feminist. Let alone people trying to ban women from workplaces and more, solely based on their personal choice to wear a hijab.
I personally cannot understand how a woman’s right to cover her hair and body, can cause such a debate. I mean, among other things, isn’t feminism about protecting women’s rights, ALL WOMEN ?
Anyways, the good news is: many people are able to understand that feminism shouldn’t just benefit one type of women but ALL WOMEN. In other words : no woman should be constrained to cover her whole hair and body, just the same way no woman should be constrained to unveil it.
I thought it would be interesting to have an honest conversation about the perception of the hijab, with a non-muslim woman who truly understands feminism. I decided to have this talk with Amanda. She is a smart and genuine woman i met few years ago at an event. We stayed in touch and even got to work together on one of my projects. When i contacted her for this interview, she didn’t hesitate a second and i’m delighted to share it with you today.
Photographer : Manikmati Photography
When I hear the words « female solidarity » I see women coming together, no matter their backgrounds, to fight a common cause and to love, support, and hype each other up.
Present yourself in few lines
Hi, I’m Amanda Barnard! I’m a 21 year old woman living in Montreal. I was born and raised here. I’m a university student studying journalism. And I also write a fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog called The Glam Edit.
Tell me about 3 things essential to your well-being
The three things that are most important for my well-being are definitely : Loving what I do, creating strong relationships in my life, and keeping my mental health in check.
I started my blog as a hobby and once I realized that I loved writing this much I took it upon myself to go into something that I enjoy doing everyday. One of my favourite parts about what I do is simply creating content. Having strong relationships in my life is also something that I hold dear to my heart. Having those around me for support and wanting to support others is important to me. Lastly, keeping my mental health in good state is an immensely important part of my life; especially now. What matters to me is that I am trying and doing my best each day.
What are the most important values in your life ?
The three values that I think are the most important for me are integrity, growth, and appreciation.
I feel inspired by the women I see who wear Hijabs. They are absolutely beautiful and show strength.
What do you think of the wearing of the veil by muslim women ?
I think that it’s quite a normal and beautiful thing.
How do you feel when you see a woman wearing a hijab?
I feel inspired by the women I see who wear Hijabs. They are absolutely beautiful and show strength. All of the negative connotations that usually surround this image due to societal standards or opinion just melt away because wearing one shows how resilient a woman is.
When the subject of the hijab is addressed in the media, it is very often brought back to men. Many people perceive the hijab as the result of women’s oppression by men. What is your opinion about it ?
When I was in high school I remember thinking that it was only ever one way, that it was men who simply imposed this on women and used religious reasons to bar them from ‘their freedom’. However, while this may be true in some parts of the world for some women, I was also introduced to seeing things in a new perspective. My secondary five ethics teacher who taught a large section of the course on feminism asked us to see this particular issue through the lens of a muslim woman wearing the hijab. This all changed things for me because I was able to see a whole new culture where women spoke out about wearing the hijab because they wanted to and not because a man told them they had no choice.
What do you think would make it possible to change the situation of women so that the right to dress in accordance with their values is no longer a subject for debate ?
I think destigmatizing this subject would help. Based on what I’ve heard from other muslim women, normalizing the wear of the hijab would be a good place to start. And in speaking about my previous question I think that this would also help in terms of properly seeing the action of wearing the hijab through the lens of a muslim woman. It would create this sense of normalcy. It would become something that you see women doing for themselves, which creates the effect of empowerment.
If i say : « female solidarity »; what comes to your mind ? Also, share one or two life experiences that greatly contributed to your vision.
When I hear the words « female solidarity » I see women coming together, no matter their backgrounds, to fight a common cause and to love, support, and hype each other up. This image has definitely been shaped in my head because of high school. I went to a catholic all-girls high school and the mentality there was very much feminism-based. By the end of high school all of the girls felt very united by our experiences. And despite all of the drama that we had been through and were still going through with each other at times, we were able to set it all aside, when we needed to be there for each other.
Another part of high school that was almost sacred for me, that I looked forward to every year, was the Girls for the Cure walk held by all girls school in Montreal and St Mary’s hospital. It was a true moment of gratitude that we lived every year because something so horrible, such as cancer, brought us all together in strength.
In a situation as delicate as the one we are currently experiencing (Covid-19), would you like to share an essential lesson that you have been able to learn from 2020 ?
The life lesson I would like to impart during these difficult times is to take this time to discover and love yourself and those around you. I think now more than ever being ok with being alone is something we must learn to accept and appreciate. As well as not taking those around us for granted. Covid-19 has shown me the strength and love a community can have for each other. I hope this doesn’t fade when this is all over and we all come out stronger together.