The history of Muslim women covering their bodies can find origins in the Qur-an, which can be seen in the following verses from the Qur-an:
And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their khimār over their breasts and not display their beauty except to their husband, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. (Quran 24:31)
When one considers societies that require women to cover themselves by law, the hijab is considered oppressive of women, and there are groups around the world that are trying to change the way women are viewed in these societies.
When a garment of clothing is so often associated with oppression, those that freely choose to wear the hijab as a personal choice or as a part of their traditional culture are too considered somewhat oppressed and perhaps even fearful. This, however, is not always the case.
Hijabs have been inserted into the pop-culture and fashion industry in both eastern and western cultures, even making appearances in pop icon’s music videos and every-day wear. When this dissociation of the garment with traditional culture or oppressive behavior and re-association as a garment that the wearer can be viewed as fashionable or well-to-do occurs, the garment becomes less of a symbol of women’s inequality and instead becomes a symbol of women’s rights and women’s choice to wear the garment freely.
If a garment such as this saturates the fashion industry, those cultures which use the garment as a symbol of oppression are forced to reevaluate the traditional use of the garment.
Much like Native American garments and headdresses have become disassociated with being savage or uncivilized, their saturation in fashion has transformed the garments into symbols of the wearer’s closeness to nature and freedom.
While some may believe the use of traditional cultural garments in fashion may be inappropriate and culturally insensitive, fashion and pop culture can also be harnessed as powerful tools in changing how the world will view something as simple as a piece of cloth.