Melanie: Tell me about yourself, how old are you? Where are you from? Where do you live? What are you studying?
Farah: I'm 22, Arab American with Lebanese decent and I currently live in Dearborn, Michigan where I grew up. When I first started college at Wayne State University in Detroit, I majored in Psychology and applied to nursing school and now I'm in my second year of nursing school at the University of Detroit Mercy.
M: I went to Wayne State too ;) How do you like it?
F: At first when I started my program I hated it and I was considering switching majors but I'm glad I didn't because I've grown to love it and I wouldn't want to be doing anything other than Nursing! Alhamdillah!
M: What specifically do you like about it?
F: I love the fact that I'm capable of helping people and proactively working towards the greater good of mankind.
M: Hamdulilah, that's awesome - it's so important to love what you do! So, when did you put on hijab?
F: To be exact I put on hijab two months before I turned 9.
M: What was it like for you wearing hijab at such a young age?
F: Growing up my whole life my parents always taught us that religiously we are required to wear hijab to fulfill part of our religion. I never felt obligated to wear it because my parents didn't pressure me, but I felt satisfaction doing it because I was pleasing Allah. As a young child you feel a greater sense of spirituality because you're more innocent.
M: So if you weren't nine, say you were 15 or 21, would wearing the hijab have been the same experience? Easier? More difficult?
F: Personally I think that it only gets harder as you get older. I don't think it would have been the same experience and definitely more difficult, it's harder to adapt to hijab when you're older because you've already experienced a life without it and trying to re-adjust to a life with it is what makes it so hard!
M: Agreed. I wore hijab full-time as a ninth grader at age 13 and I don't know if I would've had the will power to put it on in say, college.
F: Even at age 15, a lot of the people around me weren't wearing hijab, if I didn't have one on already I probably wouldn't have wanted to put one on!
M: One thing that's been on my mind a lot lately is this idea or concept of taking ownership of your hijab. For me, I have to admit that hijab was expected of me and it was something I knew I had to do. I wore hijab, but at age 13 I don't know that I had the requisite understanding of what it really meant. It wasn't until college that I felt the light and blessing of hijab and there was a point when I was no longer wearing hijab because it was expected of me - I was wearing it for Allah (S) and for myself. I took ownership of my hijab. Did you have a similar experience considering the young age at which you started wearing it?
F: I don't think there will ever be a perfect time to wear a hijab, you can't keep waiting until you're ready, it's just something you decide to do and become accustomed to. Religion is a means to discipline your soul and devote yourself to Allah SWT. At times you may feel uncomfortable sticking out from the crowd because hijab is not the social norm but knowing that I'm doing my duty and devoting myself to my Creator is fulfilling in and of itself.
Farah in the Twilight Garden Wrap
M: Tell me what it's like growing up in Dearborn in regards to hijab. Is hijab the norm for most Dearborn Muslims?
F: Living in Dearborn makes it easier because everyone understands it, but it's not a social norm. The only reason you see a large population of hijabis in the city is because there's a big population of Muslims. You don't feel alone when you decide to wear a Hijab here because you know you're surrounded by so many girls wearing it too, as opposed to living in a city where you are the only one wearing it, which would be harder.
M:Do most of the people you grew up with wear hijab? The reason I ask is because when I was growing up just outside of Dearborn in metro Detroit, almost all my Muslim friends wore hijab - it was definitely the norm. If one of us didn't wear hijab - it was like, "when are you putting on hijab?" With today's youth, I don't know that that's the case anymore.
F: Growing up, yes most of my close friends did wear hijab but it wasn't weird if you didn't wear one. Overall more girls used to wear hijab during my pre-teen years but now I feel like girls don't care for it like they used to.
M: Why do you think that is?
F: I feel like people are becoming more absorbed in the culture and society we live in today. They are focusing on how appealing they look to others rather than thinking about the hereafter. As time progresses people are regressing religiously. They are molding their way of thinking and not considering religion and only considering society and culture.
M: Do you think we as hijabi's sometimes fall into that trap as well?
F: Yes, of course we do we're only human and we are all fallible. I feel like there's a double standard comparing a hijabi with a non-hijabi. On both ends people are being hurt and misjudged, people are so quick to judge a hijabi if she's wearing jeans that are too tight, but why is it okay for a Muslim girl who doesn't wear hijab to wear a mini skirt? On the other end people are so quick to oversee a good muslim girl who hasn't devoted herself to the hijab yet but fulfills all her other duties as a Muslim. Hijabis are looked at like a perfectly painted portrait of a religious woman and I find this really unfair. All Muslims need to work on themselves regardless of whether they're hijabis or not.
M: Well said! What do you think we as hijabis can do to help from falling into the trap of society's focus on the superficial - beauty, weight, clothing, etc. Like you said, we too are fallible and sometimes I'm frightened by the images I see of hijabis - particularly those who are putting themselves out there like bloggers, instagrammers, etc.
Farah: Social media is a double edged sword and we need to be careful of the things we choose to share with the public. As a hijabi, you need to define what modesty is and abide by those rules. At the same time modesty is defined differently from one person to the other. Some Muslims may look at my pictures and be frightened by the images I post because they don't agree that wearing jeans is modest so it really just all goes back to the way you define modesty and portray it yourself!
M: Do you think there should be one universal definition of what modesty entails for Muslim women?
F: I think it would be easier if it was set in stone and we had one universal definition of modesty. Unfortunately it's not like that and I'm still trying to define what modesty really is for my own self!
M: Ok, so how do you define modesty for yourself?
F: I define modesty by trying my best to cover the shape of my body, I have certain guidelines that I go by for example my tops need to be at least long enough to cover my behind, my hair needs to be fully covered, as well as covering my arms up to my wrists. I don't think leggings are permissible either, you need to be wearing pants and even then, your pants/jeans shouldn't be skin tight either. Although I have certain guidelines that I try to abide by I still struggle with my own definition of modesty - I know my jeans might be too tight sometimes or my shirts might not be long enough, but I have my mom to nag me about that hahaha!
M: :D You have 20K followers on Instagram! How did that come to be?
F: Everyone always asks me that question! It's just something that happened out of the blue! One day I posted a picture of my outfit of the day that I wore to a wedding and I randomly wrote out #hijabfashion in one of my tags, I ended up on their IG page and after that day a lot of girls started following me and asking me for hijab and modest outfit advice and my hijabi audience started growing from there!
M: That's awesome! Was it something you welcomed or something you were apprehensive about?
F: I thought it was pretty cool that other girls were THAT inspired by the way I dress. I've always been into fashion and I really loved that other girls were so into my taste in fashion!
M: Mashallah you've got great fashion sense!
F:Thank you Mel! It means so much coming from such an inspiration like yourself!I didn't think I would become so admired for sharing my fashion! It's nice to know that people view me as a strong modern day muhajaba that's dedicated to staying true to who I am and what I represent.
M: How would you describe your style?
F: I try to be as clean cut as possible with a little edge. I like wearing colors that compliment one another rather than always matching because I like to have a little fun with the way I dress. I love to pull off looks that are outside of my character for instance bohemian chic, but I usually stick to being more of a contemporary dresser!
M: Agreed on the complimenting colors rather than matching - although I'm excited to get my hands wet with the monochrome trend this Fall! What's your go-to outfit of choice?
F: I love the monochrome trend! It's definitely something that I'm into as well! My go-to outfits for Fall would be a basic long cardigan with a pair of colored trousers and my riding boots topped with my gorgeous Haute Hijab of course!
M: ;) Tell us a little about the Haute Hijab wraps - what do you love about them?
F: I love the variety of patterns and colors that HH wraps come in! They're very light and easy to wear especially during the summer when it gets too hot! My favorite thing about the wraps is how I can dress them up or dress them down! You can wear them to any occasion from weddings to school!
M: You work them so well! My favorite outfit you put together was with the Afternoon Tea wrap - what's your favorite?
F: That's actually my favorite wrap! I love the different colors incorporated into it! It's so classy and chic.
Farah in the Afternoon Tea Wrap
M: Ok - what's your all-time favorite, holy grail hijab?
F: I love comfort and convenience so my all-time favorite would be my black and white polka dot hijab because I can wear it with anything!
M: Nice choice! Walk me through your in-store shopping experience - do you find it difficult to find hijabi clothing?
F: I'm actually an online-shopper because I find it easier and more convenient! It used to be harder finding hijabi-friendly clothing when I was in high school! But now I feel like the trends are more catered to hijabis. For example, the 90's style is coming back with oversized tops to match with leggings, but as a hijabi I'd wear the oversized top with trousers or a pair of jeans and I love that!
M: Agreed! I remember when I was in high school/college it was near impossible to find a long skirt and if you did - it always had a slit up to the thigh. With online shopping - even if you can't find something in stores - you'll be able to find it somewhere online.
F: Yup! I agree, I love how maxi dresses and long skirts got so popular, they're seriously so perfect for hijabis.
M: For real. I just hope they don't fall off the planet cause they're so over-exposed. What's the best part about being Haute Hijab's 'It Girl?'
F: I love being a modest yet fashionable representation of my religion to other hijabis and nonhijabis! Being the Haute Hijab 'It Girl' has given me the opportunity to share my fashion sense, to show others that you can still look good and fashionable without exposing your body!
M: You're doing such an amazing job! Last question - if you could tell your 17 year-old self one thing, what would it be?
F: AHHHHH! I would have told myself A LOTTTTTTT of things! If only I could go back! I would tell myself to avoid making certain mistakes, but when you do fall into the trap of making a mistake don't let it discourage you from fulfilling the person you want to be. There's always room for improvement and bettering yourself. Your past mistakes shouldn't stop you from achieving your goals.
M: Love that. Thank you so much Farah and thanks for being such an awesome 'It Girl!'
F: Thank you for such a great opportunity!
Do you have a question for 'It Girl' Farah? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or share below!