Editor's note: This post is part of a Haute Hijab Academy series we're doing this month to help us all get ready for school, work, home stuff and whatever we have coming up as the summer winds down!
At what age did you start to wear hijab, and what feelings do you have associated with that period of time?
Hijab becomes mandatory
on Muslim women at the age of maturity, marked by the start of menstruation
, but the choice of when to actually start wearing it (or to wear it at all) is not always that simple. For those who start wearing hijab at a younger age, it can be a scary process of introducing friends and family to the newer looking you. For others, wearing hijab is as easy as pie, even at a young age, with little to no adjustment needed.
Personally, I found it to be daunting to wear hijab in public school because I would have been the only visible Muslim in the entire school. So at the age of 12, I begged my parents to transfer me to a local Islamic school. In the new environment, I found my comfort zone, and it was easy to wear a hijab amongst other Muslims who understood my modest apparel.
The choice of when to start wearing hijab and why varies widely, and there can be both ease and difficulty at any time throughout the process. This is why I was excited and inspired to find a young woman, full of conviction about her hijab, owning her modest apparel, and doing it with personality. Ladies, meet 12-year-old Menaal Seward.
Menaal Seward in an oversized flannel shirt.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Menaal’s mother’s blog, MommyWeek
, and I’ve watched snippets of little Menaal flourishing from a tiny sprout to a blossoming flower. When her mother, Ashley, announced that Menaal had committed to wearing hijab, I was beside myself with pride. And after seeing photo after photo of Menaal’s adorable style, I knew she was the young fashionista I wanted to interview for our Haute Hijab Academy back-to-school series.
“I started wearing a hijab at eight years old and I’m 12 now. My inspiration was my mom wearing it and [her] giving me scarves to just have in my closet when I was younger,” Menaal explains. “My experience with hijab has been very easy, and I haven't had any bad experiences, Alhamdulillah.”
Menaal’s style is so charming, and I was thrilled to hear that her experience with wearing hijab has been positive. But what’s her advice for dealing with negative experiences while wearing hijab?
“I think anyone who's scared of getting criticized for wearing hijab should brush it off and worry less, although it may not be easy in the beginning. If [a bad experience] did occur [to me], I don't think I would care much. That is how I take most things having to do with others' opinions about myself.”
Talk about an unapologetic young hijabi queen! I was living for Menaal’s responses – she exudes strength and deep self-awareness beyond her years.
I remembered when I was a young hijabi myself, maybe 13 or 14 years old. A common complaint amongst my non-hijabi peers was that wearing hijab would make them look old. So, how does Menaal maintain a youthful style with hijab?
Menaal takes her hijab color palate to her bag!
“I accessorize my hijab with pins, various hats and bandanas usually. To complete most looks I add on Converse [shoes] that go with just about anything and work well in any season. Usually, when I look for purses or bags I go for plain ones that can go with multiple things that are already in my closet, but I have about 20 purses.
“The basis for most of my outfits are white or black long sleeve mock neck tees and high-rise jeans or pants, then I add on jackets, a cardigan and anything else I deem the outfit needs,” Menaal says. “I follow trends most of the time, and sometimes just pull whatever out of my closet that looks nice and goes together. I can't simply pick one aesthetic to stick to, so I jump from one thing to another.”
I haven’t mentioned just yet that Menaal is an unschooler
, which helps in not having to deal with peer pressure. Many of the pressures young hijabis face are rooted in the school system – young women often express not wanting to change how they dress in the presence of classmates. Hijab-related incidents of bullying
are sadly not rare and can be discouraging. What’s Menaal’s message for those dealing with school-related hijab pressures? “For those who have experienced hardships, worry less about people's opinions and more about yours and Allah (S), may He make it easy for you, Insha’Allah.”
I asked Menaal to leave us with three style tips to own your hijab at a young age. Here are her suggestions to wearing hijab and maintaining a youthful look:
1. Wear a hat, [over your hijab].
2: Wear gold and silver accessories.
3: Wear matching purses and add on white af1s
(sneakers) and Converse
(sneakers) that go with anything.”
Menaal utilizes her style tip number three in this fit!
Masha’Allah, Menaal we are all so proud of you and the woman you are becoming!
Find more of Menaal on her mother’s lifestyle blog MommyWeek, and leave a comment below if you are inspired by Menaal and her impeccable style!