How 'The Mandalorian' Reminds Me of Hijab-Wearing Muslim Women
Dec 11, 2020
Matt Tirpak
staff writer
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The Mandalorian holds Grogru, aka Baby Yoda.
I am not a hijab-wearing woman, or a woman for that matter. I am, however, a Star Wars fan. So, if you guessed that I’m a white male in his 30’s, you’d be correct. I have been working at Haute Hijab for almost a year now as the Marketing Specialist and have learned a lot in that time about hijab-wearing women and a bit about Islam in general. It’s been a cool experience. While I have no idea what the daily life of a hijabi is like, I did notice a few interesting parallels between the Star Wars title character in The Mandalorian and hijabis.
The Mandalorian, which airs Friday nights on Disney+, is completing its second season with a third scheduled to debut late 2021. The season finale airs next week. This show is probably best known for debuting Baby Yoda, the most adorable and meme-able character on TV. It excels as a show due to its excellent storylines, exceptional costuming and imaginative locations. If you’re a Star Wars fan, chances are you love The Mandalorian. And if you are not, this show is a great place to start!
First what is a Mandalorian? They are a group of men and women in the Star Wars universe that follow the Mandalorian Code of Honor, which includes:
1. Wearing armor.
2. Speaking the language.
3. Defending yourself and your family.
4. Raising your children as Mandalorians.
5. Contributing to the clan's welfare.
6. Always aiding other Mand'alor
There’s a lot about the title character, called the Mandalorian, that reminds me about Muslim women who wear hijab. Admittedly I probably would not have put this association together prior to my joining HH. But, it’s been very interesting to see it all unfold. The tenet that most reminds me of women who wear hijab is the first part of the code. A Mandalorian should never remove their armor or helmet in the presence of others. Apparently that’s a question many on my HH team had heard before: Do you wear it all the time? Can you ever take your hijab off?
Do you shower in that thing?
The title character of the Mandalorian is asked in season one episode four, “How do you eat in that thing?” The answer is extremely complicated, and I hope I can explain it. A Mandalorian … removes their helmet in privacy and eats like any other human. Phew, I think I did it, I hope those 13 words weren’t too verbose or intricate. Just like hijab-wearing women of course remove their hijab in washing their hair, there is a simple answer that many people cannot fathom. Nothing mysterious here.
Just a little Baby Yoda-Haute Hijab humor for you!
Preconceived Notions
In the show, everyone who “Mando” meets has an opinion about him before ever hearing him speak. Some are respectful and curious while others are immediately belligerent. That sounded familiar to all of my hijab-wearing HH team members. The first scene of the first episode does a great tutorial on what Mando's life is like. In a bar, an angry man confronts Mando and demands his armor. Whether Mr. Angry knows this is extremely offensive to his culture isn’t detailed.
The Mandalorian is able to “deal with” the angry man without the angry man removing his armor. It reminded me of my HH hijab-wearing team members telling stories about being judged for how they looked by people who hadn’t even spoken to them or gotten to know them.
How Can You Be a Good Ally?
Here on the blog, our editor and writers have written a lot about what constitutes constructive and good allyship with Muslim women. It reminded me on The Mandalorian of Kuiil, a wise man who had never met a Mandalorian but read about them. He is not the same culture or religion as the Mandalorian but takes time to understand why Mando can’t take his helmet off.
At one point in the show the Mandalorian needs Kuiil’s help as a translator speaking with some aliens who stole the Mandalorian’s ship. The aliens want to trade the ship for the Mandalorian’s helmet. Kuiil, in this situation, explains the seriousness of the request and how the Mandalorian can never take off his helmet.
The Mandalorian instead nearly dies trying to steal an egg from a creature called a “Mudhorn,” which the aliens agreed to trade for instead of the Mando’s helmet and armor. This reminds me of the resolve that so many hijabi women show every day in their commitment to hijab and their resolve to wear it even when it feels difficult or even dangerous to do so. (There’s an ongoing discussion happening this month on the blog and our social media platforms under the hashtag #LikeYouMeanItHH that has conversations specifically about hijab intentions. Check it out if you can.)
A Quick Quiz: Who Is This Question About?
Just for a little more fun, I found some questions, comments and reddit threads and removed the subject. See if you can guess which are about hijabis and which are about Star Wars:
1. So what's the deal with ______ not removing their ______?
2. Why exactly can't they remove their _____?
3. What happens if you take it off?
4. Maybe that is stupid, but if the _________ never remove their ______, how do they eat, drink, brush their teeth or even scratch their nose? Did you ever have a ______ on? Sweaty, warm and stuffy.
5. How do __________ eat in public while wearing a ______?
The Mandalorian is a very well done show, with nuance, amazing sets and, of course, Baby Yoda! Our Blog Editor Dilshad Ali and her husband watches it with their kids, and we both recommend it highly. And, if you were wondering, all but number five in the quiz were comments about The Mandalorian.
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