While the debate over the hijab as a symbol of personal choice versus oppression is nothing new, that one can be fashioned as an artistic, creative expression is bringing a fresh perspective to the dialogue.
Didn’t expect the hijab to be stylized? Take a look at British artist Sara Shamsavari’s beautiful photo series in which unconventional veils challenge stereotypes and invite conversation.
Shamsavari, who is a non-Muslim of Iranian descent, told The Huffington Post she wants her project to discuss the hijab “beyond differences.”
“I have no attachment to the hijab specifically, I just believe that a person should have the right to choose their expression and it seems this group of people are targeted with a lot of prejudice and abuse in the west,” she said. “The work is neither as a critic nor an advocate of the hijab but exists rather to recognize and celebrate its participants as strong, vital individuals who manage to shine, despite the struggles of youth, womanhood and prejudice they may receive as a result of the visibility of their faith.”
During her most recent trip to New York City, Shamsavari was approached by photographer Brandon Stanton of the immensely popular “Humans of New York” blog. Stanton was on his way to the gym when he noticed her taking photographs. Shamsavari says he became inspired to share her work, something he told her “doesn’t usually do with his audience.”
“It was special and totally unanticipated,” Shamsavari said. “Brandon has visited Iran and his work resonates with my own in the sense that it is about elevation rather than exploitation of humans.”
Shamsavari’s photo series further proves the hijab and fashion are not mutually exclusive — in fact, Muslim women can use it to express themselves in a way most fashion bloggers can’t.