“Free Humanity” has painted Audrey Hepburn in a beautifully colored veil in downtown Los Angeles. It’s a strange sight, and brings up pressing thoughts on the use of the headscarf in history and today’s growing trend in Islamism and complacency in the name of “interfaith dialogue” and “tolerance”.
Art has always pushed boundaries and created dialogue. I wonder what Free Humanity’s intentions are in covering Ms. Hepburn in the veil. I hope they are supporting women in Iran fighting for the right NOT to wear the hijab.
As a modern woman raised in a liberal democratic society, I find the image disturbing. The style worn in the painting is that of the chador forced on women in Iran. If caught on the streets in such a covering, the Modesty Police would fine her (or worse) for wearing such colors and letting her hair peak out. Classic beauties like Ms. Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Grace Kelly wore a scarf at times, but it was as a fashion accessory or protection from environmental elements. It was never associated with religious dogma.
With the recent surge in hijab fashion in the West, it might seem that Muslim women, granted the freedom to choose from every color and pattern imaginable, are taking control of their own sexuality and creative freedom. In reality, these girls are falling prey to the radicalization of Islam and agreeing to self segregate by gender. They are creating a separation in western society we have never seen before.
Even if we can look at hijab fashion as a “rebellion” against the more orthodox black hijab, it still betrays Muslim women abroad in less fortunate situations. If hijab rules were lifted in countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran for example, the majority of young Iranian women would take off their headscarves immediately.
There’s a strange irony to it all. If the entire point of the hijab, as per Qur’anic translation, is to “draw their khimar (veils) over their bosoms and not display their zeenah (charms, or beauty and ornaments) except to their husbands, their fathers” (24:31-32) resulting in their “being recognized (as decent women) and not harassed” (33:59), then painting one’s face with makeup and cinching one’s waist to emphasize her curves completely contradicts the intention of wearing the covering in the first place.
Warping the hijab into a fashion accessory which falsely empowers or liberates Muslim women does not address the important issues of misogyny found in the Qur’an which is promoted by women’s head coverings. I can’t believe this is actually happening in America. The free world is changing before our eyes.