Hello hello and Salaam Alaykum (I wish upon you peace)!
Look who’s back to make her quarter annual appearance on the blog LOL. Unfortunately, this sarcastic comment is true, and I have no excuse for it. This blogpost is actually quite long-awaited and I have tried many times to write this, but have not been able to capture and convey my thoughts in the way that I would like them to be perceived. As I am currently taking a break from Instagram, I have felt this hurry to publish this post. I owe it to my audience to share my thoughts and the reasoning for my recent absence from Instagram.
With this being said, I am *genuinely* and *actually* excited about this. Not excited necessarily in the conventional happy way, but there is a sense of relief that accompanies this post. I feel like I can finally take a new step in this chapter of blogging.
If you have or have not noticed, and honestly, I did not really think people would notice, I have taken a break from Instagram and blogging for a little while. As this post is all about me being truly honest, I must share – I have actually been thinking about this for what seems like all of 2018. With the somber start of the Islamic new year as Muharram arrived, and as I started my ‘career’ job, I could not have asked for a better timing to have this hiatus. I have been using my time to focus on work and finding my feet in the adult world. I have also had the opportunity to reflect on why I started HijabiHeroes in the first place, what do I wish to accomplish with HijabiHeroes, and how I can stay afloat in what seems like a sinking ship (this ship being the modest fashion/hijabi blogging world, and I’ll explain more about what I mean).
I am truly grateful to the Almighty for giving me this opportunity and the insight to really take a step back and stay accountable to myself and my values.
So, the question that arises is – WHY did I want to take a step back from blogging?!
To cut the long story short. I think, at the CURRENT time, the modest fashion/hijabi blogging industry may be doing more damage than benefit.
Yes. I said it. As a blogger. As a contributor to this industry. As an influencer.
Now, of course, I have to add disclaimers to my above statement. Not EVERY blogger contributes negatively to the industry.
Do I think that bloggers and influencers directly or intentionally do negative things – no, not always. But, do I think we as bloggers have to accept and acknowledge how our actions can cause some negative outcomes – yes, of course. Please read this with an open mind!
The way I think about it is – I started HH to do something good. However, every so often, I have to analyze and reflect – Is this action of mine fulfilling its desired outcome? Does this deed have any other, unintended consequences? Is the medium I employ to share my love for modest fashion contributing to something greater than itself?
When I thought of these questions, unfortunately in my mind, I was only able to answer these questions with negatives. It was gut-wrenching. How could my baby, my blog of 4 years, my passion and soul, be a BAD thing?!? For surely I did not establish it with an inherently negative intention. Quite the opposite. Yet, I had to call myself out.
And most importantly, I had to be true to myself and my values.
Now, why did I compare the modest fashion/hijabi blogging industry to a sinking ship? It may be a bit dramatic, but for those of you who know me quite well, dramatic is a word often used to describe me 😉
Seriously, as someone within the industry, I see both sides of the coin.
I cannot deny that the wave of modest fashion, through bloggers and influencers across multiple social media platforms, has done amazing things. There are many more positive role models and there is more Muslim/Hijabi representation in the media, and it’s awesome. Growing up, many of us did not have any fellow Muslims or Hijabis to look up to in the media. Now, this is not the case.
But, what happens to the day to day life? Yes, it’s great that younger girls can open Instagram and find hundreds of tutorials on different hijab styles and can easily scroll to find ideas on what to wear. However, do we truly understand the message we are sending out? I spoke to some girls at my mosque about this (shout-out to Sakina and Fatema lol) and it was interesting to hear their perspective as well. Sometimes, when we as bloggers wear a certain clothing item or wear our hijab in a specific style, other people see this as “the acceptable thing” to do. Especially when there are hundreds of likes and comments, further validating and accepting this notion.
Of course, no one is perfect. I do not think I share the PERFECT version of hijab on my account, so no, there is no holier than thou perspective here. I share my posts with my own guideline of hijab and that’s on me. Many others obviously believe that what they are wearing is acceptable, and are sharing it.
With this being said, we are telling other girls and women that it is OKAY to dress this way or OKAY to wear your hijab in this style. When, sometimes, I really don’t think it is.
There is this popular phenomenon currently of this “you do you” notion. You want to do this and publicize it?! Sure girl, YOU DO YOU. You want to wear your hijab this way, of course, boo, that’s YOU. We are becoming the gauges for what others can and cannot do.
Now, a lot of people will say this is a lot of responsibility. They argue that they just have a public Instagram account to show their life and share their outfits.
However, once you promote one single hijab on your Instagram account, for example, you can no longer say, “well I’m just doing me and showing my style”. It’s quite the contrary. Once you receive a complimentary hijab or item, you are an influencer. In my humble opinion, I do not think bloggers are recognizing this. Again, hear me out, as I am one, too. I am not just blaming people without understanding their points of view. It’s not easy to publicize your life on social media, but if you have chosen to do so, you cannot just take the freebies and opportunities without having the accountability.
I am not saying these things to hijab-shame. I truly believe that the over-saturated hijabi fashion industry is skewing our idea of hijab. And of course, it is not just the bloggers who do this. We, as the audience also follow things at face value, so we copy and paste what we see and implement them into our own lives. There has to be accountability on both ends.
But, when I see girls, who I have known for a number of years, start wearing a full face of makeup in middle school, or wearing shorter and shorter sleeves and trousers, I cannot help but reflect and realize my role in all of this. I may not have directly influenced this, but my blog within this industry has a big hand to play. I really cannot just sit back and watch this unfold without accepting my culpability for it.
There are of course some other things that upset me about Instagram, and these are in no way specific only to hijabi or Muslim bloggers. One main factor is this sense of a false reality that is created by bloggers.
As we all regularly see, bloggers will share inspirational quotes and their life stories with their audience, which is undoubtedly an awesome thing. It’s refreshing to look at this perspective and understand the struggles one has faced to reach their current state. With this being said, I have seen some bloggers do all of this and preach about being true to oneself, while they also blatantly LIE to their followers. This could be in multiple ways. They share a product in a way that they were sent this product by a brand or company when in reality, it was purchased by themselves or someone else. Or, they buy followers to make them seem more popular then they are.
Please, please, PLEASE, do NOT take everything a blogger says at face value, including myself! I know this has been said 10489275 times, but Instagram is truly a highlight reel.
INSTAGRAM 👏🏾 IS 👏🏾 A 👏🏾 HIGHLIGHT 👏🏾 REEL 👏🏾
People will go to great lengths to make their life seem perfect. Let me tell you – it’s not. It’s not. No matter how perfect it seems. IT’S NOT.
Again, this comes back to my aforementioned point. This is not a one-sided issue and the fault is not easily assigned. As viewers and followers of influencers, we have to also realize that everything we see is polished. That photo probably has 86 other similar photos that did not make the cut. That perfect and cute video probably took a number of hours to edit. We have to think critically and take everything with a grain of salt.
So NOW WHAT?
Honestly, this past little while, after not having a public Instagram account, it has truly been a breath of fresh air. I do not feel pressured when I go out to HAVE to take an outfit photo. In all honesty, I feel like I have a better attitude in life LOL. Normally, I’d get so upset when I do not get a good outfit photo or it does not turn out as I envisioned. But now, I do not have that worry. Yes, of course, I still think about taking OOTDs. But 9/10 times, these past couple weeks, I have NOT gotten my photo. And it’s okay. I feel like I am living in the moment because I do not need to take my phone out all the time to share with my followers so they can see what a great time I am having.
With alllll of this said, I do plan on returning to Instagram and blogging. I’m not sure exactly when. I know it may not be the best world, but I know I have an audience, and I can create a difference.
I started HH as a medium to share my narrative and experiences as a veiled woman, now working in the healthcare field, and to hopefully inspire others. Everyone has a way of connecting to the hijab, and for me, fashion is one of the ways I do so. I strive to empower and inspire my fellow sisters to love their hijab and hopefully get closer to their Creator through their hijab. I have used my platform to share light on real-life and even ‘controversial’ issues as well. I know I have built an audience, and hence, I should use it to spread good and share that which is not shared. And I will be accountable for this on the Day of Judgment.
I cannot change an entire system. However, I can change my role in the system. And I can challenge others to think about the system differently. Again, I am not throwing blame and I am truly doing what I think is best. For me, and to fulfill my responsibility. I have made my footprint in the blogging world. I have to make sure that it counts.