One day, the 22-year-old Rana Abdelhamid was told by a friend that she “looked fairly normal for a woman with a headscarf”. She realized how deeply rooted the prejudice and stereotypes of women wearing headscarves actually are, so she decided to create a new Facebook page called Hijabis of New York. Using the immensely popular Humans of New York page as an example, she shares photographs of young women that wear headscarves in New York along with their stories. Now, one year later, her page has reached over ten thousand likes.
“My goal was to use photography and social media to show the rest of the world the vibrancy and diversity of Hijabi women,” she told the lifestyle magazine Elle. “There are so many stereotypes around the hijab, both from within the Muslim community and the non-Muslim community. People will assume that veiled women are really conservative, soft spoken, docile and not career-oriented,” Abdelhamid added.
The Facebook page shares stories of ambitious students, political activists, and entrepreneurs. Stories ranging from plain everyday situations to strong and diverse opinions. Regardless of the fact that the page is in fact about headscarf-wearing women, Abdelhamid isn’t quite fond of it being the main topic of conversation about Muslim women. “There are so many other real challenges–domestic violence, assault, harrassment–facing Muslim women that I hope this page will be able to shed a light on.”
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Abdelhamid stresses the importance of headscarves as a part of her identity, just as much as it is her own choice to wear one. And most importantly that it is now the time to really get to know the hijabis.