Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Aun Hasan Ali

Second Advisor

Dr. Deborah Whitehead

Third Advisor

Dr. Carla Jones

Abstract

Hijabista is a portmanteau comprising “hijab” and “fashionista.” The term describes young, fashion-conscious Muslim women who wear the hijab in new and creative ways that showcase their performance of agency, beauty, and piety. This movement serves, in part, to respond to and counteract Islamophobic representations of Islam in contemporary America. These representations include narratives which cast hijabi women as oppressed and lacking agency. In addition, Muslim-American women are portrayed as unfashionable and un-American. The emergence and evolution of the hijabista trend functions to empower Muslim women and redefine Muslim American identities.

This thesis investigates the new narratives created by hijabista women and the ways in which these women redefine and express agency, beauty, and modesty. I utilize theoretical frameworks established by various scholars to interpret agency, modesty, and piety from an anthropological perspective. I also provide a detailed analysis of different case studies, and incorporate the voices of hijabi women. Throughout the thesis, I situate these analyses within a broader context involving the role of market representation and the capitalist agenda. I conclude by illustrating the complexity of these themes, and I highlight the importance of questioning assumptions about agency, self-expression, beauty, fashion, and religion.

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