The ladies of MMW recieved a link to this video on Twitter. For the videophobes and those who don’t want their brain to melt and leak out of their ears, it is a song apparently about hijab called “You Got it Covered.”
A sampling of the lyrics is as follows:
“girl, you’re more than just some skin and a fashion trend”
“you remind me that you’re more than just a pretty face/ you remind me that you’re more than just a pretty waist/ that’s the reason that I love you/ you got it/ you got it covered.”
“and I’m lowering my gaze/ mama said “don’t look directly into sun rays”
The beat is nice and has a certain catchy low-fi slow jam quality to it. However, the song lyrics struck a chord (har har) with me as a blogger, a Muslimah, a “de-jabi” and a woman, so I felt the need to respond to this tweet and the song it contained.
Before I talk about hijab, let’s have a tangent about Moonlight Sonata. As a child, I played piano (HARAAM, yes I know, days of Jahiliyyah, etc.), and each year I entered a series of formal piano competitions where the students all performed songs from a list of approved classics. My piano teacher had a complete and total ban on any of her students playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Her explanation was twofold: 1. people are tired of listening to it, so the judge will fail you for being boring; and 2. everyone has played it, so everyone has their own opinion about what it should sound like, and chances are the person judging you will think you are playing it wrong.
Writing a song about hijab (yes, and then writing a blog post about how I feel about this song) is kind of like playing Moonlight Sonata- everyone has an opinion, and you really can’t say someone is wrong or right. But there are two dangerous things going on with “You Got it Covered.”
One, no one can say anything about hijab that we haven’t already heard a million times, and to assume otherwise is intellectually irresponsible. And this isn’t just my privilege talking – what Muslim woman on the planet hasn’t had the heart-to-heart with herself about how she feels about hijab? Of course, yes, some women live in places where they “don’t have a choice” about wearing it… but that doesn’t mean they haven’t thought about it, and to suggest otherwise is disrespectful.
Secondly, the song raises a number of serious questions about the representation of women’s bodies that apparently in all of the singer’s good intentions he is trying to counteract. I think it is great that our musical friend wants to elevate the discourse past the Kardashians and tell us that we are “more than just a pretty waist,” but apparently we are not more than our hijab, which is very bad. Why is everything about our Islam-ness tied up into our hijab? Why is someone else’s opinion about our worth as Muslimahs more important than the truths we hold dear to ourselves as human beings?
So “You Got it Covered” is playing it wrong because very little anyone can say at this point will mean anything to anyone about the merits (or lack thereof) of wearing hijab. It is funny, because many of the platitudes spouted about wearing the veil is how it is all about how we are judged for our minds and not our appearances. In other words, the BS we get fed is that hijab is supposed to take us out of the Hollywood culture. I’m not so sure; I think girls in hijab get judged double and triple for their appearances. In fact, our entire worth as members of the ummah is sometimes tied up in our scarves. Let’s ask our musical friend again, who reminds us that we are “more than just beauty on the outside” but at the same time, he wants us to know that “it’s even more beautiful/When you’re covered/In your colors.” So is it or is it not about what we’re wearing? Because for me, while being an ode to the Covered Muslimah, “You’ve Got it Covered” is still all about our clothes.
In fact, the song takes it one step further: because our muse is covered up in her colors, our singer reminds us that “I would never disrespect you/You got it covered.” My problem is that when people talk about the black and white of “hijab=respects herself”/ “no hijab=not on the deen” they ignore that we as women are on a continuum. For every girl who puts on hijab and may think finally people will shut up, there are five more people down the road who will blast her for not wearing jilbab too. I will never get how we decide someone’s deen by their clothing choices.
It also amazes me how people (like our singer friend) think they understand how we think; the lyrics say: “Wishing you get noticed /Like the girls in the magazines/I bet you didn’t know this/But you’ve always been a queen to me.” First, I don’t want to be noticed and it can be argued that some women who choose the hijab, besides doing it for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala OF COURSE, do so because they don’t want to be part of the circus around mainstream beauty standards, so why would some of us die to be noticed or be, as mentioned in the opening lyrics, “scared to go outside”?
Taking the logic further, if we were donning our hijab for God only as we are supposed to do, why would we care if some random dude thought we looked like a queen while doing so? Finally, as a fat woman, I’m not convinced that putting on hijab equals moving past gendered and sexualized notions of beauty, because in the end our pretty waists (or in my case, the lack thereof) are still part of the discourse and part of this song, even if they are supposed to be covered up. Seriously, as an uncovered Muslimah with no waist to speak of, I must be extremely low on the human respect scale.
I should be fair here and admit that it could be argued that hijabis are this dude’s type, and who am I to rant at him about going against type? Furthermore, it could be argued that this guy is being altogether congratulatory about hijabis and saying nice things about Muslimahs and, well, who can be mad at him for that?
I can. Because when you read or hear the song lyrics, when you negate the phrases, it means a girl who doesn’t wear hijab isn’t worthy of [his] love or respect. Does that mean that he spends time looking at the “pretty waists” of non-covered girls? What about some hijabis who happen to wear boleros that show off aforesaid pretty waists? What about the waists of covered girls (I know I used my jilbab to cover a muffin roll many a time) that may not fall under the description of “pretty”? Furthermore, why is it our job as human beings to make sure he knows we are “more than just a pretty waist”? Don’t we deserve basic human respect (waits for troll comment: “nooo because you don’t dress respectfully”)? Really, what about the girls who don’t have it covered? Are we not sisters in Islam?