The Ladies in Red: Shepard Fairey’s Propangand-art

I must admit, when I first saw my brother and sister walk in with these t-shirts on, my first thought was, “Awesome! Where can I get one of those?”If you live in California, the graphic style should be all too familiar. Shepard Fairey’s stickers, stencils, and prints can be seen plastered on sidewalk newspaper stands, electrical boxes, billboards, and on the sides of trains all across Los Angeles and Orange County.It’s all a part of an experiment in phenomenology—an idea that attempts to … [Read more...]

Ted Talks About Women’s Bodies at Cultural Battlegrounds

TED Talks are short lectures of no longer than 18 minutes, delivered on a variety of subjects by numerous speakers.Sherin El Feki introduces her lecture as being about pop culture in the Arab world. She then states she's brought along an old friend and holds up a naked Barbie doll. Then she holds up a Fulla doll and introduces it as the Arab world's answer to Barbie. The Fulla doll is dressed in a black abaya and hijab, presumably for maximum contrast. … [Read more...]

Burqa Shades: Preserving Tradition or Profitting Off of it?

This was written by Sara Elghobashy and originally appeared at elan.It seems that everywhere you turn there is a burqa product hitting the market. From the Wine Bottle Burqa to the Bluetooth Burqa, Burqa Barbie to the Laptop Burqa, the fascination with covering just won’t go away. But if you haven’t gotten your fix just yet, let me introduce you to the burqa shades.The brain child of Dubai-based consulting firm, Fitch, the burqa shades, or “bq” for short, seek to “combine fashion with cult … [Read more...]

The Burqa Barbie Brouhaha

A recent decision to auction a “Burqa Barbie” for a Save the Children fundraising campaign (“to educate children in conflict areas around the world”) has been making its rounds online this past week.  Of the 500 different Barbies designed by Eliana Lorena, it was only natural for the culturally inappropriate (Islamic!) “Burqa Barbie” to be singled out as a cause for uproar.  (I was interested in seeing what the other 499 Barbies looked like, as I find cultural dress from around the world fascinat … [Read more...]

Marketing Muslim Lifestyles and Rethinking Modesty

If a hijab in Pucci-designed print could speak, what would it say? I attended a seminar presented by Professor Reina Lewis on Muslim women's lifestyle magazines last night and was faced with this bizarre question. It all started with the actual seminar itself, which showcased the latest research adventures of the fashion and design professor. Weaving together previous work that included alternative Orientalist narratives in the 19th century and queer lifestyle magazines, Lewis' paper focused on … [Read more...]

A New Bang for your Buck: Fake Hymens for Sale

Last month, Soad Abdel Rassoul from Radio Netherlands published an Arabic translation for a Chinese advertisement targeting Middle East countries. The product? Artificial Virginity Hymen.The majority of comments on this product have been from men. Interestingly, the only woman to speak out on this issue so far is Abdel Rassoul.Abdel Rassoul said: China is a coutnry that has really understood us and revealed our truth, our diseases, and our obsession with image but not content. We are a … [Read more...]

Material Girls: Talking about Gender and Consumerism at ISNA

I spent this past weekend at a conference near Toronto, co-hosted by ISNA Canada (the Islamic Society of North America) and Reviving the Islamic Spirit.  The theme of the convention was "Serving God, Serving Humanity: Moral Basis of Effective Social Action."  Overall, I have to say it was probably the best Islamic conference I've ever been to, and a very powerful (and much needed) pre-Ramadan spiritual boost, alhamdulillah.As much as I loved the convention, my biggest complaint, not s … [Read more...]