Sara: Was there any inter-generational tension involving “newer” hijab fashions?
Emma Tarlo: With most of the people I interviewed, their mothers did not wear hijab so the parents did not object. In a few cases mothers even adopted hijab following their daughters’ examples. More often, I came across cases where parents were slightly disconcerted that their daughters wanted to wear it, thinking that it would make life more difficult. As far as wearing hijab in fashionable styles was concerned, I never found parents objecting to that, although some religious leaders do raise complaints about contemporary hijab fashions making women look more beautiful and thereby detracting from what they see as the central meaning of hijab. Such tensions over how hijab should look are not just inter-generational. Some young women who favour more pious styles also object to new hijabi fashions.
In some South Asian families, inter gernational tensions are more often over styles of dress, with mothers favouring more Asian styles and objecting to their daughters wearing what they consider “Western” fashions such as jeans, skirts, etc. Whilst daughters might accuse their mothers of being too influenced by Asian cultural styles, mothers often complain that their daughters’ clothes are “too Western.” By wearing fashion “Western” clothing with hijab, young Muslim women can assert some independence in relation to their parents whose life style they often perceive as too tradition-bound.