This post was written by wood turtle and originally published at her blog.
Introducing the Hijab 5000! Your life will be transformed within seconds of putting it on! Not only will it protect you from the untoward gaze of lustful and sexually uncontrollable men, but you’ll sure turn heads when everyone hears of your hijab’s scientific miracles. With just one application, the hijab will deep condition and protect your gorgeous locks from pollution; keep you warm by helping you retain 40-60% of your body heat; protect you from the sun’s harmful rays; promote healthy hygiene – no more stray hairs in your salad; boost your self-esteem; pave the way for marriage proposals; grant you protection from the evil-eye and cure your infertility!
I love it when the media sensationalises the hijab – othering, exotifying and generalising a personal religious symbol. But Muslims sensationalise the hijab too. While a few of the above “facts” are actually true, they’re often used to market the hijab beyond reasons of modesty, religious adherence or identity with Islam.
Hijab influencing one’s fertility is something I recently heard on TLC’s All-American Muslim. Now, I know the show is reality TV – the aim is to sensationalise and pick up on minuscule but shocking sound-bites just to blow them out of proportion. So I wasn’t that surprised when looking through their online clips I found one called, “Hijab’s Influence on Infertility.”
Though after watching the clips, reading reviews, and speaking to fans of the show, I would have simply called it: “Women wear or don’t wear the hijab for a million different reasons.”
(But wood turtle, it’s just a title – lighten up! I know, I know. But it reminded me of all the little, ubiquitous ways the media continues to perpetrate misunderstandings about hijab. So I’m going to take this opportunity to complain.)
So in last week’s episode, Samira Amen-Fawaz decided to put on the hijab. She wore hijab pre-9/11 but took it off believing that people saw the hijab as something “scary.”
One of her many reasons for putting it back on includes her desire to become closer to God, in the hopes that by doing so, she’ll have the support to get through this trying time of infertility while she and her husband attempt to produce a child. Now, she doesn’t overtly say, “wearing hijab will help me get pregnant” but simply explains in a twelve second sound bite, that her infertility struggles are a sign from God saying, “when are you going to wake up and listen to me?”
Naturally, this is the point reality TV wants to exploit.