In her new book, entitled Visibly Muslim: Fashion, Politics, Faith, Emma Tarlo captures the diversity in the way that Islam is practiced against the backdrop of multi-cultural Britain. Refreshingly, the book did not aim to answer whether or not covering was a part of Islam, and neither did it represent the views of Muslim women as a monolithic body.
In her book, Tarlo shows a snapshot of the way in which the veil has manifested itself within the Muslim population of Britain. In focusing on the way that different Muslim women struggle to find common ground between various identities, and the reactions of those around them, Tarlo looks at the veil as a part of the changing dynamics of members of a newer community, rather than an exposé that aims to penetrate the “secret world of Muslim women.”
Within the book, Tarlo moves from discussing high-profile Muslim women, to fashion, the hijab as a part of politics, and the fluid relationship between culture and religion. She does not gloss over the difficulties in finding a bridge between identities. When I saw the words “fashion” and “veil” together, I was worried that I would be confronted with a piece that would merely wax poetic about the intricate embroidery of hijab and the wonderful colors and trends that are starting to rival the Western fashion industry. Instead, Tarlo does depict changing fashions for Muslim women, but rather as a part of personal journeys. Furthermore, she analyzes the discourse surrounding the emerging market for “modest fashion.”