Sunday, March 9, 2008
Fashion Freedom - Women's Wear in the Middle East
Many women have a daily uniform that they are required by law to abide. These laws on clothing were formulated by the countries’ religious practices and cultural customs. For the majority, women’s form of dress in the Middle East forbids their act of exercising self expressive rights. Frances Harrison detailed in their article "Iran Police Move into Fashion Business,"
"According to the law, a woman who does not cover her hair and body in public can be fined or imprisoned for up to two months."
Women are burdened with a daily threat because of how their wardrobe appears. The law and male dominance keeps women in a restricted area of dress. Dr. Louay Safi stated in their article "Hijab; Personal Choice Not State Law in Turkey"
"The argument is, more importantly, sexist as it assumes that women cannot have a mind of their own, and are always vulnerable to manipulation by male members of their society."
Interestingly, hijabs and burkas have been proven to be bad for women's health. Due to the yards of fabric blocking women’s skin, they are not receiving enough vitamin D from natural sunlight that their body needs, which could lead the bone deficiencies. The fashion that has so long been induced by the government and men of the middle eastern society is actually bad for women.
In recent years, a little light has been shed on the Middle Eastern Women's world of fashion. They are starting to be able to make their own choices, rather than the men being the constant dictators of their appearance. Rachel Makabi stated in her article entitled "Globalized Fashion a Political Statement in the Middle East"
"The way women wear the manteau has even become a fashion statement in and of itself, with lengths and colors changing from season to season."
The fashion of women in the Middle East is becoming more personalized with varying styles of the traditional wear; however, these subtle changes are made only through the permission from the male dominated government. Here is a Middle Eastern woman citizen's opinion of her daily dress:
"Our goverment's offering a little glamour is like their giving us freedom of speech or giving us our right to have peaceful nuclear energy. I have to wear headscarf and coat in summer while my husband wears T shirt and jeans, although I do not believe in Islamic code of dressing (Hijab). What really bothers me is that we don't have freedom to choose our own style of dressing." Faranak, Tehran/ Iran
Traditions are the root of culture and daily life, but they are not a domain of existence. The women of the Middle Eastern cultures should be freed of their clothing stipulations. Those who choose to stick to tradition may do so. Those who do not, should not be punished for self expression.