Posted by: Ange | February 4, 2010

My Body is My Own Business by Naheed Mustafa

In this piece Mustafa uses her own voice to go against the stereotypes of the hijab. She uses a persuasive voice to appeal her beliefs to the audience. She is writing this piece as a young Muslim with a North American upbringing. I believe that her audience is the people of western countries that do not understand the hijab and believe that it oppresses women.

The purpose of Mustafa writing this piece is to show the world that choose to wear the hijab to be free. This goes against popular belief. Most people believe that it oppresses women and that it is wrong to wear it whereas Mustafa proposes the opposite. She is trying to show people that she is not a “radical, fundamentalist Muslim” or a “poster girl for oppressed womanhood.” She is trying to tell people that the hijab is actually worn so that people do not judge her on her looks. Many people also believe that by wearing the hijab women are being oppressed by men. Mustafa believes that by wearing the hijab she has equality among men.

Mustafa is trying to show that by wearing a hijab she no longer has to conform to society’s idea of “beauty.” By wearing the hijab she is free from that. By wearing the hijab people have to acknowledge herself as a person, and not by her appearances. She is showing that although women may have the right to wear what they want, by doing this some might make themselves party to their own “objectification.” By wearing the hijab Mustafa is placing more worth on herself and her body. This is her way of respecting herself. She is trying to show women that only when women are able to respect their bodies that true equality will occur.

Mustafa shows that when women turn down conventional beauty they often face “ridicule and contempt.” She shows that the reason these people are ridiculed is because they are not understood by others. Often time people do not want to take the time to understand. In the movie “Up in the Air,” George Clooney says “I stereotype, it’s quicker.” This is often the attitude that people have. Mustafa is trying to change their perceptions by saying that she once also was striving for conventional beauty. In her teenage years she was “borderline bulimic and spent a lot of money [she] didn’t have on potions and lotions in hopes of becoming the next Cindy Crawford.” By wearing the hijab she is free from that. Conventional beauty is always changing and making women that beauty is a “futile pursuit,” as the definition of beauty is constantly changing.

I think that Mustafa did an excellent job of persuading her audience. I never thought much about the hijab but had been told that it “oppressed” women. Her piece definitely made me think about it. In some ways I can also relate as the school I went to enforced a dress code and my parents always told me to dress conservatively. The reason this was in place was to respect our bodies and not let ourselves become subjective to our bodies.


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