Sunday 17 June 2007

A fashion conversation

17 June 2007

While wondering around Salah A Din street taking photographs of the women’s fashions, I dropped into a store and I started a conversation with a Jerusalem Muslim woman.

She said:

• You cannot judge a women if she is Muslim or not by how she dresses. Many of the younger Muslim women wear short sleeves and a long shirt with a skirt and not all of them will have their hair covered.
• You must judge a woman by her manners, how she behaves. It is not our way or proper to call someone a slut, just because they are not fully covered.

I told her that I noticed in the shops are many clothes that are sleeveless, backless, and very sexy, but I do not see the women walking down the street this way. Why?

She said:

• Many of us are covered in public in respect to our husbands and to ourselves. We like to wear modest clothing. It also keeps the men from staring at us.
• When we get home, we like to dress in more modern clothes, so we change into something that is much more comfortable.
• Many times when women get together, we go out in public with our long and loose clothes and our scarves, but when we arrive to the home with the women, we remove all those outer clothes and wear or beautiful dresses!

She also told me that:

• The women in Jerusalem are modernists because we were raised in Israel, next to the Jewish. We went to school with them and had to learn in Hebrew and spoke Arabic in our homes.
• Because of this, we dress more modern and not as traditional as those from Gaza, or the refugee camps.
• There are generational differences, the older women dress in the more traditional long dresses with embroider on them.
• The women my age wear long skirts with a long blouse
• The younger girls, dress in either skirts or pants with a long blouse and more modern than us.
• In Jerusalem you hardly ever see a young girl chose to dress in a long dress.

She asked me why do foreigners come to Jerusalem all covered up? “I have seen some people even with a scarf on.”

I told her that they probably do this in respect to their culture. She had a hard time understanding that and thought that it was silly. I went further to explain, that I would be uncomfortable walking around E. Jerusalem or the Old City with a halter top on, the men would drive me crazy! She laughed and then understood.

She did add however, that it would not be right to go into Gaza with a short sleeved shirt or into a refugee camp this way. No one would respect you.

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