What makes a complete woman?

Published: February 4, 2013
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I spend far less on my clothes, hair and makeup than most women in my income bracket, but I still feel like a woman. PHOTO: FILE

One of my teenage students stopped me on my way to class, sniffling and holding back the torrent of tears, desperate for help. She said she wished to end her life because,

‘Everyone hates me and makes fun of me because I am ugly and I am not feminine enough’.

The girl was a brainy, hardworking young lady; one who would score excellent grades but suffered terrible pressure from peers because she did not dress or wax or style her hair like other girls her age did.

I was revolted by our collective inability to accept human beings as they are without trying to smooth the ‘rough edges’ to make us all clones of the ideal stereotype set down by society.

The ideal stereotype is reinforced relentlessly through advertisements and the entertainment industry that creates images that exercise enormous influence on our minds.

Grotesque billboards stare down at the city telling us how ‘Slim is the in thing’, while TV commercials tell us that not having the latest brand of cell phone or the fairest skin tone makes one highly ineligible for marriage; and that people who stutter stand no chance at all for their appalling, socially incorrect inability.

In her article ‘The Balancing Act of Being Female’, Lisa Wade talks about how as a woman one has to conform to expectations of behaviour in varying situations; how it is a daily battle to play up to the demands an oversexed society puts on women.

From dress to demeanour, all is sized up and judged for social appropriacy: when being flirty may be appealing, and what crosses the line into ‘asking for it’. At the workplace it ought to be ‘proper’ but not in the least ‘prudish’, and a slight misdemeanour may just spill it over into inappropriately ‘cheeky’ and hence wholly undesirable.

It is a lot of pressure, which most women agree to subject themselves to as they dress in the rightly sized heels to convey the attitude the occasion demands. Often, the pressure from society is not recognised as it is mistaken for the woman’s freedom and natural right to look good and feel desired. However, this may make women spend more than their ability to get that right sort of look to make them win the nod of approval from a society that objectifies femininity.

On the flip side, the pressure it builds on women who may look different, to conform and look like who they are not is brutally oppressive.

The images, stereotypes and values created by the entertainment, cosmetic and the advertising industries are brutally insensitive and build pressure on women to look, dress, act a certain way or be condemned to social marginalisation. The materialist-commercial ethic values physicality over and above all else, and this is far worse for women due to the commercial obsession with the woman’s body for selling soap or cooking oil or cell phones.

The pressure this builds plays havoc with individual lives as it smothers the natural diversity of human beings. God made us in varying shapes, sizes, colours and personalities simply because that is how the world was meant to be. The colours made by God are painted in a tawdry plastic hue in one unvarying, flat stroke of sameness. Women mutilate their own bodies to feel more accepted; botox, nose-jobs, liposuction and plastic surgeries have been steadily on the rise in this society.

In the context of all this, the Muslim veil takes on significance. For me, it has always meant a refusal to subject myself to judgement by a commercialised, oversexed society. It is immensely liberating from the pressure of having to conform to the social standard of how I ought to look.

It is a refusal to allow myself to be judged merely by how I look or what I wear, a refusal to be subjected to the lustful stare of an onlooker. I spend far less on my clothes, hair and makeup than most women in my income bracket.

The veil for me is liberty.

Breaking me free from the fetters, it raises me onto a more spiritual and intellectual plane and this defines my social interaction while deflecting attention away from physicality.

But then again, to be judged as more pious and holy than my veil-less counterparts is equally disconcerting.

I wish we could just learn the simple lesson that human beings are more than the sum of all the clothes they wear.

Maryam.Sakeenah

Maryam Sakeenah

She teaches Sociology, Literature and Islamic Studies in Lahore and has authored a book documenting Islamic and Oriental responses to the Clash of Civilizations thesis. Maryam is also a social worker running an organization providing free virtual primary education for the poor and Tweets @MaryamSakeenah1

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nobody

    Good closing line. So very true.
    My two cents:……I respect your right to wear whatever you want to (and no it doesn’t make you any less of a woman if it’s not up to date with the latest fashion, least not in my opinion). But so many people tend to make the same generalization and group women into one of two categories: modest Muslim who isn’t worried about fashion, or brainless, self-absorbed, seemingly self loathing, immodest, insecure girl more obsessed with her wardrobe and other people’s opinion of her than her value as anything else.

    While I understand you personally aren’t passing a judgment on what another woman wears, simply stating you’re comfortable in your clothes, you seem to have included that other group and that other group only, whether intentionally or not.

    Personally, I fall in neither category mentioned here and to be honest I don’t give a rats diddly if my heels are the wrong height or my clothes aren’t exactly fitting to what other people think it should be and that doesn’t make me unfeminine in the least. On the same note, I’m not severely modest, and I do like to dabble in fashion here and there. To simplify: If I like it, I’ll wear it.
    That being said, aside from picking an appropriate outfit for the occasion (professional life, personal life, formal informal etc), I don’t dwell on my outfits and I certainly don’t dress only for others. In fact I don’t know a single woman who is that over obsessed with her appearance or her clothes and I certainly don’t know ANY who would willingly mutilate their bodies.
    I like fashion, but that doesn’t mean I wear it to warrant attention or to show off my chest and let people ‘lust’ over me.
    Being visibly feminine isn’t always just for a mate or to ignite a sexual response; it’s personal too. I also couldn’t ever imagine altering my body to fit into someone else’s idea of what a woman is. I abhor that mentality as would any self respecting man or woman. Anyways, my point is that’s not the only alternative to a modest hijabi or a woman who doesn’t care what she wears. So many people don’t get that this isn’t always an ‘either or’ situation.

    Having said all that, the live and let live stance really ought to be applied to a person’s wardrobe choices. Cheers. Recommend

  • http://na deep

    Wow – as I type this – I can imagine people tying their responses furiously.

    What I can tell you is frankly I do not understand why women cover up they way you do.

    It seems like an insult to men because what you are saying is if you are uncovered men will be carried away by temptation – I know sex dominates the mind of men but please give them more credit and respect.
    It seems like the classic cop out – I will cover up because I am not going to be pressurised to look the way you expect me to. Both men and women are expected to be dressed decently. Just as I dont expect every other man to be Brad Pitt I am sure men do not expect every woman to be this good looking – and if they do – it is THEIR problem – not yours.
    You are a coward – what stops you from leading the simple life without hiding behind that cover – your cover says to me that you have given up – it says you are defeated before even starting and it says you do not have the courage to be who you are regardless of society’s painful judging eyes. Liberating..? delusional is more like it.

    Recommend

  • BlackJack

    God made us in varying shapes, sizes, colours and personalities simply because that is how the world was meant to be.
    Why did he make us find one kind more attractive than the other? I think that is where the root of the problem is – major defects in the manufacturing process :).Recommend

  • Rameez

    *It is a refusal to allow myself to be judged merely by how I look or what I wear, a refusal to be subjected to the lustful stare of an onlooker.

    So the women who refuse to share your view point and not wear veil are asking to be judged merely by how they look. Is this what you are trying to say….

    Oh please,I don’t know why every woman considers herself a goddess who every man wants to have.

    I spend far less on my clothes, hair and makeup than most women in my income bracket*

    Here is the ” invisible medal of achievement ” Recommend

  • Nobody

    @deep:
    Bit presumptuous calling someone you don’t even know a coward. People like you contradict themselves man. Why care so much about another person’s clothes? It’s got nothing to do with you or me.
    I can’t call myself a liberal person if I’m going to criticize someone else’s way of dressing, no matter how absurd or old school I think it is. Honestly, I think abaya and niqab are archaic and a cop out for males misbehaving, but so what? That’s what I think. Emphasis on the I. Long as I don’t have to wear it and the person wearing it isn’t forced gun to their head, I don’t care. I wouldn’t appreciate someone calling me anything because I don’t wear particularly modest clothing and I’d be nothing short of a hypocrite for calling someone else out for being too covered up or “hiding” behind their clothes. Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author “It is immensely liberating from the pressure of having to conform to the social standard of how I ought to look.”

    Thanks for sharing the truth. It means you care a lot about what others think about you and not what you think about yourself. Do you know people can still see half of your face and your eyes can tell a lot about you?Recommend

  • sadia saba

    You have identified all the right problems that women in patriarchal cultures face but the solution that you have come up with is simply quite horrible. The cure to a culture that judges women on their physical aspects isn’t to cover women up completely, it’s actually to empower women more economically and intectually and financially. It’s a terrible idea to ask women to cover themselves up to protect them from lustful stares when you should rather be teaching men to behave themselves and tell that that it’s impolite to stare…Because when you put the onus on women, then it only leads to a slippery slope of “she was asking for it”….Because then there is no stopping of what can tempt a man….Say I can look at your picture with this article and tell you it’s your eyes I find tempting, and that it’s your fault that I am harrassing you because you haven’t covered up your eyes as well…Heck what if my mere presence in a room tempts a man? Am I to remove myself completely from the public life? How is that helping a woman in a mysoginistic society? Wouldn’t it render women more powerless and helpless instead?Recommend

  • Reality

    Sigh!… If only people could understand ,How our(this includes men too) definition of beauty has been altered by media, that it has made women of any size, any colour,any race, any country dissatisfied of their appearances.Profit-driven media, hand in hand with the multi-billion-dollar beauty and weight loss product industries, rely on us believing a lie!. A hijabi or non a hijabi, a nudist or a non nudist! Every woman especially teenagers of this era has fallen victim of unhealthy,thinspiration, fitspriation beauty dilemma. While the vast majority of images of women & men are being digitally altered, so are our perceptions of normal, healthy, beautiful and attainable body. Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author “human beings are more than the sum of all the clothes they wear.”

    In real life one’s first impression is created by his / her looks that includes makes up, hairstyle and clothes. Clothes don’t have to be expensive to make one look good.

    Many women claim they don’t want to be judged by their looks. I wonder how can people judge a person otherwise. People are attracted to good looking people. Good looking people are thought to be more intelligent too. Even teachers pay more attention to good looking kids.

    Your eyes tell a lot about you. You can’t control what men think about you. Men fantasize a lot.

    In countries where all women burqa, lust stares or lust thoughts don’t just disappear. Women in burqa get raped, sexually harassed, touched. There is as much incest, sexual abuse in those countries. Even little boys are not spared. Moulvis and preists are famous for molesting kids.

    By working burqa you feel you are protected. Your feeling is what matters. For most men around you are still a woman. Do you think dressing up boys differently can save them from molesters.Recommend

  • Op

    i totally agree with you on the point that if you want to dress then dress for yourself not to impress other…Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Hmm. A woman who likes looking good is doing it because she is an empty-headed bimbo who has been brainwashed by society into dressing a particular way – so says someone who clothes herself from head to toe in a cloak in the scorching heat because it apparently makes her feel good about herself. Both apparently like feeling hot in their own individual ways…..Recommend

  • observer

    I wish we could just learn the simple lesson that human beings are more than the sum of all the clothes they wear.

    Since you know this, why are you obsessing over what you wear and what somebody else is wearing?Recommend

  • Mj

    I think it was underhanded to use personal issues of a student to advocate for what you think is a religiously mandated shroud. It might have been better to critique shallow materialism as it is a universal issue faced by all, instead of just muslim females. Recommend

  • http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/1695142/ayesha_pervez.html Ayesha Pervez

    The comments make me realise that people are so averse to a woman covering herself up. If a woman likes to show herself thats ok, its her choice, dont judge her blah blah but if she wants to cover herself up then all hell breaks loose. Everyone judges her for being a coward, for putting the blame on women, for discrediting men and what not sigh Recommend

  • http://MaryamSakeenah Robert

    Greetings,

    Thank you for this exceptional article.

    I have not read the other comments on it, as I do not want them to influence my comment here. I write this as the father of young girl. I see her respond to society’s pressures, despite guidance from me that these pressures are socially engineered, largely by men, to control women.

    I find your argument for wearing the veil spot on. How lovely…and powerful

    All good wishes,

    robertRecommend

  • Aijaz Haider

    “In the context of all this, the Muslim veil takes on significance. For me, it has always meant a refusal to subject myself to judgement by a commercialised, oversexed society.”
    “But then again, to be judged as more pious and holy than my veil-less counterparts is equally disconcerting.”
    If you do something to obey and please Allah then why worry about others’ judgement? Likewise don’t judge others – they may have reasons you don’t know.Recommend

  • uzma ausaf

    The best line

    But then again, to be judged as more pious and holy than my veil-less counterparts is equally disconcerting.
    I wish we could just learn the simple lesson that human beings are more than the sum of all the clothes they wear.

    sums it all !!!!Recommend

  • shahid

    How come women with viel can see all the men satisfying thier eyes but men are not allowed the same? Remember it was Hazrat Zulekha who Pulled Hazrat yousuf. My recommendation is that men and women both should cover thier faces as Islam put emphasis on equality of sexes. Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    Beautiful Article. The Islamophobes are turning in their chairs and fuming, as can be seen from their comments above :) Your article is very true, sister. The so called modern society has made woman a showpiece and object of pleasure for the eyes of all the random men.
    At the same time men are told to lower their gaze in the Glorious Quran, so that a morally perfect society can be formed. Recommend

  • med school student

    Very nice writeup !Recommend

  • kanwal

    @author
    I completely respect your choice and right to choose. I just hope you understand that by choosing this certain way of covering yourself, the general interaction with other people around you gets kind of broken. For example, i would love to see my child being taught by a woman whose face he can see and so get a better learning, just as if you were my workplace collegue, i would be uncomfortable to interact with you in depth. A superficial interaction might do but nothing beyond that. I think a lot of people will agree with this argument of mine:naqab (covering face) leads to hinderance in interactions with the person wearing it.
    Besides, i know girls who dont spend fortunes on looking sexed up and gorgeous, and still look nice in general. Looking good, not like a fashion model, is important for everyone, not just females. Recommend

  • doom

    Well! This is the first time I have heard of an explanation of why a woman chose purdah that I am able to understand. In this case, it is a feminist decision. A refusal to accept and conform to (a male-dominated) society’s idea of what a woman should look like.

    This is however very different from why women typically chose purdah. Most of the time (or so we think), women choose it to conform to a male-dominated Islamic society’s idea of what a pious woman should look like. But in this case it is an act of rebellion. Quite the opposite.Recommend

  • A W

    @deep:
    You are forgetting the core issue of freedom of choice. If she wants to cover up it’s her choice. If you don’t cover, someone might make an assumption that you have a loose character or that you are putting yourself on display for all and sundry. How would you like that?Recommend

  • A W

    @BlackJack: God did not made us do anything. Humans make their own choices. If God chose for them, He wouldn’t have given them choice about worshiping whoever they want. It’s the human mind that makes the minority in a population as more attractive to it. In a population of brown skinned people, fair skinned are more desirable.Recommend

  • A W

    @BlackJack:
    Trying to look good is not a crime. But flaunting your good looks to make anybody among your peers feel lesser is wrong. Live and let live! Recommend

  • enu

    wear it if you want but dont force it. and curb the attitude that usually comes with itRecommend

  • Muhammed Usama Aziz

    @BlackJack:
    Why did he make us find one kind more attractive than the other? I think that is where the root of the problem is – major defects in the manufacturing process :).
    Have u looked at your body? How your body functions? Have u considered waht is the purpose of each tiny part of body? Just remove your eyebrows and you see how your face looks like. Just consider you dont have thumb, then how do u perform daily tasks.
    If and only if you have gave a thought to your own body, you would have said thanks to GOD instead of saying that there are defects!Recommend

  • Parvez

    This write up is flawed on so many counts………………terrible.Recommend

  • abhi

    Correct, if a bird is inside a cage it will not have fear of being eaten by cat. God choice I say.Recommend

  • Rabia A

    ‘the veil for me is liberty.’ love it!Recommend

  • John B

    The article lost its merit when the author brought veil into the discussionRecommend

  • Fahad Raza

    People have eyes to react and keep distance whereas souls have insight to get close. Its doesn’t matter if one veils or unveils. What matters is how much patience one excersize in the face of hate. Recommend

  • doom

    @BlackJack and others:
    BUT the lady has a point and some liberals insist on being in attack-mode as soon as they see a hijaabi, and fall into hypocrisy.

    I found the author’s reasoning very similar to a certain type of feminist thinking. Remember feminists from a particular time who had started to wear manly clothes and cut their hair short? They did it because women conform to the male-dominated society’s idea of what a woman should look like. So those feminists rebelled to break the chain. This lady decided to throw a sheet on herself instead. Her reasons are not typical hijaab reasons which are about conforming and giving up. This article talks of veil as rebellion. The exact opposite.

    You sarcastically wrote “A woman who likes looking good is doing it because she is an empty-headed bimbo who has been brainwashed by society into dressing a particular way”.
    Except there is a great deal of truth in that. You clearly think wearing hijaab and purdah is extreme and difficult. Try plucking hair out from the root from every part of your body except your head. Then repeat every 2-3 weeks.

    Women who are truly un-oppressed would feel as comfortable as men do about how they look; and worry about and alter their appearance only as much as men do. Recommend

  • Go for it

    Hey,
    I would like to say that there are many misconceptions here because people are taking this so wrong…The blog is not about being a liberal woman(believe in yourself), or aversion to plastics(Hearty appetite anyone?), it’s about how advertising commercials play their role in promoting glamour among Women (Yes, that’s what the subject is) WOMEN, I might have taken this wrong too but if it’s about that, then I have a point.

    In economic terms, Commercials rose the demand of a product. If I would be a materialistic business man, I would definitely put in as much glamour as I could to make it appealing.

    Secondly, the word “Values” have not been challenged so far by the legal authorities in this era I guess in any country if it comes to earn money.

    Hope you got my point, if not, then here you go :
    For the lust of worldly riches and mundane glamour, people go for glamour>producers add them up>society get oversexed…the cause and effect relation is clearly seen, it’s US, who promote it and it’s US who at the very end of the day feels to be the worst sufferers.

    Thank youRecommend

  • http://gujrat RAW is WAR

    when you cover yourselves with a burqa, you are totally absent to the world. Nobody can call you women also- you do not exist.Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author “I wish we could just learn the simple lesson that human beings are more than the sum of all the clothes they wear.”

    Well many Muslim women claim hijab protects from Muslim men and brings them closer to God? Why do you wear Hijab if human beings are more than clothes?Recommend

  • Insaan

    @BlackJack:
    Hmm. A woman who likes looking good is doing it because she is an empty-headed bimbo who has been brainwashed by society into dressing a particular way – so says someone who clothes herself from head to toe in a cloak in the scorching heat because it apparently makes her feel good about herself. Both apparently like feeling hot in their own individual ways…..

    This is what I think

    Every one wants to look good, some people may over do it without realizing.. A woman wears burqa because she has been brainwashed by men that she can save herself from men and earn bonus points from God by covering herself.

    Now a days even some women claim that they do dress to please God. I wonder if God gets pleased by men’s dress.

    A tiger can be made into a pussy cat by putting fear of a man into his mind during his upbringing..Recommend

  • Raj Kafir

    Once I saw a movie…Bride of an Animator..this blog is nowhere near to the movie I mentioned..Recommend

  • Muhammad Irfan

    Blaming the media for building the pressure on women or even men for that matter might not be appropriate bcoz the media is practising their freedom..they r also businesses who would like to survive ..tht can only b done by attracting customers in any way possible…the onus is on us on how to deal wid the ads..if v feel v r too vulnerable..then v shud ditch thm completely..I mean not notice them at all..v can build tht self confidence over time…

    And as for the veil…OH MY Pakistani qaum…this is a blog..she is just writing how the veil has benefitted her..its her freedom….she is nt suggesting to enforce the veil on all women as a solution to this problem…Recommend

  • ABC

    In some parts of Pakistan I can see why there might be a need to wear a Burqa but in a Western country certainly not.

    One question to author. How do you stop the Burqa from being a security risk?? If I wear a mask and go to a bank or another important office I am sure security would require me to take of my mask. In a Burqa how do you know who is underneath?? Just a few days ago a woman in Britain got acid attacked by somebody in niqab and police have no idea who it was. In Islamic University bombing in Pakistan somebody hid the bomb in their Burqa. How do you stop these kind of incidents??Recommend

  • observer

    What makes a complete woman?

    A. Fair and Lovely and Hair Removing Cream.

    B. An all encompasing Veil.

    The choice is yours. Though the author recommends, I spend far less on my clothes, hair and makeup than most women in my income bracket.Recommend

  • Whateva

    http://www.ted.com/talks/cameronrusselllooksarenteverythingbelievemeima_model.html

    “I’m insecure because I have to worry how I look every day”- Cameron Russell. Recommend

  • Muhammad Irfan

    Blaming the media for excessive pressure on women or even men for that matter might not be appropriate because media is practising their freedom. They are companies who would like to survive by selling their products in anyway they want. If we feel we are vulnerable to these provoking ads, we can just ignore them…this wud create self confidence over time..you might stumble at times but eventually wud overcome this problem…

    As for the veil…OH MY PAKISTANI QAUM…she is just stating how veil has benefitted her…she’s not asking to enforce the veil on all women as a solution to this problem…LET HER PRACTICE HER FREEDOM OF SPEECH :)…..Recommend

  • Muhammad Irfan

    Sorry ..that repeat was a technical glitch :DRecommend

  • Ture Man

    Article was written beautifully. A lot of valuable comments were also added by readers. It is absolutely one’s wish to wear what he/she wants but as far as nature is concern you can not change it. Mindset of man is works differently than women. The way man thinks cant be thought by women and vice-versa, Its 95% true that a man always seeks lust when he sees women. Its a theory by Dr Sigmund Freud. So it entirely depends on women if she is permitting man for doing that. Woman notices if there is a dress repetition by their female-peers contrary man doesn’t remember what he wore today.Recommend

  • Milind

    “But then again, to be judged as more pious and holy than my veil-less counterparts is equally disconcerting.”

    The writer is trying to be clever here.. First she launches a tirade against the woman without burkha.. Then knowing the flak and stereotyping burkha-clad women receive, she is trying to steer clear of the religious aspect of the burkha with the above statement, in order to justify her choice.

    The test of her case would be the flexibility she exhibits during specific situations… A scantily clad billboard model, will readily agree to cover herself in casuals if she takes up a job as a newscaster or receptionist or even in a burkha at a religious gathering. Conversely, will the author discard her burkha if the situation or job profile demands it… I don’t think so.. Let’s not deny it… The author would like to cover herself for religious reasons, without being acknowledged for the same.

    The issue/stereotyping has more to do with the inflexibility exhibited rather than the burkha itself.Recommend

  • vexed

    One instant solution would be to put a blanket ban on the media. That should solve the issue , no?
    If a total ban is not possible, some pious-programmer should invent a computer program that blocks out excessive skin display on internet and possibly even TV.
    But then, hey- didn’t Google declare last year that Pakistan generated the Maximum porn-related search queries the world over in the past year? Hmm…maybe a jewish conspiracy[ Larry Page and Sergey Brin]Recommend

  • ABC

    Does the Burqa really prevent misogynistic attitudes in our society??

    I need to ask the author when a women brings a rishta for a girl in Niqab don’t they make her takeoff the niqab and parade her like cattle exactly like a non-Niqabi would be paraded in front of a rishta party?? A couple of my family members don Burqa and when they got married you wouldn’t believe some of the things the larkay walas would ask from hair length to skin color to what not. That’s just one example and there are many others.

    If God forbid a person in Niqab does not fit the beauty credentials for a guy they wouldn’t get married and same is the case with a non-Niqabi. Eventually women are reduced to using the same beauty products that you are so blatantly against.
    You cover yourself and by looking around Pakistan I can see why most women would for their safety but don’t kid yourself into thinking that you are changing the mentality of people in this society.

    In the end doesn’t matter whether you are a niqabi or a non-niqabi in our society because underneath all that you are still a women and in our society you will get judged very very superficially in some matters just for your gender. Recommend

  • http://na deep

    I have been told to respect a person’s choice of attire – but you need to draw a line between stifling traditions and human rights. Just as Sati or child marriage cannot be condoned on the basis of basic human rights, the act of a woman completely denying her individuality and a society that celebrates this act on the basis of some god forsaken tradition – have to be condemned. Dont give me the BS of being able to lead a normal life behind that cloak. It is far more liberating to lead your life like a normal niqabless person, giving a damn about society and their retrogressive judgements and empowering other women to do the same – rather your lofty message is cover up woman!! because that is the only way out. Recommend

  • Insaan

    I spend far less on my clothes, hair and makeup than most women in my income bracket, but I still feel like a woman.

    Are you implying there are women who feel like a “man” if they spend more money on clothes, hair and makeup?Recommend

  • Agneesa

    @BlackJack:

    There is no defect in manufacturing process, God made His creatures in perfect form (from perfect form I mean that every creature is made in the way it can do its duty rightly). If God has made all in one form then there would be a chaos. You may find some person attractive which may not be attractive to someone else. Try to see the reality instead of assuming ideal solutions. Recommend

  • Singh

    @abhi:
    Why can’t you trained your cat to live with bird. If cat try, it should be punish. Would you like to be caged. Pathetic thought. Recommend

  • Suvi

    Imagine an empowered successful professional woman giving a corporate presentation or working as a management consultant or heading operations of an MNC or leading cutting edge research conventions in a burqa…. Can you?Recommend

  • Spot on

    @Ayesha Pervez:
    Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Welcome to the being screwed over perpetually because you dont own a Y chromosome club!! We have cookies! Make yourself comfy!Recommend

  • Midhat

    Now here is an educated, intelectual feminist who chose to wear veil, yet people cant digest it!
    Its her life, her choice, and she sounds more sane minded than all these fake liberals fretting over it! Recommend

  • Fareed Ahmad

    Dear readers.. Is this your freedom of expression and level of tolerance?Recommend

  • LalaLand

    @deep:

    i think your comment is rather unfair, because i dont think any self-respecting nation with no laws dictated by the country on how to dress should be judgmental about somebody’s choice to cover up or the lack thereof. Further, your comment is misplaced, because it doesnt really have anything to do with the content of this article (i.e. on the pressures modern society places on women to conform), but seems to be only a personal attack on the writer.

    Additionally, your argument regarding sati and/or child marriage is flawed. These practices are perfectly distinguishable from the present situation because in those cases, you are inflicting HARM on another individual. A person dressing a certain way isnt depriving anyone else of a human right by inflicting suffering on them. Also, before you go off on a tangent, please note that no international law in place in any country of the world has a law which requires a person to protect his human rights from himself. See where you’re going wrong with this?

    I’m aware there are countries which ban the burka, but thats on an assumption that they are forced to wear it by their family members. And since there is no indication of that here, you are not being a supporter of women rights, but merely judgmental.

    I find it thoroughly ironic how people who are contemptuous or at the very least critical of the intolerance displayed by “religious” people are themselves sometimes the greatest personification of intolerance. Recommend

  • Midhat

    @Suvi:

    Few years back HR Manager of P&G came to our university. Guess what? She was not only wearing a head scarf but even had an abaya! A Successful, empowered professional of a big corporate organization! When there is enough matter in the head, it doesn’t matter whats on the head!Recommend

  • Umaimah

    Very important and ignored issue has been brought up by your post. Keep it up!Recommend

  • Bilal

    oh bohoo, cry me a river.Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    There is nothing as “ugly” in modern day … please get a good stylist, and groom yourself !!! style, clothes, perfume, manicure, waxing , personal hygiene, basic etiquette and speaking soft shall transform you from ugly to acceptable … trust me … you are not taking care of yourself !!!! Recommend

  • gp65

    Author : “In the context of all this, the Muslim veil takes on significance. For me, it has always meant a refusal to subject myself to judgement by a commercialised, oversexed society. It is immensely liberating from the pressure of having to conform to the social standard of how I ought to look.”

    By all means wear the veil if you like it. Do know that there are many people who do judge those that do not wear the veil. What would you then say to those who feel judged for not not wearing the veil?

    If someone was saying that they wanted to take their own life because someone was passing a judgmen on their looks they have basic self esteem issues which the veil will not liberate them from. And if conformance is what they crave do you think they are going to get conformity if they wear a veil in a Western country?

    TO sum up, wear what you like. DOn’t try to push the veil on others though. Just as you like freedom to be who you are, give others the same freedom.Recommend

  • Anam

    “It is a refusal to allow myself to be judged merely by how I look or what I wear, a refusal to be subjected to the lustful stare of an onlooker.”

    Hiding beneath a veil just to avoid being judged itself shows diffidence. Liberate yourself from the view point of others. Also “The best veil lies in the eyes of men.” Hadith.

    I am not coming back to read the replies, so dont bother.Recommend

  • nexus

    Great article! I agree with the pressure the females have to face in today’s society, esp when it comes to teenagers. Its sickening how we lay so much importance on appearance. Judge a person on what he/she is like rather than how he/she dresses. We all have become materialistic. As you can judge, there are many who have a hard time swallowing the fact you wear niqab… its a choice and I’m sure you are a great person, with or without niqab!Recommend

  • http://sameensadaf.blogspot.com sameen

    well written……….i can relate to what the author is saying having counselled many teenage girls and married women with the same complexes and issues………..this issue is not a new one……..the effect and results of the media have been quite subtle rendering many incapable of understanding the research and effort that actually goes into making them become what the policy makers want………..it doesnt end on how women dress…………it also encompasses the whole society………how ideas different from the majority are shot down by ideas owned and propogated by the captalist elite(minority), how bussinesses meant for the actual welfare of humnabeings are shut down, discouraged or bought out by bigger better and comercially profitable bussnisses………..how talent is replaced by connections and status etc and the list goes on and on…………BUT THE TRUTH ALWAYS FINDS A WAY TO BE HEARD………..TO BE UNDERSTOOD…..ppl who disagree with the role of media in propogating and succeeding in making such changes should read chomsky!Recommend

  • Muhammad Arsalan Butt

    MashaAllah. Nice work… It’s hard to find such Blogs on ET now a day’s. Recommend

  • A convert to Islam

    “But then again, to be judged as more pious and holy than my veil-less counterparts is equally disconcerting.”

    A veiled muslimah is most certainly more pious than the veil-less; as the Noble Qur’an (as well as several Hadiths) clearly states in the Ayat’s that this is obligatory for all women.

    Niqab is Sunnah, Hijab is Fard.Recommend

  • BachelorBoy

    That suppose to be another curse our mediocre society is following since the emergence of visual technology, Comparatively, of this modern and far more modest age of measuring things instead of seeing goodness in personalities, our Pakistani society is paying a lot in the shape of those pittyless vulnerablities, which ain’t supposedly conceived to b a curse on this Islamic, Family originated society, where people ain’t allowed to do free sex during their blooming days and bare illegitimate childs. Spontaneously extreme fallout of moralistic values from our Palistani society is carrying tons of filth and literoicities in it…Recommend

  • Insaan

    @A convert to Islam: A veiled muslimah is most certainly more pious than the veil-less; as the Noble Qur’an (as well as several Hadiths) clearly states in the Ayat’s that this is obligatory for all women

    In real life a Muslim veil less women can be more pious than a veiled one. A veil con’t control the mind or hormones of the women or men who look at her.

    Most Muslim women in US don’t wear veil or burqa, except some middle age converts to Islam.Recommend