I grew up in an Arab household in the Midwest. I grew up in a community where we all knew each other. I went to an Islamic school since 6Th grade and through high school. We had to wear a uniform during school, so very little opportunity for creativity. So, when the weekend came it felt like freedom to finally wear whatever I wanted! It felt so precious, yet so temporary. But, that all changed when I went to college.. In college, I had a culture shock. Everything was so different for me and I was not surrounded by Muslims anymore.
I didn’t have my circle, I didn’t even have my friends with me…I was alone. I still remember the feeling I had in my first class, and the idea of not knowing who the person who sat next me was. I remember that feeling like it happened yesterday. The college I went to barely had any Muslims either. I knew then that I had to represent Islam in a way that I felt was needed. I felt that everyone thought of me in a particular way because of my Hijab and I wanted to show them that I am not any different from them. I hated the feeling of being different. I hated how I could see how people treated me vs my fellow classmates. I felt people thought of me as foreigner because I wore a scarf… I felt people avoided me because of my Hijab, that people would rather not make a friend who looked like me. THAT is when I started really focusing on fashion. I wanted people to know that I was born and raised in the U.S. from just looking at me. I felt I had a responsibility to represent Islam in a way that people could relate to.
I never thought I would have that feeling in me until I was put in a situation where I needed to start all over again. I needed to make new friends in college since all my friends in high school either left the state or we just grew apart. I just knew that I needed to make an impression that represented me in a proper way. I never went to college in sweat pants, or without jewelry. At that time, there was no such thing as influencers or places that focus solely on selling modest clothing. I had to work extra hard to represent myself the way I wanted and the way I wanted others to follow. That is how my journey started… and it definitely didn’t stop there. That was my beginning in the fashion world that would later become my sanctuary.
Looking back at my younger self, I wish I could tell her that it was all going to be okay and you didn’t have to feel that burden. You do not have to prove yourself to anyone but yourself!