Friday, 7 December 2007

You Look Phat!

That could be misinterpreted in more ten ways, especially if the person saying it to you did not write it out on a piece of paper and hold it over her head. And even worse, it would bring on more than ten mood swings within seconds!

It's not phat to be fat. Magazines grace stalls by your walk way; advertisements skinny dip on your tv set; bill boards spin heads while you drive. It's not phat to be fat. Skinny is the deal. Skinny is beautiful. Thin is neat. Thin is in. It's not phat to be fat.

That's what aesthetics shout out today. Dieting, looking good in clothes, a body without lumps, bumps, backs and fronts, are what beauty manufacturers are screaming out to women nowadays. They have capitalised on that fear of being a little overweight. One too many curves will cause a whirlwind of headaches. It's not phat to be fat.

How do these beauty gurus empower women who feel depressed, upset and even a little sad about the little bulge called a belly; the extra kilo called age; and that extra skin called skin?

They empower us with diet pills, diet shakes, tummy trims and other fancy frills. In the plight to be skinny, many of us, once in a while, fall prey to the jingle of tablets and to the fizz of a flab burner shake.

It happens, but it should not. If you listen a little closer to the jingle and the fizz, you would learn that there are stories behind the tablet and the drink. Some are not very nice and some are quite dangerous.

Know that these diet supplements are not all approved by your health ministry or authority. Know that these diet supplements could contain far more medication than approved supplements (such as multivitamins) to speed up favourable results. Know that these diet supplements hack away at your insides, they erode your body to allow you to slim down to the figure of a 1. Know that these diet supplements may affect your liver due to their high content of chemicals, and your liver may not be able to process them. Know that these diet supplements can act as a silent time-bomb in your body, waiting to explode when time is most unlikely. Know that these diet supplements can cause cancer.

We are born into this world that is laced with beauty. A new mother embraces the beauty of her child. When friends and family come a-calling, their comments let the word slip and slide.
But as the baby grows up, the word is used less and less... and is more callously defined by the people around her.

It's not phat to be fat. Teenagers fall prey to anorexia and bulimia around the world. There is so pressure to be thin and to stay thin. There are too many "friends" keeping a close eye on how they look in their skinny clothes.

But wanting to be thin is one thing, wanting to be healthy is another.

It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and it is generally accepted that obesity represents an unhealthy lifestyle. But it is untrue that skinniness should be associated with good health. A woman who is slightly overweight but is a happy and confident person is healthier than a woman who is severely underweight and feels compelled to keep up with the trends.

If you feel that you are overweight (which most of us do) and feel like shedding a few pounds, whatever you do, stay away from diet pills. They are harmful and harm is unlawful in Islam. Instead, respect your body and take care of it the healthy way.

Exercise, exercise, exercise - a good workout gets your body working and burns off calories effectively. You do need to exercise, not only to lose weight to be build up stamina, ward off illnesses and to essentially live longer.

Also, observe a good diet. Steam food rather than fry; grill your meals rather than buy. Take control over what you eat.
Keep your fridge stocked with fresh vegetables that you can chop up as a salad and plenty of fresh fruits when you need to snack. Eat a balanced diet with a colourful array of protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals. Eat well during breakfast to ward of hunger pangs that lead to bingeing. Have a light early dinner and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Your body deserves this. You deserve it.

You will feel better, lighter and more energetic.

So, it is not phat to be fat - but it is not wise to be unhealthy and fall prey to vulture advertising that so-called beauty gurus impose on the insecurities of women.
And as for skinny clothes - :) - alhamdulillah, Islam provides for this too - wear Hijab, love Hijab and live Hijab - be the confident, healthy and happy Muslimah, Allah intended you to be. You will look phat!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Hijab Fashion Shows - What do these say about Hijab?

Islamic fashion shows are becoming popular in some Muslim countries as well as the West. Many of them feel compelled to demonstrate what an Islamic dresscode entails. It's true, models are dressed up in different forms of hijab - where the model is covered from head to toe, save for their faces and hands.

Fashion designers use different fabrics, colour and cuts to display a full hijabi attire that Muslim women are allowed to wear in public. However, not all fabrics, colour and cuttings adhere to Islamic ruling. Some fabrics are transparent, displaying inner garments of the model, which are clingy or body-fitting. Though there is no general restriction on colour in Islam - some designers combine colours of their outfits, or emphasise highly on one fluorescent colour - defying the whole purpose of Hijab - which is set out NOT to attract attention. Some fittings are a cut too tight and show off the Muslim woman's figure. Though these types of clothing are not appropriate for a Muslim woman when in the presence of non-Mahrams, she is allowed to wear them in the comfort of their her own home - with her Muslim sisters and Mahram brothers in Islam.

So, if Islamic fashion shows comply completely with Islamic rulings, are they allowed? Sheikh Mohamed El-Moctar El-Shinqiti, director of the Islamic Center of South Plains, Lubbock, Texas still says "no."

With models walking up and down the catwalk with an array of spectators gliding their eyes all over them commenting on their "appearance", there is nothing really to be modest about. Hijab disallows and disencourages non-Mahram men from looking at women and requests them to question their faith and modesty when in the vicinity of non-Mahram sisters. Modesty and shyness is no longer an element of Hijab if it is being paraded around by models, who need to use their appearances as the core element of their career. And in general, most models do not even observe Hijab in their daily lives.

Muslim fashion designers therefore, are required to find alternate creative means in promoting their work. In fact, they should look into the more "religious" aspect of Hijabi clothing rather than prey upon the aesthetics and materialism that Islamic fashion shows entail.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Who do you respect?

There are many interpretations of a woman wearing Hijab and plenty of misconceptions.

One important representation of a Hijabi woman is the fact that she wishes to be respected. Respect in today's world has very much to do with seniority and / or hierarchy. We tend to find that we need to respect people who are smarter than us, those who are older, more qualified or have more experience. We feel we need to respect men and women who demonstrate leadership skills, those who are higher-paid, those who have been around alot longer. They all command respect.

But why? Is it because we feel inferior to them - that they are better than us in certain skills, more knowledgeable than us in certain fields, drive a bigger car, live in a nicer duplex? Maybe they do reserve your respect. Maybe...

However, how do they command your respect - is it through haughtiness, dictatorship, arrogance, snootiness, the bling-bling of their sportscar's headlights as they wave goodbye to you while you are waiting in line for a bus?

It is easy to fall into the trap of respecting and looking up to someone because he or she is smarter, richer, more experienced, better looking or more qualified than we are. Having said that, of course, some of these smarter, richer, more experience, better looking, more qualified do deserve our respect - because there is another way of gaining respect from another person.

It is through modesty. A sincere conversation, being an active listener. Genuinely caring about another person. Displaying humility that any haughtiness of just by being smarter or richer than the next person does not affect you - rather it has an adverse effect on you - that you truly believe you would be the same person without all those qualities. You feel thankful and grateful for what you have and who you have become.

The same goes for a woman in hijab. Not only is her dress a representation of modesty. She values herself for the person she is without imposing herself on others. Muslims respect Sisters who respect themselves by adhering to the guideline of hijab.

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Hijab Haven is not responsible for apparel in external sites. Not all outfits fulfill the Hijab requirement when in the presence of non-Mahram men. As a reminder, please use them responsibly.