After examining the website content, it appears that although many of the Muslim women represented have extensive strengths and values; “celebrating” these through a fashion lens seems very token and shallow.
In a world where the concept of fashion often does more harm to women than good – renowned for objectifying women and fuelling insecurities, it seems absurd that faith and fashion can be used together to affirm positivity. Despite whatever good intentions may have been at play to broaden an understanding of Muslim women and Islam, focusing on the fusion of faith and fashion in Muslim women not only seems like an oxymoron, but seems to reinforce a stereotypical focus of Muslim women as the representatives and “flag-bearers” of Islam, and by so doing, sharpens the focus of an already narrow spotlight on Muslim women in Australia and the west. Women represented so intimately with fashion seems like an incompatible concept with faith.
Why can’t we have an exhibition where women’s strengths, values and contributions were celebrated beyond their physical image. Such an exhibition would show respect for Muslim women rather than contributing to their further marginalization from mainstream society and thereby reinforcing their separateness.
Appreciation of the contributions of muslim women alongside would make for a much more positive and powerful exhibition and could start to create some real change and understanding of an often misunderstood other.
How sad that something as spiritual as faith can be so directly associated with fashion. The fashion industry is one of the perils of modern day culture, a culture that often tells women (and now men), that they’re only as meaningful as they appear. Do we really want our daughters and sons growing up in a world that tells them that their sense of self worth lies in how they look? Do we really want our children growing up in a world where striking a pose in a fashionable garment is seen as a positive representation for women to aspire to?
Faith, Fashion, Fusion feels like an ego stroke to Muslims in order to win an audience of visitors who are comfortable with pretty things they can look at. It safe- looking at the fish bowl, and thus too naive to create real understanding and respect. It seems we’ve got a long way to go before that will happen.