Okay so I have a question in regards to Adena and her hijab. I am seeing some discourse in the muslim community about how she is not representing hijabi women correctly in that she is showing way too much skin, that skin mainly being her belly. Can you please give this person here, who has NO clue what the parameters are when choosing to wear a hijab, amd how I can ask it be better repped? Because I am all for representation being done, and being done as correctly as possible as need be.

Oh, huh. Okay, first, I’m going to answer this just from my perspective. I don’t speak for all of us, what goes for me might not go for other hijabis. (And yes, they don’t speak for all of us either, but it’s always better to err on the side of listening when people have concerns.)

You must already know that not all Muslim women are hijabis, right, some very devout women don’t wear a hijab, and in some cultures/families it’s practically mandatory, such that it doesn’t speak to the individual women’s choices. (And let’s just leave out the other coverings in this discussion.)

But, when you choose to wear it, as many of us do and as Adena does, then you’re choosing a certain level of covering (modesty). And yeah, it’s pretty unlikely that a hijabi would show a lot of skin.

I…didn’t really notice that as an issue, though? I guess because…we’re all so different, and even among the acceptable levels of covering, there’s still such a wide range of what people wear. I only wear full sleeves, I wear a hijab that comes down over my chest, I wear long loose kameez with shalwar or loose slack. But not all hijabis do that. Am I going to judge somebody for showing some of their arms? For wearing shirts or t-shirts? For wearing hijabs that are only wrapped around head and neck?

And then dress seems such a small part of it. She has tattoos, which aren’t super favorably looked upon in Islam. And there are Muslims, some hijabis, some not, who drink, who don’t keep to halal, who don’t pray, don’t fast, don’t pay zakat. My cousin got caught drinking and was practically disowned (for like a night, then his mom let him back in the house). I just don’t focus on that kind of thing anymore, not for other people.

And I guess when it comes to representation, I look at it in a different way? To me, representation is about visibility, intention, and reception. Something is being put up for people to see, why is it being put up, and what the takeaway is.

There are always two audiences for media representation, the group represented and the rest of the audience that uses it to form their opinions about that group. While this issue may have decreased the way people in the first group could identify with Adena as rep, at least for some, I don’t think there was any damaging message sent out? Nor was it really framed as how all hijabi lesbians behaved. So it wasn’t really bad representation to me. It wasn’t hurtful or a harmful stereotype.

Is it perfect representation? No, it could always be improved, and if there are hijabi lesbians who keenly feel this as a lack of care about them, then I hope it does get addressed. To me, intention matters because there’s a difference if creators are thinking of their audience vs want diversity cred, and with good intentions future improvement is possible. I hope it does get a chance to improve.