I've just frittered away several hours watching ladies on YouTube tie hijaab.

I am unqualified to comment on the appropriateness of wearing headscarves to express solidarity with Muslim women. My childhood was WASPy as, aside from the fact that my parents are vehemently secular. Instead of being too lazy to go to one church on a weekly basis, we were industriously committed to not going to all of them. I used to wear a scarf wound around my head to keep the snow out of my hair in Flagstaff, and got honked at by redneck chucklefucks, but that's as far as I've ever gone.

If you ever had any doubt that people everywhere are fundamentally the same, let me dispel it by pointing out that those headscarves are fashion pieces. They're no different than any of the clothes you go shopping for. "The Man" makes you wear pants when you leave the house, but you get to pick the pants, and for the most part you try to pick pants that make you look like a competent, attractive human being, who is paying a reasonable amount of attention to society. Thus it is with hijaab.

How do you tie a hijaab, you ask? Any way you want, as it turns out. There are different styles in different places, popular among different groups. The turban-y ones seem to mainly be big in Africa and India, depending on technique, and the fluttery, drapey ones are more from the Middle East. Like any other strain of fashion, the idea has sort of mutated over the years to involve foundation garments and accessories and tricks to make it look like bits of it are defying gravity.

Typically, you start off with a "bonnet", a cap made of jersey knit. Some of them just cover the hair, others go all the way down the neck like a cowl; which you wear depends on your personal standards of modesty and preference. You can either wear a black/neutral one so it stays hidden under the scarf, or wear the crazy color of your choice and let the edge peek out as a detail. The bonnet is important, both because it makes sure you stay covered if the scarf comes apart, and because the way you keep all the pretty swooshes in place is by cheating like a mad cheaty thing, and pinning them to your undercap. You can get special no-snag hijaab pins, apparently, but most of the tutorials just use safety pins or small brooches to keep the scarf pinched together beneath your chin or at the nape of your neck, and straight pins to tack the rest of it in place.

[The no-snag pins look useful as hell, incidentally. Most of the straight pins are just sewing pins on the longish side, but some of them are beaded or decorated à la old-fashioned hat pins. The glittery jewelry sometimes draped across the scarf is a head chain, which is exactly what it sounds like; you buy purpose-crafted ones, or just use straight pins to keep a necklace swooping down where you want it. The big flashy pieces that come straight down the forehead between the brows, or dangle down the sides of the wrapped scarf are either 1) teeka, so named for their resemblance to the painted Indian forehead designs, or 2) chandelier-drop earrings, with the ear wire poked through the weave of the scarf.]

There are also hijab fashion trends. I am amused to note that one of them involve wearing a giant scrunchie -- usually called a hijab clamp or flower clip -- around your bun or ponytail beneath the bonnet, to make it look like you have an absolutely colossal amount of hair pinned up underneath your scarf. They work pretty much like those hair donuts (or the homemade alternative, rolled up socks with the toes cut off) that westerners use to fake big fat hair buns like the one I actually have. If that doesn't sound silly enough, some women have taken to using those Bumpit things instead. It's called Khaleeji  ("of the Gulf") style, which sounds suspiciously like something from Game of Thrones.

The trend is mainly associated with young mallrats from the wealthy parts of Kuwait, so of course it's been condemned as immoral harlotry. Religious leaders have picked out a few favorite passages from the Qu'ran and quote them repeatedly as proof that young women with poofy hijaab humps are going to Hell, in a brilliant shaming tactic that has never been used by anyone else anywhere ever.

The measurements of hijaab vary, but they generally seem to be 2-3 feet wide and 5-8 feet long. Your average $5 street cart "pashmina" would be just about right. You can find a slew of tutorials on YouTube. I'm most entertained by ones like this, wherein someone patiently works on a stationary model, creating a painstakingly picky pleated design, held in place with a bazillion pins, that no one in their right mind would ever bother to reproduce at home. The bearing and movements of the person with the pins says to me that they are a professional stylist, and the lady in the neon pink and black abayya is going to be wearing that elaborate fantasy creation in a photoshoot somewhere. I've been the bored person in the chair before, they were just working with my actual hair instead of a wad of silk chiffon.


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