Double Standards in Fashion

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Refinery29; Twitter/@sime2jannah; Tik Tok 

By Trianne Hontiveros 
Published February 02, 2022

Head accessories have been in the fashion world for the longest time. From the versatile baseball cap to the classic French beret— any form of head covering is something not unheard of. But why does it seem as if wearing a head covering is a privilege? Why is it that only some people can do so confidently, without shame nor fear? 
 
Confused? One must question, how come? Why ask this absurd question? Of course, anybody can wear head coverings. 
 
Unfortunately, not in this world. Due to recurring events, it appears that when a POC wears a form of head covering, especially for religious purposes or simply just because why not? They are more often than not, subjected to racism, judgment, and even hate crimes. On the other hand, when a non-POC wears it, they can wear it without fear or judgment. They are often praised, seen as “trendy” and can easily go down as a “fashion icon”. 
 
All throughout fall and winter of 2021, the Balaclava has taken storm all throughout TikTok and Instagram. Originating from eastern Europe, the balaclava was showcased in western media from multicolored ones to ones with cat or bunny ears, one can not have seen one pop up on their ‘For You Page’. The fashion trend received backlash on just how hypocritical the idea of the trend was. Tiktoker Maliha (@malihaness) points out, “if you are a black, young man, it is called a hood and you can get murdered by the cops. If you’re a Muslim woman, you can get hate crimed.” 
 
Maliha refers to the many stories of racial injustice. One, in particular, is the tragic story of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black male, who regularly volunteers at an animal shelter, and has even taught himself violin to play to the stray cats. McClain was simply walking home from a convenience store on Aug. 24, 2019, when someone called 911, saying he “looked sketchy” and was wearing a ski mask and waving his arms. 
 
Though McClain had not committed a crime, officers immediately restrained him, he was then put under the carotid hold until he lost consciousness and was delivered ketamine. Bodily stress and the dose of unnecessary ketamine led to McClain’s unfortunate death. 
 
Elijah McClain died simply because he subjectively “looked sketchy” wearing a ski mask. His main reason for wearing it was the fact that he was anemic, therefore needed the article of clothing to keep his face warm–much like the main purpose of a balaclava. The only thing differentiating people who get arrested or die from wearing it, between those who get to wear it without fear of death is the mere fact of racism. 
 
Similarly, and recently, Instagram users flooded the comment section of the world-renowned fashion magazine, French Vogue slamming the post as “hypocritical” when they posted a photo of actress Julia Fox wearing a black headscarf as an accessory for a seemingly chic Parisien outfit. French Vogue then captions the photo: “Yes to the headscarf!” 
 
This comment came shortly after the French government passed another hijab ban where officials voted in favor of banning women from wearing the hijab while competing in sports. Now, surely French Vogue has no control over government but the post was simply a slap in the face for the almost 4 million Muslim women and men living in France. It blatantly shoves the idea that only non-Muslims can wear a headscarf and be praised without the fear of a person ripping it off their heads, or getting screamed at. 
 
The blatant hypocrisy. Basically saying yes to the headscarf ONLY if you are non-muslim. People may say the comment did not mean it as such. But the fact that it is coming from French Vogue, the face of fashion, an icon. It says a lot. It should not be reminded that the magazine not only represents the fashion industry but France as a whole. Due to the responses the post got, French Vogue deleted the initial sentence praising the headscarf but kept the post. 
 
The duality of the fashion trend is evident. Not everyone can add a simple headscarf, hat, or even hood to their outfit without either being shamed or praised. Unfortunately. 

But it doesn’t have to stop there. The more awareness, the more knowledge everyone has leads further to change being done. It may seem far, but awareness is already a step ahead. 

Chou, Chloe, and Priyanka Kapadia. “The Humble Headscarf Is 2021's Chicest Accessory.” Vogue India, Vogue India, 6 Sept. 2021, https://www.vogue.in/fashion/content/the-humble-headscarf-is-2021s-chicest-accessory

Khatun, Nasima. “French Vogue Slammed for Instagram Post Praising Julia Fox's Headscarf.” MVSLIM, 31 Jan. 2022, https://mvslim.com/french-vogue-slammed-for-post-praising-julia-foxs-headscarf/

 

Tompkins, Lucy. “Here's What You Need to Know about Elijah Mcclain's Death.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 June 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/article/who-was-elijah-mcclain.html.