Ridiculous is the new black


We’re shopping for attire that will be suitable for Fiona in Pakistan and Iran. That means tunics that cover the butt and elbows, as well as headscarves. Fiona is bothered that I don’t have to cover up in the same way. “But won’t they be distracted by your sexy elbows?” she asks. I imagine they will.

One of the challenges is that the garments are neither cut, nor coloured to Western tastes. Wearing long, baggy stuff for cultural reasons is one thing. But wearing stuff that is totally ridiculously coloured is another. You can see from the picture that we were struggling to find something subdued. Fiona found one tunic that works well enough. Hopefully there will be more in Pakistan.

We’ve been searching for reference points by watching closely what the young Kashgari women wear. There’s quite a variety: headscarves like bandanas, or more what we imagine as more classically Muslim; tight long pants versus long flowing skirts; sequins everywhere imaginable. We’re left with a lot more questions than answers: is clothing just a fashion statement, or an indication of how devout/conservative you or your family is? Do young women just suddenly turn up to school one day head-scarved when their family considers it appropriate? Or is it more like high school ball dates when one day no one has one and the next everyone does? How must it feel to be the last girl in your friend group whose parents want them to cover up?

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