Not all Muslim women cover their bodies. Not all Muslim women who do are forced to do so. Like freelance writer Hanna Yusuf, who chooses to wear a hijab in a daily act of feminism.
In a new video for The Guardian, Yusuf challenges stereotypes by setting out to reclaim the choice to wear a hijab as "a feminist statement." Though Yusuf is not speaking for all hijabi women, she wants to make her own reasoning for covering up clear: "My hijab has nothing to do with oppression," Yusuf says.
Yusuf acknowledges the reality that in parts of the world, women are not afforded the same opportunity to choose for themselves whether to cover in public or not. But she urges people to stop "assuming that all veiled women are oppressed." Broad assumptions like these "belittle the choice of those who want to wear it," Yusuf says.
For Yusuf, wearing a hijab means rejecting "the message that women must be sexy but not slutty, stick-thin but still curvy, youthful but all natural." Yusuf is redefining what it means to be a woman by choosing to cover parts of her body instead of exposing them.
After all, as Yusuf says, "there’s nothing inherently liberating in covering up, just as there’s nothing inherently liberating in wearing next to nothing. But the liberation lies in the choice."
Hijab or hat, burka or bathing suit -- women should be able to express themselves through whatever clothes they choose to wear.