Some might think that dressing modestly in a hijab or abaya, might preclude being fashionable. But don’t tell that to the Samara sisters.
Aateka and Marwa Samara are fashion-bloggers from Franklin, Wisconsin. Their Instagram blog is aptly named “The Samaras” and since it’s launch last August, it’s gained more than 19,000 followers. It features photos of the women in everyday life; going to museums or having brunch in their unique fashions.
“We’ve started this just to kind of give role models to girls and give them something that’s part of their culture but that also can be mainstreamed. Something that they can relate to, and girls that they can relate to as well as stay true to their culture and their religious background,” says Marwa.
Marwa’s own experience growing up in the U.S. inspired her desire to be a role model for young, Muslim women. Like many girls her age, Marwa’s role models were women like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. The Samara sisters want their blog to be a place that helps make modest fashion more accessible and mainstream.
Dressing modestly in the U.S. can be difficult for reasons beyond mainstream acceptance. American clothes are often tailored to be form-fitting, with higher hemlines and lower necklines. The Samara sisters have learned to make creative clothing choices to stay true to their faith while still being fashionable.
“I see a shirt that we wouldn’t consider modest, but I like it and I just think, ‘Challenge accepted, let’s make it work,’” says Aateka.
The Samaras plan to launch a larger blog to communicate with fans in a more intimate way. They’re hoping to open up conversations about Muslim culture and the concept of modest fashion, which is relatively new.
“I think it’s still a new territory, modest fashion,” says Marwa. “It’s a territory that people don’t get, it’s a territory that a lot of… conservative Muslims believe to not be part of the religion. So it’s just something new for people,” she says.