TEHRAN, IRAN STREETSTYLE: DETAILS, DETAILS

While simultaneously working on researching the politics of fashion in Iran for my B.A. thesis this past month or so, I’ve been able to take my camera with me while absent-mindedly wandering the streets of Iran (apparently this is called something along the lines of being frightfully lost, but, details…). I’ve dropped a few hints here and there on my social media and a few interviews I’ve done these past few weeks, but I guess it’s time to officially announce on JooJoo Azad that I’m working on publishing (the first of its kind!) Tehran Streetstyle photo collection book! I’m rather thrilled and I really can’t wait to share it with you all!

The book will begin pre-sale in less than three weeks (!!!!), so be sure to subscribe to my email list (you like rarely get emails from me so it’s definitely worth it!) and follow along on Instagram (@hodakatebi) to be one of the first in line to grab your book/get more behind-the-scenes/outtake shots! 

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These are just some outtakes + detailed shots, but I really can’t wait to share the final product with you! xx Stay tuned!

P.S. If you're as excited as I am and would love to share this book with your friends and family, I have a few affiliate opportunities--please shoot me an email asap! 

<(')

5 FACTS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THE CLOTHES ON YOUR BACK (BUT TOTALLY SHOULD)

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1. DISCOUNT STORES AREN’T REAL | Sorry to break it to you like this (usually I would at least bring tea and stuff), but outlet malls claiming to sell you designer products are really just selling you lower-quality products—which were most likely not even produced at the same factories as the originals. Jezebel writes:

 “The jig is up: Big brands like J. Crew, Gap, and Saks’ Off 5th aren’t selling you discounted or out of season merchandise at their outlet locations. You’re just buying lower quality cardigans and patterned pants” (they just have the logos to make you think you're getting a "deal").

Why is this relevant? Now you really can’t justify all those extra trips to the outlet mall/TJMaxx/etc to buy “bargains.” You’re buying low-quality products and exploited labor. (How else could the prices be so cheap?) (Oh and P.S. I’m also not letting you justify shopping at the original J.Crew or GAP store, either—they are on our Boycott List! I’m letting you justify limiting your spending in general ;) )
  
2. FAST FASHION ISN’T MADE TO LAST LONG | Alright this one might come as a huge shocker to you, (are you ready for this?) but fast-fashion brands really like this thing called profits. Like, a lot. So much so that they purposely use the cheapest production method (read: exploitation + unfair wages, poor quality materials, etc) in order to a) be able to convince you to buy lots of things (omg! so cheap!! *grabs 10*) and b) need to continually buy lots of things. The faster your clothes fall apart, the faster you’re going to want a replacement. Or 10. The solution? Think quality over quantity. Adopt a minimalist wardrobe.

3. WHAT YOU’RE WEARING IS FILLED WITH LEAD | Okay a bit dramatic (blame the Persian in me). I should add a “probably” in there. In any regard, the facts still stand: the Center for Environmental Health declares that many popular house-hold fast-fashion brands such as Forever21 and Charlotte Russe continue to produce products in mass that fail to meet their safety standards for lead p.p.m. (which is already generously high). This is particularly important for women who are planning on giving birth, as lead likes to store itself in our bones and, during pregnancy, come out to play with our fetus, which could be potentially harmful. Lead concentration also seems to be higher in bright, shiny products. (Sort of explains Dory’s forgetfulness in Finding Nemo, doesn’t it?) 

4. HUMANS (& THE ENVIRONMENT) WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING | There are still millions of slaves working behind the scenes throughout the world—in fact, according to Slaveryfootprint.org, today we have more slaves than we’ve ever had at any other point in time in history! So that’s, like insane. We can thank the fashion industry for playing its part in keeping slavery alive and well. And to be frank, we can thank ourselves too. We are so disconnected with the production process, it’s hard to fathom that hundreds of humans are behind every piece of clothing that we see. Most of which are living in unbearable living conditions—and many others are living but not alive. But we need to continually strive to remind ourselves and our friends and family of this. Boycotting brands and limiting our consumption is incredibly important. Now more than ever.

5. CLOTHES DON’T DISAPPEAR WHEN YOU THROW THEM OUT | Okay you probably knew this one. But the way that we act makes it seem like we forget that clothes, when out of sight, aren’t out of existence. According to The Atlantic, on average, Americans throw away 10.5 million tons of clothing every. single year.  Can’t we just think about this for a minute? That is a ton. No, actually 10.5 million tons, to be precise. And guess what? Thanks to our current uber-capitalist society, we have become addicted to consuming and therefore this number is only rising. Clothes don’t disappear. Remember that next time you go shopping.

Frustrated? Do something about it. Boycott. Consume less. Educate yourself and others. Convert your closet to a minimal wardrobe. Limiting your spending in a capitalist society is a revolutionary act in itself. 

The fact that you’re reading this right now means that you at least sort of give a damn (or just like visiting my site and making me happy (thanks!)) in which case, change really starts with you. If you don’t take charge of your consumption then who will? Next time you are thinking about heading out for a shopping trip, keep these 5 things in mind~

<(') 

P.S. If you are missing the more regular posting and say down with Slow Blogging (too bad because I love it) you can join me in my research of the Iranian fashion scene on my Instagram! (@hodakatebi)

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original image via Simon Freund

WHAT DOES JIHAD REALLY MEAN?

One of the most-asked questions I’ve received since opening up the blog for questions: What is this thing—Jihad—that are causing Muslims around the world to be violent in the name of holy war?

Heh, okay, let’s break it down, shall we? It’s really quite simple, and probably not what you’ve heard on your television screens. 



Jihad means “struggle.” Nothing more, nothing less.
A struggle with oneself internally, a struggle against injustice, a struggle against tyranny.

Jihad does NOT mean, on the other hand holy-war-against-so-called-infidels-that-all-Muslims-are-supposed-to-do-so-Christians-should-be-scared-of-their-Muslim-neighbors-and-kill-recent-college-graduates-over-a-supposed-parking-spot.
Yeah. How about not.

While my neighbors are still probably scared of me and my family regardless (gotta love the racism in the south!), I think it’s important to note that we Muslims are in fact quite friendly (and dare I say quite dashing). But let’s not get too off topic for once.

There are really two types of Jihad: internal and external.
The greatest/major Jihad mentioned in the Qur’an (the Muslim holy book) is the internal struggle with ones full self and soul in order to constantly self-improve: continually stand up for justice, become more truthful and sincere, and overcome vices and weaknesses. It involves a transformation of one’s character, overcoming an obstacle, and deep self-reflection. This is the Jihad that you don’t really hear about in mainstream news yet serves as the greatest Jihad for Muslims.    

What you do hear, on the other hand, and quite over-excessively, is the mention of the external “Jihad of the sword.” This jihad, or struggle, is not described with the same level of value or importance than jihad an-nifs (Jihad of the self) has within the Qur’an. This Jihad is in reference to using violence—if absolutely necessary—in order to overthrow injustice. Today in mainstream media this is taken out of context (surprise, surprise) and therefore is an incorrect understanding of what the term really means.
This external Jihad is used in the Qur’an in the context of the time when Muslim communities were being attacked on all sides (think: the crusades (these were of course much later but you get the point)) and needed to defend itself. But the key here is that this is not the same as an unprovoked aggression or holy war that western media makes it out to be.
External Jihad is mentioned in the Qur'an in a highly particular and specific context from which it should not be separated. 

Of course, as any part of any text, there are the select few nutcases that misinterpret what they read (or just hear), and, coupled with their own personal insanity and pressures, crack. Think: ISIS. Think: Israeli Zionsim. Think: France banning headscarves in schools aka taking away rights in the name of religious freedom.

But I think you’ll be glad to know that most Muslims (well I say all Muslims as ISIS or the Saudi Arabian government, for example, don’t count as real Muslims, technically speaking according to the Qur’an) understand the true meaning of Jihad. So much that some of us (Muslims cooler than me, clearly) made a hashtag (#MyJihad) about it.
And a neat-o website that I just discovered.
If you’re still confused/would like testimonials + examples please feel free to take full advantage of the above hyperlinks. ^_^


I know this was a large chunk of text to get through and mostly just a simple overview, so if you have any follow-up or clarification questions, please don't hesitate to ask! Or, if this sparked any other non-related-to-Jihad-which-you-now-know-is-actually-basically-a-peaceful-thing questions, feel free to ask in the comments below! 

This week I finally get to move to Tehran, start my research, shoot some streetstyle, and work on some really exciting projects! Can’t wait to share everything with you on this space! (And Instagram!)

<(') 



Special thanks to Tahir, my university’s spiritual advisor and friend for helping me with the deets of this question. :) 

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WHY I SAY NO TO "FLATTERING" CLOTHES

Open almost any magazine or fashion publication today and you'll be able to find the "right" clothes “for your body shape,” using various fruit and vegetable analogies to feign a level of politeness: are you a pear or an apple this time? 

This post basically is here to say that this is all just a bunch of B.S, and why we need to move past the conception of "flattering" clothes. 

Concession: as a thin and oh-so-slightly above average height (I’d like to think so) petite girl, I’m speaking from a place of privilege. Who am I to tell the rest of the fruits and vegetables of the world that they should embrace the bodies that the rest of society refuses to do? (Sure, I've experienced ostracization as a Muslim woman in the USA, but never because of my figure). So, I'd like to admit my privilege in this conversation and put it out there for you to consider while reading this.
(But that doesn’t mean stop reading—you’re not off the hook just yet)

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Photo via Refinery29

Alright. Still with me? You’re great.
The conception that we should constantly be buying “flattering” clothes is based on a standardized idea of what beauty is—and, therefore, what it is not. The thin white girl with the curves in the right places and a waist you can put a keychain around still takes home the cake (but, of course, she just can’t eat it)—and flattering clothes are media’s conceptions of what can bring you closer to this ideal.
And I quote.

“Oval-shaped women hold most of their excess weight around the middle [thanks for that discovery, Sherlock]…chances are you have a good-sized bust so there are plenty of ways to draw the eye away from the waistline”

Yeah, um, how about not.

It seems we’ve (a “we” that is rooted in the patriarchy, btw…as is the oppression of women globally but just blamed on Islam…) become all too comfortable on giving women orders on how to dress and what to look like. In focusing all of our attention on outward appearances, of course it’s what is most important (aka character & intellect) that is often forgotten to cultivate. (All part of the patriarchy’s master plan, ladies).

Using “flattering” as a rubric for dress, us women are pushed to squeeze our waists and pump our rear ends (or whatever the kids are doing these days) in order to perpetuate society's conception of ideal beauty--a conception that women must consistently strive for but will never reach. Certain jeans are off-limits to tomatoes or styles of dresses for carrots--all because it won't help you mold and hide parts of your body that are hindering you from reaching that golden bar of beauty.  
But reaching (and breaking) the glass ceiling is far more important, I think.

Of course, definitely not insinuating here that we should all go out and run around in paper bags, or even to stop wearing things that "fit," but rather to reinterpret and redefine your style based on what makes you personally feel wonderful and confident so you can take on the world. (Like these wardrobe essentials). It's not what makes your waist 2 sizes smaller that is important than what lets you move past a society that encourages women to be obsessed with fitting rubrics. 
On JooJoo Azad we're also moving forward together on a minimal wardrobe project in order to lessen our attachment to, and dependence on, material goods (clothing) in general as a preoccupation of our lives. 

TL;DR: Screw society's standards of beauty. Wear whatever makes you personally happy and confident. Wear what defines you as a person, not hides you as an object.

<(‘)


P.S. This post was inspired by me trying to be productive in a 12hr layover in Dusseldorf (…for a flight to Hamburg…even though I probably could have walked there in 12 hours…) and thinking about my upcoming research in Iran. If you’re also interested in women’s bodies as the center of politics (via fashion, of course), stick around because I’ll be sharing some findings on this space!

P.P.S Not into words? Then follow along on Instagram or Snapchat (@hodakay)! 


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WHY I'VE JOINED THE SLOW BLOGGING MOVEMENT

I feel like blogging has fallen into the capitalist mode of production: quantity over quality. Keywords and numbers of reasons why someone should do something* are systematically slapped together, materials of which were ripped off another blogger's stolen work. Titles manipulated to disguise the lack of words, only aimed at growing pageviews and followers, rather than readers.

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Can't say that I hadn't tried it out myself once or twice, just as everyone wants to play in capitalists' game of fast-fashion--hey, we all love immediate albeit temporary satisfaction for little cost--fast-blogging seemed a guarantee to  a quick fix on feeling successful. A couple silly posts hit record pageviews but left me with few reader relationships and fewer time on my own hands left to work on projects that inspired me. I invest (quite a bit of) time (whatever little I have as a university student aka expert procrastinator) into every blog post, and after an academic quarter/2.5 months of committing to blogging every other day (& failing, of course--as a Persian, time-commitments and deadlines don't compute) and making JooJoo Azad my part-time job, I realized that the biggest thing holding me back from executing all of the exciting projects I had dreamt up (& truly growing my blog) was, in fact, making sure that my blog was on schedule. Which is kind of silly, if you really think about it.

Simply put, the JooJoo Azad (for those of you new to the show this means "Free Bird" in Farsi, and, contrary to popular belief, is not my name) had caged itself.

Now that I'm really committed to a number of major projects and collaborations, I don't think committing to posts every other day would be sustainable (for either of us). In the words of one of my favorite bloggers, Jen of JennyPurr, "Make yourself smaller so you can make yourself bigger."
So well-said.
And I think it is only after 2.5 months of making this mistake that I've really learned what that means. Not to mention this means less burnout and writers block.

So, I'm committing to two posts every week, with each post being something worth your (and my) time. Deal?

If you're interested in slow blogging & want to learn more be sure to check out Jen's Slow Blogging for Creatives and the Slow Blog Manifesto.

*Okay maybe I was a bit too harsh. Numbers in titles seems like a current blogging fad but I'm kind of a fan. My life is organized into lists.


TL;DR: Fast blogging is like capitalism. I am not a capitalist and therefore I will no longer embrace it. What I will embrace though, are quality posts and thinking ahead/sustainably. Also, apparently I understand everything through politics. 

I honestly would love to hear from you. Are you a fan? Have you thought about slow-blogging?
P.S. Keep the questions on Islam coming--they are all so interesting so far!

<(')

P.S. I'll be in Germany in two days(!!!!). Come along!