Kuwaiti fashion blogger, model and fashion designer Ascia Al Faraj, known by Ascia AKF, first decided to wear a headscarf when she was 19 years old, saying, “It felt spiritually correct, it felt mentally correct and it felt physically correct. It felt like a little bit of armour for everything that I knew I was going through at 19.”
Now, at 29, she has decided to remove it. “I don’t really believe that what a woman chooses to do with her body, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone in the process, is really anyone else’s business.”
She discusses her decision on her YouTube channel in a video entitled To New Beginnings, which has already racked up a staggering 745,000 views.
Like many women who, on the brink of a new decade, look back at the one that came before it Ascia has grown, as a person and as a woman. “I’ve grown on here with you guys [her online base] for pretty much all of my 20s, and I’m so proud of the woman I’ve become.”
With that growth came a disconnect with her identity – the person she has grown into and identifies with vs. who she was portraying online, a persona she admits to outgrowing. “That’s not to say I never identified with my scarf or with the modest fashion community, because I completely did and completely still do.”
With almost 3m Instagram followers, Ascia has made her mark in fashion around the Arab world and is considered one of the most influential bloggers in the region. Speaking on her place in the modest fashion community, she is satisfied that after years and years of fighting for Muslims’ rights to be shown in media, with the proper representation of Muslims, and especially Muslim women who choose to cover, “I feel we’re finally getting the media attention and media representation that we deserve… I can no longer say that I feel comfortable taking a spot in campaigns or media where they want that Muslim Hijabi representation.”
The comments on the video have been disabled because, as she says, the decision will not be well-received by everyone. “Just as I have continued to fight and will continue to fight for a women’s right to choose how she covers her body, I hope you guys will fight for me too.”