DUBAI: If images of people strapping fluffy pillows to their bodies with a belt have flooded your Instagram feed, fear not. Your friends have not gone completely stir-crazy; they are simply playing a social media game that has attracted the attention of practically every aspiring fashion influencer struggling to come up with creative content while stuck at home. Dubbed the #quarantinepillowchallenge, there are close to 100,000 entries on Instagram, with most showcasing bare-shouldered, bare-legged women in stilettos. But while the challenge promotes a sort of sexy and revealing glamour, women who follow modest dress codes are jumping on the bandwagon too.
Veteran modest fashion influencer Dina Torkia posted her version on Instagram — an all-black outfit consisting of a high-necked top with bell sleeves, black jeans, sporty trainers, and a black pillow with an emerald belt. Hijab-wearing fashion blogger Aisha Altayeb wore a patterned pillow over jeans and accessorized her ensemble with a Gucci belt.
“I thought that the pillow challenge was funny given the current situation but scrolling through my feeds, I couldn’t help but think that I didn’t relate to these pictures. So I had to recreate my own version so that other modest dressers could relate to it,” Alteyeb told Arab News.
“Many people assume that dressing modestly means being boring but by taking part in such challenges, we show others that modesty shouldn’t be seen as limiting. It is rather a chance to be more creative. Also, being fashionable is not just about following a trend but adding a twist to it and making it your own.”
From showcasing barrette hair clips on hijabs to wearing bucket hats in lieu of headscarves, adapting to mainstream trends is a hallmark of the modest fashion blogging movement — and this has become increasingly evident through social media challenges.
The #dontrushchallenge is another social media trend that has gained global traction. Participants post videos of their makeover transformations, wearing elaborate makeup and outfits to the hit hip-hop song, “Don’t Rush,” by Young T and Bugsey. A group of prominent modest fashion and beauty bloggers, who also happen to be mothers, created the “Muslim Mom” edition, starring personalities like Hodan Yusuf from the Netherlands and Basma Kahie from London.
Modest fashion has steadily entered the mainstream over the past decade, rising through the ranks within the larger industry and cementing itself as a lifestyle, rather than a mere trend. It has become a multi-billion-dollar industry in its own right. Brimming with creativity and enthusiasm and celebrating inclusivity, modest fashion consumers and influencers fight the narrative that Muslim women are repressed and meek, or dress plainly.
While some may deem them a frivolous waste of time, these challenges offer a creative outlet and distraction from the dismal pandemic news. But more importantly, they invite all players into the fashion sphere without discrimination. Black or white, Western or Eastern, hijabi or non-hijabi, there is no modeling audition or prejudice involved — just a smart phone and an eye for style.