The head scarf chic of Toronto’s “hijabistas”
Sara Shamsavari has always admired women who wear the hijab. The British-Iranian artist respects the fact that in the face of discrimination, they wear the veil proudly— and, sometimes, with serious flair, sporting bright colours and bold designs. “Often when people see a woman in a hijab, they just see the hijab,” Shamsavari says, but she sees strength, beauty and creativity. In 2010, Shamsavari began photographing the women she calls “hijabistas” on the streets of London, where she lives, for her Veil series. She continued shooting in New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Dubai and Toronto, and exhibited selections from the series in London last fall. “Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, these women are rebelling against a very narrowminded image of who they are,” Shamsavari says. We asked four of Shamsavari’s Toronto subjects to reflect on what wearing the hijab means to them.