Hello and welcome to Veiled Voices 2020! I am so glad you are here and hope you will stay long enough to add your voice to the conversation.

Starting a conversation is what Veiled Voices 2020 is all about – a project which hopes to unpick perceptions of Hijab wearing in Britain, by exploring what women think and feel about the Muslim practice of veiling in the UK. Worn by many Muslim women, the Hijab is simply a length of cloth, but one which has the power to hold and communicate multiple values, messages and beliefs; often provoking questions, reactions and feelings which are difficult to discuss.

Through the age-old feminist communication tool of embroidery, Veiled Voices 2020 invites women to come together and share their individual thoughts and feelings, documenting them onto a collaborative embroidery. Each and every woman’s voice is welcome; you can add yours via this blog or by attending one of the upcoming embroidery workshops. However you choose to participate, each contribution will be recorded with a single word or phrase being stitched onto the collaborative embroidery. My hope is that the embroidery will provide a platform which enables women to express themselves, ask questions and learn about each other.

And so, my question to you is, what does the veil mean to you? How does it make you feel?

14 thoughts on “Home

  1. Eleanor

    I don’t wear one….. It doesn’t ‘mean’ anything to me….. but I do have feelings about it – very mixed feelings ranging from admiration at the courage it can take to wear it, to wondering what someone would look like without wearing it, to feeling sorry for young girls having to wear it in the hot sunshine for example…… I’m also intrigued to see different ways it’s worn for some reason. it’s a garment that I find ambiguous and evokes complex feelings for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Huge thanks Eleanor for being the first person to post on the VeiledVoices2020 blog and adding your voice to what I think is going to be a really interesting conversation. I’m interested to see how veil wearers may be able to answer some of the questions you raise.

      I too love all the creative ways women choose to tie, wrap and wear their headscarves – it can be a real artform. I wonder if there is any symbolism in this, or if it is purely personal choice, a fashion statement?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Julie Seddon

    I think it’s a misconception that all Muslim women are forced to wear the hijab, although it is still true that some may be. I worked with a Muslim woman who didn’t wear one then decided she would, not because of pressure from her family but because she came to realise the importance of her religion to her personally and to her life. She saw it as a way of “coming out” as a Muslim woman, a visual sign of her religion. We had some very interesting talks about it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Gemma

      Like you Julie, I also know women who chose to wear a hijab, making them feel close to their beliefs and their culture. But I also know Muslim women who chose not to wear a hijab, but are equally devoted to their beliefs and culture. In the news it is often seen to represent oppression however when I see a women in a hijab I find it empowering. Choosing to present oneself with a hijab may not only be a religious choice, it could be a declaration of being at one with yourself; not feeling pressured to conform to society’s expectations and embracing your personal beliefs. It is amazing how one piece of clothing carries so many connotations and values.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Kitty

    I thought that some (not all) Muslim women had no choice but to wear a veil. If so, isn’t this a human rights issue? Shouldn’t every woman have the right to choose what they wear, just as men can? I think this is part of a larger debate concerning gender equality and equal rights. After all, gender is a social construct and religion is a social institution, as Foucault argued, religion is “a constant principle of coercion”. In other words, an oppressive mechanism of power. All women should have the right to choose what they wear, eat, say and do with their bodies, rather than having these choices made for them by their culture, religion or their husband.


    1. Hi Kitty, thank you for adding your voice to the conversation. I think you highlight a concern that would be echoed by many about the rights of individuals to choose what they wear and how to express themselves. The perception that some Muslim women maybe forced to wear the veil was raised at the first Veiled Voices workshop yesterday, instigating some really interesting conversation about the reaction of people to women in the veil in public spaces, potentially misguided attempts to help free Muslim women and the role of the media in constructing and perpetuating over simplified stereotypes. One participant candidly shared her experience of wearing the veil, voicing that she felt she had to almost shout ‘I don’t need saving’. Highlighting that veil is not the oppressor the act of disregarding a woman’s choice, or enforcing the act to veil or not, is the oppression.

      I’d love to hear other peoples thoughts on this.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Victoria

    If I had to sum up how I feel about the veil with one word, I’d say “curious”. As I understand it, women can choose whether or not to wear the veil and there will be many factors that influence that decision. In some cases – like anywhere – these factors might be oppressive. It’s equally oppressive to assume that anyone wearing a veil has been forced to do so, and that – as discussed in the post above – the wearer needs saving.

    I think it’s great to generate conversation about women’s choices and to challenge our own assumptions. I love the participatory nature of this conversation too – there is more that unites than divides us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ‘there is more that unites than divides us’ – I love that sentiment!

      I’ll pop ‘curious’ into the ‘box of thoughts’ to be embroidered onto the veil… it’s filling up nicely and I’m looking forward to the University of Derby Stitch-In (date still tbc) where students and staff will get a chance to stitch their own thoughts or thoughts from the box (generated by the conversations happening here on the blog) onto the collaborative embroidery.
      Thanks for joining the conversation!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Claire Roe

    I’ve been thinking about this project a lot since I joined one of the stitch sessions. One thing I initially felt was that I would struggle to wear one. I do several jobs that involve connecting with large and varied groups of people and I frequently draw (subtly) on my acting background for this. I can be quite a chameleon at times during the course of these interactions, as I search for a ‘way in’ with people whose instinct is to close down. I feel it would be pigeon holeing myself wearing such a statement of faith.
    However, reflecting again, is it anymore of a statement than my plethora of silver rings and Dr Martens? Do I feel this precisely because there IS a stigma already? I’m too busy looking from the outside in? My jewellery and Docs are sewn into the way I see myself. I love them and they are my statement about myself within society. It never occurred to me that many women who wear the hijab must feel like that about their decision to wear it.

    Thank you for making me explore my own understanding of this. It’s something I’ll take forward with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Carol Scott

    What a lovely comprehensive picture these posts make – I have worn a hijab and gown several times in the past to go to Friday Prayers in Tunisia with my dear friend. She, under Ben Ali`s rule wore a hijab since she was 18 and often had to conceal it – going into University , going into a government office, now she doesn`t have these problems. She is one of the most forward thinking , independent women I met in her country .


    1. Thank you so much for adding to the conversation Carol. Whilst this project focuses on the perception of hijab wearing in the UK these are clearly shaped by what happens elsewhere in the world. Our lived experiences, our cultural history, the news we consume, the narratives of society and the environment and community we live in all shape the lens through which we see the world. It is so easy for that lens to become super focused; talking with others, sharing, discussing and experiencing the world outside of this can be so enriching enabling us to see in a whole new way. That women throughout the world have to so often conceal who they are and what is important to them is so incredibly sad and frustrating. Of all the concepts and principles of feminism, CHOICE feels to me to be the most crucial. I wish for every woman in the world to have the freedom of choice.


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