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Review of the doc “I wasn’t always dressed like this” by an influential Muslim Feminist



“A couple of years ago, I met the producer and director of the personal narrative based documentary, “I wasn’t always dressed like this” on the Internet. Betty Martins was looking to interview UK-based ‘women who veiled’ out of free choice. Ever since then I have been fortunate to be a part of the director’s fascinating exploration and beautiful journey.


Hijab (head veil) and niqaab (face veil) are words that symbolize a variety of emotions as well as mindsets for ‘others’ – those who see veiled women, but these words have hardly been explored before in the form of an artistic documentary to understand what they mean to those who veil. “I wasn’t always dressed like this” is a personal narrative; a poetic expression of that narrative; and an evocative audio-visual message explaining the layers of meaning the veil can have for women who choose it for themselves. The poetic documentary does not refer to political or religious ideologies but focuses squarely on the personal reasoning and feelings of the veiled women about hijab and niqab. The women who are interviewed are all women who live in a “free society” (the UK) and chose to veil themselves. This makes their narrative different from the usual one-sided judgment we receive from mass media that focus on subjective analyses using words like “misogyny”, “oppression” and “force.” The words used by veiled women in this documentary are contrary to media jargon. These women talk about “journey”, “beauty”, “love”, and “light.”


The beautiful background music is the artwork of Noura Sanatian, which effortlessly weaves itself into the developing web of spoken narrative. Overall, “I wasn’t always dressed like this” is not only a documentary; it is an experience that also silently opens gates of mutual respect, understanding and tolerance.”


I WASN’T ALWAYS DRESSED LIKE THIS review by Metis. A wife, mother, academic, and a writer and public speaker on topics related to teacher education. She is an active researcher on Feminism and Islam, the page owner of Muslim Feminists , and publishes in depth research at musfem.wordpress.com .

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