Photographer Documents London’s Hijab Street-Style

by Sholeh Hajmiragha

Hijabs are a hot topic of debate and are most often criticized as an oppressive symbol that covers women and veils their identity.  However, Iranian-born photographer Sara Shamsavari celebrates the creativity and individuality these veils allow women through street-style portraits that capture young women in veils in various areas of London. 

Shamsavari’s photographs show portraits of women wearing veils patterned with pink leopard print, accessorized with gold chains, and styled with bows and rosettes, just to name a few.  However, what is most striking about these photographs are the faces that shine through, haloed by their colorful headscarves.  Through her photos, Shamsavari seeks to not only highlight these women’s unique form of self-expression, but also to emphasize their range of ethnicities and individuality as women.

Shamsavari says that she wants to avoid any debate concerning the hijab, stating “I’m neither for nor against the veil…But looking at these young women, I thought they must be dealing so much with just being young, women and visibly Muslim, yet there is this beauty and vibrancy in them which really shines through.”  Shamsavari was inspired by her own experiences growing up as an Iranian-born woman in London during the 80s and 90s where she was accustomed to name-calling and prejudice.  She cites this exhibition as indicative of her desire to focus her work on what she calls “uncelebrated communities.” 

Featuring 50 images, Shamsavari’s exhibition will be shown in the Royal Festival Hall in London this Friday to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Source: The Guardian

Images by Sara Shamsavari

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