Miss Hayati is a new BellaNaija Style series that explores the mysterious and the seemingly impenetrable world of young West African Muslim women. Headlined by four alternating writers: Fatima Togbe, Papatia Feauxzar, Maryam Salam and Ismath Lauriano, the goal is to inspire young Muslim women to build personal power and live fulfilling lives within their personally defined religious limits.
Photo Credit: @itsmaryamsalam

Transitioning from body-fitting and short clothes to maxis and carefully selected clothes wasn’t as difficult as I expected it to be actually. I guess I was mentally prepared and surely understood that the first few months might really be a struggle. I was born in a Muslim home, but since my parents believe that there is no compulsion in religion, they didn’t force any of their children to wear a hijab. I will forever be thankful to them for not using the usual forceful method as most African parents do. Instead, the way they logically and naturally embedding culture and faith into my siblings and me, has strengthened our faith and character. Eventually, I went through my own learning process and decided that I wanted to wear the hijab.

I can clearly remember the joy of clicking “Pay now” on eBay while I ordered my first set of hijabs, and the hours I spent on YouTube watching different hijab styles and turban wrapping tutorials. Apart from taking the big step of transitioning from mini outfits to modest styles, enjoying every stage of my transition was a vital period for me as well. You need to be mentally ready to change and discover unique ways of dressing for your new lifestyle. Since my transition, the way I shop has changed but not completely. Yes, now I think twice and pay attention to the style of clothing I purchase, but I still pretty much patronise my favourite boutiques and brands.

Shopping seems to be one of the biggest fears for young girls out who want to transition and join the modest-style wagon. Do not worry, you are not only stuck with “Modest brands”. Apart from the fact that I think that the price point for most modest brands is higher than my student shopping budget, many do not make the effort to explore their creativity and offer nothing more than Abayas. Don’t get me wrong, I love Abayas, especially for events and ceremonies, but I refuse to stifle my creativity and style with a wardrobe full of just oriental outfits.

My whole transitioning process has been easy and seamless, mainly because I adapted to a modest style while still wearing the same modern and contemporary clothing I already had. As a Hijabi, you can literally shop anywhere and wear anything with a sense of modesty. My personal trick when styling short tops is layering. When you’re transitioning, you can’t always afford to change your entire wardrobe immediately. Instead, skills like layering will take you a long way. It is easy and quick to achieve; just remember the golden rule: short over long.

Most importantly, don’t take your transitioning as a task that needs to be completed and perfected immediately. It is a journey, so make sure you enjoy every step of it. I myself am not where I want to be yet in my transitioning journey, but trust me when I say that I am having such a great time and don’t have any regrets for making such a life-changing decision.

If you’ve recently started wearing the hijab, or are thinking about it?

Share your journey with me in the comment section down below, I would love to read about it. You can email me directly at [email protected].

Connect with Maryam on Instagram: @itsmaryamsalam