As youngsters, we're taught a simple creed — that before judging others, we should "put ourselves in their shoes." Vice's fashion editor, Annette Lamothe-Ramos, had a different idea when she took the childhood adage for a spin by donning a burqa for a full day of New York City tourist-ing, with trips to Brooklyn, Central Park, and the Empire State Building. Initially, Ramos was asked to find a burqa for a photo shoot and was surprised by the difficulty of tracking one down online, as well as the lack of search results for articles that explained the social experience of wearing a burqa in a non-Muslim culture.
With an anthropological curiosity, she was most interested in people's reactions to the traditional Muslim garb. Says Lamothe-Ramos, "Eight out of 10 people that I came in contact with while wearing a burqa acted as if I didn’t even exist, which actually made me feel worse than the looks I received from busybodies who were offended by my presence." She felt particularly uncomfortable at the top of the Empire State Building, feeling the scrutinizing stares of security guards and tourists. Ouch.
Burqas are usually misperceived as indicating a woman's level of religious devotion, but the garment is a piece of Muslim culture, and not wholly tied to Islamic faith. Many women today wear the garment out of personal choice. As first and foremost fashion fans, we take pride in being part of an industry that encourages self-expression, whether it's a dress made entirely out of meat, nails that resemble talons, or a garment that covers it all up — as long as it's a personal choice (and not a social obligation).
Photo Via Vice