Muslim Blogger Shares the Struggle of Balancing Religion and Fashion in Her Industry
What is your name, age and where are you from?
My name is Zynab Cewalam. I just recently turned 20. I am from Egypt but I moved to NY at the age of 9.
What do you feel most accomplished with at this point in your life?
“I would say my Instagram but it's more than that it's the person behind it. Even though I don’t think anyone can truly know my personality through my Instagram, it does show a big chunk of who I am. I feel like I have this persona that I can control. “
Can you describe a significant moment in your life?
“A significant moment in my life was when I started working and paying for my own expenses. I learned the value of money and how much I spend on daily basis, no wonder my dad used to complain, I would too if I was him. I also learned how to shop on a budget which a college student like myself needs to master. Working made me stronger and smarter in the way I engaged with people and that's something you have to know for the rest of your life.”
What major are you pursuing currently?
“ Business Communication but I wish I followed my heart and did Styling.”
What is your greatest struggle?
“ My greatest struggle has to be finding a balance between what I love and what I believe and hold dear to my heart. In this case, it's finding a balance between fashion and my religion—mostly my hijab. I want my faith to be strong and unaffected by new trends and society's new standards that seem to change every couple of days. Wearing the hijab and modest clothing isn’t the idealistic beauty or style look but that's the whole thing about fashion there are supposed to be no boundaries. I feel like it'll get easier because when I break these boundaries it empowers other Muslim women as well. I have come a long way from the person I once was. I've struggled a lot with accepting myself and loving my flaws. In this industry, society has set a mold on how you should be which combats the person truly you are and we usually pick at ourselves for not fitting into this mold and that is just not okay. My obsession with fashion stemmed from the many days I spent on YouTube watching DIYs. When I went to Egypt I was inspired so much and I found a tailor which gave me the opportunity to rework my clothes. I had a vision so I went out and bought fabrics and buttons and made a skirt, two dresses and a pair of pants. I guess you can say I’ve always had a love for styling. Being 20 years old I sometimes think back on the “should haves” like how I should’ve applied to my dream college and majored in styling rather than letting the opinion of others cloud my judgement. I am currently unsatisfied with the college I am in as well as the major I chose so I am going back and erasing the “should have” and chasing my dream college once again. It is crazy how a single decision can change the rest of your life. At the end of the day I truly believe that everything happens for a reason… maybe this is the perfect time for me to pursue my dreams after all.”
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
“ I never really thought about where I’d be 5 years from now. I guess because I am still confused on my career and future. I hope whatever it is I do I am content with who I’ve become and that I am constantly working towards new goals.”
What motivates you?
“ My girls. They are my support system even when I am feeling low and tell me what I can achieve and what I want.
How would you describe your style now?
“Something not everyone knows about me is that I used to play basketball with my brothers when I was younger. With playing basketball and the way I used to dress it’s safe to say I was a tomboy. But my style now? It’s all over the place. It’s me— I’m all over the place. Sometimes I feel classy and other I just want something casual. It’s definitely unique because I don't like copying others, I like wearing what ever feels good not what others thinks looks good. Also, then hijab gives me a huge advantage in making it unique and I always have to play around with my outfits so they can be modest but still different.”
By: Rajaa Singh