Over the last few months, I have seen a disturbing trend growing stronger with every day.
What is that trend?
Why, the use of the Kuffiya (hatta) as a fashion accessory.
What is the kuffiya?
It is a traditional head dress worn by many arab men. The size, pattern and colours can vary depending on the country/region.
Why the big stink?
Because the kuffiya has (since the 60s) become a symbol for Palestinian nationalism/solidarity, it is a very strong political symbol. People wear it to political rallies for many reasons (to show their support to the Palestinians, to show resistance to the occupation, to speak out about human rights injustices, etc).
How has it become a fashion accessory?
More and more people are buying and wearing the kuffiya without even knowing what it stands for (many stars are wearing it, I even found some at Le Chateau last week!).
I first became aware of this change a few weeks back. I was out shopping with a friend and happened upon a halter-top in a window. I was looking at it when I realized it was made with a kuffiya. Yes, someone had taken this political symbol, cut it into pieces, resewed it and fit it to a mannequin to display in a window. To me, it’s like taking a flag and cutting it up into pieces and using it to accessorise. You are altering the original vision, the essence of this symbol and making it into a disposable product, you are changing it because you think you can do better, because you just need something to fill the gap. I find this degrading! I would never take my beloved Canadian flag and desecrate it by taking bits and pieces of it and using it willy nilly here and there. Needless to say, I took a picture of the shirt and asked a few people for their opinion. Indeed, everyone agreed with me.
Since then, I have seen plenty of people wearing kuffiyas around their neck. Every time, I wonder if they really know what it means.
So what do you plan on doing about it?
I was looking to buy a kuffiya to show my support to the Palestinian cause. I’ve decided I will not be buying one unless I am 100% sure it was made in Palestine, that the money is going to support the cause and I will only wear it to rallies. It’s a shame because I wanted to wear one out and about, answer peoples’ questions, inform them, but I do not want people to look at me and ask themselves the same questions I ask myself when I see someone wearing a kuffiya “Are they wearing it for the cause, or are they just another ignorant fashion whore?”.