Rihanna, Lady Gaga and what’s really behind burqa swag

Arwa Mahdawi in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_378 Oct. 25 12.23Ladies! Wondering what to wear tonight that will turn heads and get all the boys excited? May I suggest a sexed-up burqa or perhaps a naughty niqab? While harem pants are v last season, veils are terribly in vogue. Not only do they add an exotic edge, but black is extremely mu-slimming.

All the celebs are getting involved. One such person is Rihanna, who was recently asked to leave a mosque in Abu Dhabi after posing for photos wearing her own interpretation of a burqa. Pairing a hooded black jumpsuit with bright red lipstick, Ri-Ri's brand of Islama-chic proved a hit on Instagram, but not among staff of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Ri-Ri is reported to have been ejected, and there followed a statement that the photos were “inconsistent with the sanctity of the mosque”.

Rihanna's entire Instagram account is a chronicle of controversy and questionable decisions, so this latest episode isn't much of a surprise. What is noteworthy about the Abu Dhabi incident, however, is that it is the latest in a long line of attempts by western popular culture to eroticise the veil. From the creation of a burqa Barbie to Diesel ads featuring a tattooed woman wearing nothing but a denim niqab, overtly sexual depictions of the veil are suddenly everywhere. You can even buy a “Sexy Middle Eastern Arab girl burqa Halloween costume” from eBay. And there's a suitably ghastly name for this phenomenon: “burqa swag”.

More here.