Waifs down a mossy path: Dries Van Noten’s clothes for next spring.

From the Bagram Bazaar

Dear Kay,
headscarf.jpg
Sometimes the mailbox provides a total surprise. A bit of Afghanistan showed up the other day, from our now nonvirtual friend Tish whom we met in the flesh at the New York sew-up.
These scarves (she sent two) were sent to her by her sister Jenny, who as you recall is a member of the armed forces stationed in Afghanistan. Here’s what Tish tells us:
“These are the size headscarves normally worn by men, but with the ouster of the Taliban more and more women are getting out from under the burka and wearing these scarves for modesty.
“My son brought me a burka when he was home recently on two weeks R&R, and believe me, those things are enough to keep any woman ‘under control.’ The burka is full length around the sides and down the back, while the front extends to just below the waist–presumably so the hands are free to carry children, packages, etc. The top is heavily pleated so that it fits very firmly around the head, and there is a small section over the eyes that is made up of tiny embroidered eyelets so that you can see out (front only, you have no peripheral vision), but no one can really see the woman’s eyes.
“My very modern, 21-year-old college daughter summed it up best: ‘This is what the Taliban made women wear. I’m glad they’re in caves now, living on rats and bugs. it’s just barely what they deserve.’ ”
I’m looking at this scarf, which is airy and shiny and doesn’t weigh a thing.
Thanks so much to Tish for sharing this tangible piece of life in that faraway place.
Love,
Ann

Tags:

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Hi Ann, did you know that Tish sent Bagram scarves to me, as well? I am so touched by her letter, and when you see the scarves it makes you realize that it would be much nicer to pop one of these on your head, than a burkah.
    Thanks so much Tish and Jen, and also to the enterprising Matt for hauling that burkah home so you could tell us about it. Love, Kay

  2. I just had to add an idditional comment on the subject of burkas…my husband was deployed to Afhanistan around the 1st anniversary of Sept. 11. He also sent home a burka. The strangest thing about it is that it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life…the details in the embroidery, the luxurious fabric…it’s all just glorious, until you remember the meaning behind them. Needless to say I have a love-hate relationship with it. You just can’t help but admire is beauty, but at the same time detest everything that it stands for.

  3. … we take so much for granted in regard to our freedoms….

  4. There but by the Grace of God….thanking my lucky stars I was born in the USA!…now..if we could only help the little girls in Africa from being butchered.
    Some time ago, one of the TV news magazine shows had a woman put on a burka with a camera under it. They wanted to show the limited motion you have while wearing it – she was commenting on how heavy they are….something like 65 pounds? My neck hurts to think of the weight. Amazing that men can still be so evil in today’s world. It sent me back to the book, NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER. At the time that book was released a friend of mine had married into an Iranian family. It made me very worried for safety, since she had just had a daughter of her own. After age 7, children are their father’s property. PROPERTY!!!!!! And if they were caught with their eyes showing, they could be arrested. Just because it’s pretty, doesn’t mean it’s right.
    Off to knit more beanies for the troops. It’s the least I can do to say thank you for their service.

  5. Um, a detour to the sidebar, actually, because I too am all agog at Elastigirl. We have the same toy ricocheting around our house (aha! McD’s!!) and I have explained to my son that Elastigirl has “mommy arms,” because if we could wrap them around our kids twice, we would.
    Personally, I think we should just export Pixar movies and skip the tanks. Can you imagine what it would be like to watch “A Bug’s Life” if you lived in a dictatorship?
    Then again, when your kid insists on the 600th viewing, you start to seek the bigger picture. It’s the third format option: widescreen, regular screen and iconoclast…

  6. My anthropology professor this year has actually spent a large amount of time in Afgahnistan and does work here with the local Afgahn refugee community. I know it’s not the ‘pc’ stance to take re: burkahs, but we really do have to remember that there is an extreme difference in cultures between the western outlook and all others.
    In my prof’s experience the women did not feel imprisoned by their clothing. It lent them a feeling of safety and security while in public view, and also an air of mystery and sensuality. The veiled women on the streets also wore blue jeans in their homes. The women my prof knows do not understand why so much attention is put by Americans, especially American women, on veils and burkahs. Their clothing was the least of their worries while living under the Taliban. Many of these women are very meticulous in choosing bright, colorful fabrics and lovely embroidery for their burkahs. They do not feel that the clothing subjugates them, it is a symbol of their culture and nationality. I’ve known Muslim students from India who love wearing their own version of the burkah here in the states with head scarves even though there is no cultural or family pressure to do so.
    As I said, I know this isn’t a popular stance to take, but we’re all enriched by attempting to understand cultures different from our own.

  7. Speaking of different perspectives, it could just as easily be argued that we Americans are butchering our boys here in much the same way that African girls are being butchered. It’s all genital mutilation….I’m going to knit some willie warmers.

  8. Uhm, Susan, it isn’t the same. They boys still function normally.

  9. Melissa, thanks for that, I have a Sudanese friend who grew up wearing a burkah in Khartoum, came to England to go to University, wore ‘western’ clothes whilst she was here, decided that the burkah was her choice and now lives back in Khartoum again, in her burkah. She is most definately not put upon, pressured or bullied into this in any way. She prefers it. And whilst I in no way defend female genital mutilation, frankly if you’re not Jewish or Muslim (and there are those of us like that out here!) then male genital mutilation seems just as icky for non-medical reasons!

  10. Belinda – I think you pretty much made the point. Your friend had a choice – Afghani women did not.