Final – “Burqa Swag”

Posted on December 14, 2013 by


                 The way Muslim’s dress is very traditional and it can be rather easy to identify who is a Muslim and who isn’t.  Some parts of the Muslim dress are the Hijab (head dress), Khimar (veil) and Abaya (cloak), and many others. It is very typical for a Muslim woman to show little to no skin for it is custom for these woman to hide their bodies from others who are not their partners. However, recently two of America’s biggest pop singers have been criticized for their takes on the Muslim wardrobe.

                Rihanna, who is very famous for her music and her beauty, and Lady-Gaga, who is known for her outrageous music performances and fashion, both have shown their outlooks on the Muslim wardrobe. Rihanna, while on tour overseas, decided to take a stop at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This wasn’t just any normal tour to see the mosque however. Rihanna decided that she wanted to do a photo shoot in front of the mosque. What did she then decide to wear? Of course she wanted to wear the traditional clothing associated with the Muslim Religion. The first problem arose when she had tried to gain entrance to the mosque by an entrance that was not designated for visitors. After being redirected to the correct entrance to continue her tour, the photo shoot could begin. Rihanna, wearing her own interpretation of a Burqa, with a black Hijab and a black jumpsuit with bright red lipstick, started to pose for the pictures. The controversy then started to begin.  Rihanna wasn’t seen as posing in such a way that proper woman in Abu Dhabi, and just Muslim woman in general, would pose. She was asked to leave the mosque because of the inappropriate and sexual manner of her poses. 


            These are two of the pictures from the photo shoot that were seen as “innapropriate”. As you can see, in our American culture, these photos wouldn’t be seen as something that is sexual. Under the  circumstances however, it was very inappropriate to disrespect a sacred mosque. Not the mention the fact that she didn’t have true permission and was trying to use the idea of her being famous to justify her actions. Posted below is a link to a video of some of the other pictures taken along with a reaction to the photos.

                The other artist and actress that has taken the burqa and other Muslim apparel and tried to make a fashion out of it is Lady Gaga. She has done so in a different way that is possibly considered to be even more disrespectful and problematic than Rihanna. Although she wasn’t doing anything wrong in front of a sacred mosque, she was attributing the formal wear to bad connotations such as nudity, sex, dance and “burqa swag”. Lady Gaga wears such apparel not because she believes in the Muslim faith and culture, but simply because she wants to make it become a fashion over in America. While being a contestant on a fashion show, she proceeded to wear a bright pink burqa, veil, and other garments. Not only were they bright pink, but they were also made out of a see through fabric that allowed you to see everything that was underneath. Is this really what Muslims want to see their culture portrayed as? Other attempts at trying to make a fashion statement have involved her adding her own little twists to the oriental clothing. Whether that be some animal fur around the waist or accessory boots, she is trying to make it a popular knew clothing item. One final piece that really puts Lady Gaga’s ploy over the top is the song that she has written about the Burqa.The song is fitting enough called “Burqa” and the lyrics aren’t exactly what one would think of when hearing the song title. They include, “My veil is protection for the gorgeousness of my face.”, “Do you wanna see me naked, lover? Do you wanna peek underneath the cover?”, “Do you wanna see the girl who lives behind the aura.” All of these lines really make you question the song and why she even decided to write it.    


As you can see from the above picture, Lady Gaga has no intention of wearing the clothes in a traditional Muslim way. All she wants is to try and get attention and she will go far enough to disrespect the Muslim and Islamic faith. If you want to hear the song, the URL is posted here.

After reading about these two scenarios the question arises on whether or not you should be able to wear Hijabs, Burqas, etc. if you are not practicing the Muslim faith. Currently, if you are a woman and you visit a place where Muslim is practiced, it is a a norm and actually expected that you dress the traditional and oriental way. If you don,t you won’t be getting in any trouble but you will get some questionable glances towards you. The clothing that is worn really sets apart the Muslim faith from other religions. It is something that is special to them and shouldn’t just be worn in a “fashionable” way. That isn’t saying however that Muslim women to try and be fashionable when they put on their clothes. They dress exotically but at the same time keep their respect and modesty towards their faith. It is just a completely different fashion that is over here in the United States. And to try and make that your own way such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna did is when it becomes disrespectful.



 “Burqa – Lady Gaga (Lyrics).” YouTube. YouTube, 06 Aug. 2013. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.

“Islamic Clothing Glossary.” Islam. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
“Lady Gaga Has a Burqa Problem.” Jezebel. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
“Lady Gaga’s New Low: Why “Burqa Swag” Needs to STOP.” Feminspire. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
Mahdawi, Arwa. “Rihanna, Lady Gaga and What’s Really behind Burqa Swag.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
“Rihanna Asked to Leave Abu Dhabi Mosque over ‘inappropriate Pictures’ on Instagram.” NME.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
“Rihanna Goes Muslim, Wears A Hijab At A Mosque – Rihanna Diamonds World Tour Official.” Dailymotion. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec.
“Rihanna Kicked out of Famed Abu Dhabi Mosque over Racy Photos.” NY Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.


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