So what’s the big deal about a jacket? It’s only an item of clothing. Perhaps so but, for me, purchasing this addition to my wardrobe had a far greater significance than for most other people.
Growing up, through my teens and beyond, the denim jacket was perceived as a symbol of rebellion. Whether this was all in my mind or not, I felt wearing a jacket of this type would not have been received too well by those around me. There’s something about denim and the deviance it implied. But it wasn’t just that. I myself never had the confidence to dare wear such a thing as it wouldn’t have helped with my low self-esteem at the time. So, it remained out of reach more by choice than anything else.
Fast forward to my current life and I am now the proud owner of my very first denim jacket. Admittedly, it’s been a very bold move on my part. Just making the decision to buy it was one that had me to-ing and fro-ing for a long while and even though I now have one in my possession, I am still questioning my own decision. Would it really suit an older woman? Am I trying to recapture my youth? What am I trying to prove? I can sometimes be my own worst enemy. If that wasn’t enough, I’ve not had the courage to take the price tag off despite wearing it a couple of times! It’s as if I’m half expecting to return it and haven’t been able to commit to the decision I’ve made. Crazy, I know.
But there is the other part of me that knows I am over-thinking this decision. I know that this jacket, along with any other item of clothing I have, will always be worn in a way that protects my modesty and keeps me within the fold of a suitable dress code for a Muslim woman. That’s why I didn’t hold back when buying it. I always had an image of what I’d like to see for myself -on myself – and Alhamdulillah, I know I’ve ticked all the necessary boxes to fulfil my duties of Islamically appropriate attire.
There’s nothing to say an older woman cannot be chique but modest. These two concepts have never been mutually exclusive. In fact, even as a woman myself, one of the things that I find really pleasing to see is a fellow Muslim woman dressed elegantly. It reinforces the notion that a woman dressed according to Islamic principles can actually be beautiful without being decadent. There’s nothing to say that a Muslim woman has to look like a sack of potatoes. As much as some hardliners might try to sell this concept, I know it’s nonsense and is oppressive. It denies the woman any right to individual expression and her innate desire to want to look and feel pleasing to herself, never mind others. Also, as I continue on my own weight loss journey, I want to celebrate my success along the way. Buying clothes which were once forbidden to me because of my own distorted perception of myself, is a way of affirming my freedom from that mindset. Goodbye Cinderella! This latest phase of my life is all about me now. No more waiting in the queue for my turn to enjoy a few indulgences.
I hope never to feign youth and be in denial about the ageing process. I know it’s happening. By the same token, I refuse to give up on some small pleasures in life and pretend to be content to live at bare miminum level when I know I could do better. Allah has given me the opportunity to do so and rejecting those blessings would be ingratitude in itself.
So, the denim jacket is a potent symbol for me. It is a
small huge victory of self-determination over self-doubt. It is a statement to say I have some zest for life still. It is an outward reflection of an inner rejuvenation that I have been feeling for some months now. Whilst others will never know the courage it has taken me to get to this point, I know that the jacket will always be worn as an acknowledgement that I have the strength to overcome my deepest inhibitions without worrying what others think of me. I only need to consult my Islamic conscience and nothing nor nobody else. That is a wonderful liberation.