In January 2015, Buzzfeed published a story about an “experiment” they conducted with four women to discover what it would feel like to wear a hijab for a day. Two Rutgers University students, Dina Sayedahmed and Hamna Saleem, wondered why Buzzfeed had not asked women like them who wear the hijab every day about their experiences. For a Newest Americans class, they interviewed their friends about why they wore the hijab and the responses it elicited. What they had to say was powerful and often unexpected, which you can see in the film below. These young women’s voices were largely absent from the public discourse, and so we worked with them to create a short film to amplify their voices and to share what Dina & Hamna describe as “myth busting, stereotype crushing stories that take back the microphone and reclaim our own hijabi narratives.”
Newest Americans developed Dina and Hamna’s concept into the short film Hijabi World, which was published on The Atlantic and the New York Times Lensblog and has been viewed by more than two million people around the world. A personal thrill for Dina and Hamna came when Ashton Kutcher posted a link to Hijabi World urging his Facebook followers to “listen to real people with real stories before making a judgement.” The story package that accompanies Hijabi World includes a short Hijabi fashion music video and a brief memoir by Dina about what playing soccer taught her about wearing the hijab.