February 1, 2019

Who is the girl under the scarf?

Anna McPhail


February 1st is world Hijab day, a movement created in New York to encourage religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women to experience the hijab for one day.
But how does it feel to experience every day prejudice and racism as a young Muslim school girl in Scotland? This work was created as part of my 6th year studies exploration of the attitudes towards the wearing of the hijab in school. Using my beautiful best friend Kadhija as a model, my work is an attempt to stimulate empathy for young Asian girls who experience racist attitudes by confronting the viewer with the ugly slurs that she experiences. I have combined a painted portrait of Kadhija against a spray painted background to symbolise vandalism and incorporated an embroidered scarf that I created into the work. Words like “terrorist” and “Paki” are contrasted with the words and qualities that she uses to define herself; sister, daughter, friend, clever, creative. Using a shock tactic, in an attempt to stimulate debate, I have defaced the scarf and my work, spray painting the word that she associates most with fear, and intolerance – PAKI.