Khadijah Jalloh is a modest fashion enthusiast who spends most of her leisure time exploring all things fashion in the modest fashion industry and creates content to share for fun. She is also a registered nurse with a Master of Science in Nursing, a doctoral student, wife and a mother of 4.
She says she shares her modest fashion style on Instagram and Facebook as a way to connect with other hijabis in the diaspora and back home in Sierra Leone.
“My style is unique in the sense that I am not afraid to try non-conventional styles. The image of a modest woman in Sierra Leone 13 years ago was that of the older married woman, housewife with children in her gown, lappa, and enkitcha day in day out. I mean, I love the traditional gown, lappa, and enkitcha, but when I decided to wear the hijab, I knew from day one that was not the everyday look I am going for because I get bored easily. No disrespect to my mothers and grandmothers, that’s their style, and they owned it. So I curated my own and proudly wears my hijab the most fashionable and modest way I am comfortable with. In the process, I also try to incorporate the traditional Sierra Leonean styles my way,”
Like many people in the US, Jalloh has her day job as a nurse and faculty member but for her love of modest fashion, she spends most of her time after hours creating and putting out content which takes her up to 2 am writing papers and sharing her style on social media platforms. She says she has always had a love for Fashion so it wasn’t difficult for her to transition to being a hijabi and reiterated that by doing so her fashion sense did not change but her way of expressing it did.
“I remember the first time I went out in public with my hijab to the store and bumped into an old friend. She burst out laughing, I mean like loud and said “Eeeeee you nar mamy Haja now, duya abeg pull dar tin dey nar you head. You too young for that!” I told her it is not going anywhere. I smiled and walked away. I visited Sierra Leone in 2011 and ventured to the beach in my hijab, and people stared and heckled. This group of boys was shouting Tableeq nar beach! Tableeq nar beach! Like I am some strange creature in human land LOL. I thought they were crazy so I just carried on unfazed. I think people have gotten accustomed to seeing hijabs occupy spaces in Sierra Leone that traditionally were “tabooed” so we are making headways. In the same token, this has also led to the growing concerns of discrimination in the workplace and other institutions in Sierra Leone because organization don’t know how to react and resort to discriminatory practices,”
She says she did not wear the hijab to inspire she only did it because it felt right but however a day hardly goes by without her receiving a message from a young woman letting her know how much she has inspired them to dress modestly. She has received several messages from women saying that they started wearing the hijab because they saw her as an inspiration. These are what motivates her to continue to tell her story and adventures through photos.
Jalloh says what she shares is more than modest fashion and she hopes to continue to connect with her Sierra Leone sisters in issues affecting their communities at home and abroad. She recently started a blog and Facebook page called HijabStyleGuide to continue the conversation on representation and share inspiring stories of other Muslim women who have broken barriers and going places where no hijabis have been before.
“It is also a platform to celebrate my West African Hijabi sisters especially Sierra Leoneans because we do not feel represented in the mainstream modest fashion industry. So we are not waiting. We celebrate us!”
“One lesson I have learned sharing content on social media is that my story is mine to tell and I will tell it the way that I want it to be told. That is why I share photos sometimes with a little story about my life. What keeps me going are the hundreds of women that I interact with every day. The women that are looking for an outlet to engage in meaningful discourse. I have many plans to continue to build that online community but I will need an additional 24 hours a day to accomplish all that I have planned but for now, I will work with what I have got.”
She says she hopes to volunteer in Sierra Leone’s Healthcare field as a staff nurse or a nurse educator with a goal to eventually move and work in Sierra Leone permanently.