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Beyond Fashion Tips and Hijab Tutorials: The Aesthetic Style of Islamic Lifestyle Videos

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Abstract

Among young women, lifestyle videos have become extremely popular on YouTube, and a similar trend has emerged among young Muslim women who share modest fashion tips and discuss religious topics. This paper examines the videos of two prominent Muslim women on YouTube, Amena Khan and Dina Torkia, in an effort to understand how they engage with aesthetic styles in order to work against Western stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed and lacking individuality. Islamic lifestyle videos might appear to simply promote a vacuous focus on appearances, but I argue that it is through the aesthetics and affects of these videos that Amena and Dina do political work to redistribute the sensible and shift what is considered attractive, beautiful and pleasurable in Western society. Additionally, the hybrid aesthetic styles and affects of authenticity and pleasure, which are possible in digital spaces like YouTube, offer Amena and Dina the chance to control their own visual images and to resist being coopted as icons of Western freedom or Islamic piety.

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... At the same time, digital media provide opportunities for new authorities to emerge, as they may be more efficient at using new technologies than established religious leaders. For instance, young Muslim women gain authority as they effectively engage with social media spaces and Islamic fashion to spread information about religious piety and modesty (Peterson, 2016;Beta, 2019). ...
... Similarly, contemporary studies of digital media and religion focus on spaces that provide easy access to data on how people make meaning online. Research projects analyze mobile applications, like the Bible app (Hutchings, 2015) or meditation apps (Grieve, 2017), or they look at social media spaces, such as Facebook groups (Abdel-Fadil, 2019), Twitter hashtags like #MuslimWomensDay (Pennington, 2018) or YouTube videos (Peterson, 2016). While all of these research projects offer insightful analysis of these interconnections between media and religion, certain forms of religious expression and media spaces remain under-analyzed ...
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As religious identity and spiritual practices transform and expand in the digital media moment, this article advocates for more critical scholarship on media and religion that examines the complex ways that individuals make meaning in the digital age. First, I present an overview of foundational media and religion theories that analyze the interactions between these ever‐changing fields, such as the culturalist tradition, mediatization theory, and the social shaping of technology approach. Furthermore, this essay highlights insightful research trends that blur distinctions between media spaces and complicate definitions of religion. Finally, a discussion of gaps in the scholarship will justify an argument for more theories centered in international contexts, as well as analysis of the relationships between media technologies, aesthetics, affect, identity and religious expression. These emerging approaches provide more in‐depth discussions of how the fast‐changing and ever‐complex digital culture is deeply connected to the evolving nature of religion and human existence.
... Similarly, Jones (2010) notes that women who adopt Islamic fashion are criticized for promoting consumerism and the fetishization of material goods at the expense of spiritual commitment. Thus, as Peterson (2016a) remarks, online personalities associated with Islamic fashion are subject to conflicting tensions and negotiate their position within these tensions or "ambivalences". ...
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... People can create and develop various symbols, including significant images, to illustrate the meaning of social reality that is representing something. YouTube becomes a furnish medium to manipulate the meaning of social reality to be something that can be 'enjoyed' by other people for entertainment (Chu, 2009;Peterson, 2016 power of audio-visual that inserted on YouTube makes it more attractive compared to other social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. ...
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... In particular, members of minority groups can benefit from the public character of the Internet and, at the same time, choose to create closed profiles to safeguard their privacy (Ross, 53 2019). When it comes to Muslims living in non-Muslim countries, previous academic scholarship has shown how the Internet can function as a space to negotiate religious identities and help Muslim women become narrators of their own stories (Kavakci & Kraeplin, 2016;Peterson, 2016;Waninger, 2015). Boy, Uitermark, and Wiersma (2018) explore the hashtag #hijabfashion and discover that Muslim sartorial practices exist across global networks but are also based on local centers that become relevant for Islamic fashion, such as the Dutch city of Rotterdam. ...
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... Yo ung people's engagementwith the Internet includes alsoMuslims in non-Muslim countries. Forexample, some young Muslim women create fashion blogs or Yo uTubev ideos to describer eligious-related stylistic practices, and also to negotiatethe visibilityofthe hijab (Kavakci /Kraeplin 2016;Peterson 2016). The use of humour on Tw itter allows Muslims to create spaces of socialization, as in the case of the hashtag #Muslimcandyheartrejecte mployedt oi ronically talk about romanticrelationships between Muslims living in the We st (Wills /Fecteau 2016). ...
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