Turkish mag makes veil glamorous

Can the Muslim headscarf be synonymous with glamour? Turkey’s first fashion magazine for conservative Islamic women looks set to prove that it can.

In less than a year since it was launched last June, the monthly Ala — meaning “beauty” — has become a mainstream glossy. With a circulation of 20,000, it is only slightly behind the Turkish versions of Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Elle magazines.
Ala’s pages are splashed with models reflecting a conservative Islamic style, all wearing headscarves and long dresses, with their arms and necks covered. Ala’s editor, 24-year-old Hulya Aslan, has first-hand experience with Turkey’s headscarf troubles. Because she insisted on wearing one, she had to give up a university education, instead finding work at a bank.
“Now there is normalisation, an improvement. Now our veiled comrades can enter university and have more professional opportunities,” she said. “For the last five or six years we can say we have turned the corner.”
Ala, created by two advertisers, offers the usual fare of health tips, travel pages and celebrity interviews, supplemented by a strong dose of loud and clear Islamic activism. “Veiled Is Beautiful” proclaims one advertisement, driving home the point with the words: “My way, my choice, my life, my truth, my right.”
But such slogans sound more like a reference to the struggles of the past, when secularism monopolised the social scene and the Islamic headscarf, often viewed as a political symbol, met hostile reactions.

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