Clifton (New Jersey): Abrar Shahin, a Muslim student of the 2015 batch of Clifton High School in Clifton, New Jersey while asserting that 'modesty' is a top priority for her said Hijab is her choice, and also her style, after winning the 'best dressed' award this spring.
“First and foremost, modesty is my top priority,” Abrar Shahin told The Huffington Post in an email after being chose as 'best dressed' from among 800 students.
“I love keeping up with the latest trends and putting a modest twist to them!", she added.
The 18-year-old Muslim teen is proud of herself for winning, and of her classmates for making an unconventional choice for the superlative.
"I am honored to come from a generation that is accepting. … Growing up in this society can be difficult, but the only way to advance and break stereotypes is to stay true to ourselves and our beliefs", she said while talking to Today.com.
Shahin has always had an interest in fashion and her wardrobe, which ranges from flowing skirts to stylish pumps to chunky necklaces — all paired with her signature hijab.
For inspiration, Shahin says she loves the “hijabi fashionistas” on Instagram -- women who wear head coverings and involve them in stylish outfits. While a hijab is worn to maintain modesty and privacy, Shahin says it doesn’t restrict self-expression, and that there are often misconceptions about hijab-wearing women.
“People think we are oppressed, not allowed to do many things and are forced to wear hijab,” she told HuffPost. “But the truth is hijab is my choice. Yes, it's a command from Allah, but I chose to wear it. It identifies who I am, and helps me express myself. I can never see myself without it.”
The recent graduate says she hopes her story can inspire other young Muslim women.
“I want to let other girls know that they shouldn't be afraid to express themselves,” Shahin told HuffPost.
“We live in the land of the free for this reason. Being true to yourself should always be on top", she added.
Shahin plans to attend Rutgers University in the fall to study physical therapy, but says she will continue perfecting her own personal style, following the latest trends in fashion and putting her own modest twist on them.
"(Winning this award) certainly shows that the younger generation is accepting and open-minded ... I am glad that my story has reached places all around the world and has changed many misconceptions of young, American-Muslim women."