By ALEX HAWGOOD, New York Times
Name: Hoda Katebi.
Hometown: Edmond, Oklahoma.
Now Lives: On the North Side of Chicago, in a two-bedroom apartment that she shares with a roommate.
Claim to Fame: Katebi is the brains behind the politically charged fashion blog Joojoo Azad, in which she describes herself as a “sarcastic (and angry) Muslim-Iranian creative and community organizer.” The site frequently casts a spotlight on reductive media representations of hijab-wearing Muslim women and the environmental implications of, say, patterned rompers. “The power of how you dress and submit your body to public consumption really informs the way people engage with you,” she said.
Big Break: During a January appearance on WGN News Chicago, to promote her self-published photography book, “Tehran Streetstyle,” Katebi was asked about Iran’s nuclear weapons and told “you don’t sound like an American” by the show’s hosts. (The anchors later privately called her to apologize.) A clip of the interview became a Twitter phenomenon and was reported on by publications including Glamour and The Guardian. “I think it was refreshing for people to see a person of color having a moment of truth on television,” she said.
Latest Project: Her next media venture, Joojoo Journal, which she describes as a “multilingual, multimedia publication where diasporic, marginalized and ‘subaltern’ voices are uplifted,” goes live in April. “I want to be able to work directly with people in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Greece who otherwise don’t have access to outlets,” she said.
Next Thing: She is starting a co-op sewing project in Chicago to help immigrant seamstresses team up with small-scale fashion houses. The project’s first client will be herself: a unisex clothing brand that she is designing. “We always think of androgyny as masculine, so I want to create androgynous clothing that uses a woman’s body as a template,” she said.
American Woman: Katebi has publicly taken issue with artist Shepard Fairey’s poster of a woman wearing an American flag as a headscarf. “The only time you see a Muslim woman’s face everywhere is when it is created by a white American man,” she said. “We as Muslims are constantly trying to prove that we are American enough and that we have to wrap this country’s flag around us to be accepted.”
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