Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Muslim women-Clothing-United States, Hijab (Islamic dress)-Psychological aspects, Muslim women-United States-Psychology, Women-Identity, Identity (Psychology), Body image in women, Power (Social sciences), Feminism, Empowerment, Muslim, Hijab, Body image, Qualitative


This qualitative study examines how, if at all, the Islamic practice of hijab (veiling) empowers those women who practice and if it has any influence upon feminist identity and body image. This study is based upon the perspective of 12 adult Muslim American women living in North Carolina who practice a form of physical hijab on a daily basis. Participants were recruited using a snowball sampling technique and interviewed in person by the researcher. Questions included, but were not limited to: do you feel empowered by the hijab why or why not? Do you identify as a feminist, why or why not? Do you feel the hijab contributes to a positive or negative body image, why or why not? Each interview was audio recorded and subsequently transcribed by the researcher and analyzed using an open coding system. The major findings of the study were: the hijab was empowering for these women by providing control over their physical selves; the hijab was a conscious choice; participants believed their image as a Muslim woman challenged mainstream Western images of empowered women; the hijab was seen as separate from their physical body but generally contributed to a positive body image; and hijab was a choice not influenced by male control. The findings from this study can contribute to social work education and practice, through considering forms of female empowerment not considered and to help dispel negative stereotypes of Muslim women and the practice of hijab.




iii, 55 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 43-45)

Limited Access until August 2019