Yumna Al-Arashi is a Yemeni-Egyptian-American Photographer, whom I took a significant amount of inspiration from for my final major project The Hijab Diaries. In her project ‘Northern Yemen’, she sets out to reframe the image of hijab and challenges the quick assumptions made about veiled women. Yumna photographed women at a countryside in Yemen, where she transforms the hijab and women into captivating symbols of power, emulating the Yemeni women she describes as strong leaders of the home and land. She delivers an empowered vision of femininity through arresting images of grace, strength, and beauty. Her intention is to show true power and beauty of women. Seeing less imagery of women where she is empty, sexual, and pretty – rather interested in inspiring women to view themselves this way: ‘to dig deep and find that powerful woman’.
The process of Yumna’s work motivated me into capturing bold, powerful, and graceful images for my project, to truly break the negative misconceptions and myths of Muslim women who wear the hijab. Yumna’s pictures truly speak for themselves and undeniably show the power and liberation Muslim women have.
The subject of my work and Yumna’s are quite similar as the goal is to see Muslim women in another light, a powerful one. Both our works are important as a means of a personal and authentic chronicle of us Muslim women. Her enthusiasm for the art she was doing only served to motivate me immeasurably more, because my goal is to create an ongoing source and platform of empowerment through my photographs.