16-year-old with strict Muslim in-laws refuses to follow conservative dress code, tells grandmother to ‘shove it’

Gillian Sisley

A 16-year-old girl has found herself in a religious and cultural conflict with her stepfamily, as explained in a Reddit post.

*This is a work of non-fiction sourced from social media discussion boards and verified experts/specialists.*

The author begins by explaining that she’s 16, and her family is divided between those of her father's Muslim background and those of her stepmother's more conservative side. But the recent argument that prompted her to leave her family dinner has been an impetus for a debate about standing one's ground and self-respect. He explains:

“My dad married my stepmother about 3 years ago. She and her side of the family are very religious and quite strict in how they practice. They're very conservative and quite inflexible when it comes to others around them. She's always clashing with me about how my lack of practice reflects poorly on her in her community and how a little effort from me could go a long way in helping our family. I generally don't give an inch.”

In her step-family’s eyes, the author's thralldom to religion is not only a reflection of the stepmother's standing in her community, but also an obligation to her family. She continues:

“Last night, my stepmom’s mother was visiting us for dinner and told us she is throwing a family and friends party and we're all invited. But looked at me and said, ‘modest Islamic clothing only’. I said I'm gonna wear what I typically wear to any family party and she said no she won't allow it in her house. In case you don't know, what she wants are 1) hair covered, 2) not showing any skin apart from face and feet, and 3) clothes to be loose so they wouldn't show body figure.”

In conservative Muslim communities, dressing modestly is a fundamental aspect of tradition and culture. For example, according to Cornell University, women should dress modestly and wear clothing that covers their arms and legs, as well as a headscarf if outdoors. Similarly, women should dress in a way that covers as much of their body as possible and could consider wearing a khimar, a "sheet-like covering" which covers their entire body, as well as a hijab to cover their head, as detailed by the Arabic Clothes blog.

The author refused this demand, asserting:

“Up until this point, it was a polite conversation. But after this, she attacked my character and I responded. This is how it went from there, I'll quote directly as best as I can remember: Her: ‘This is the kind of party where the whole family comes or none of them come. You can be your own person on your own time but you have family obligations too and wouldn't kill you to do it for once in your life. And you should respect your religion and elders so if you know what's good for you when I tell you this is what you wear you should say ‘yes’.”

The 16-year-old was not about to compromise, firing back:

“You have no idea of my obligations or how I handle them, you're out of line and should back off…I don't respect this nonsense. And your party and religion, you know where to shove them.”

She stood up for herself, informed her father of her appreciation for his silent support, and left with her mother. Though her mother commends her daughter for standing her ground, the teen still has reservations about how she could have handled the situation better.

What do you think?

Was the author completely justified to stand up against her stepmother’s mom, and assert her right to dress whichever way she wants?

Or should the author indeed learn to respect her elders, and she should bend to the elderly woman’s will for the family party, for cultural and religious reasons?

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