Hoda Katebi is the founder and blogger at JooJoo Azad – an ethical fashion and social action blog that addresses on several thought provoking issues on how we consume and view fashion to be. She shares with us about her values in life and her journey as an inspiring blogger.
JooJoo Azad is Persian for free bird. What are your personal thoughts on freedom?
For me, and in the context that I use it in my blog title, freedom is the act of self-liberation from the chains of society’s standards: of beauty, of expectations, consumerism, and sexualization. Although breaking free from materialism, consumerism, standards of beauty, etc through the platform of a fashion blog seems rather counter-intuitive, I think this is where it is most important to be having these conversations.
What drives you in the day and keeps you up at night?
This question is really difficult, because as someone who has far too many things going on in her life—especially when something happens on the other side of the world and a wave of Islamaphobia hits me—it’s really easy to feel overwhelmed and want to give up on everything and just retreat to my bed with a pint of ice cream. But I suppose for me at the end of the day, I know that it’s my duty, as a citizen of this world, to never stop learning and fighting for what is right. I know that every day is another chance to learn and grow and improve myself, so I (usually) get out of bed.
As someone who dons the Hijab, do you think it empowers you in any way?
Yes! That’s actually the point (which, unfortunately much of the “West” fails to see)! The Hijab is not oppressive but empowering and emancipating—by covering my skin and dressing modestly I am able to force others to judge me not for my body shape or looks, but for this crazy thing called character or intelligence. The Hijab also enables me to focus less on my appearance—something that modern society says that women should be obsessing over. In this way, I really feel freed (hence the blog name)!
What do you consider your greatest achievement in social action in your blogging experience?
I think my greatest achievement as a social action blogger has been changing the way people think. I feel successful (and incredibly grateful) when one of my readers emails me telling me that they have cleansed and minimized their wardrobes (I have a running “minimal wardrobe” series), want to start incorporating social action into their own fashion/lifestyle blogs, no longer shop at companies on the Boycott List, or their entire preconception—based on what they’ve heard in the media—of Iran or Islam has been turned upside down. My readers are what keep me going.
Tell us a story about someone that changed your life, and how you’ve changed theirs.
One of my good friends can’t be pulled away from his books. I, on the other hand, largely cannot sit at my desk for longer than 5 minutes. He taught me to love learning rather than learning because I have to pass my exams, and that it’s okay if you spend days locked up in your room reading and studying and working hard, because there is a certain joy to learning that I have previously unknown. On the other side, I think helped him a certain independence from his books—that it’s okay to miss a deadline if you are doing something you love, that relationships are more important than grades, and that life is supposed to have a bit of spontaneity from time to time.
Favourite quote that you live by?
“Respond to every call that excites your spirit” – Rumi, my favorite poet.
We are inspired by Hoda’s vision of mindful consumption and her beliefs, and are proud to have her as Fieldtester, a group of inspiring friends that regularly test MATTER products in their workplace and travels to help us improve durability and design. Hoda is wearing The Easy Dhoti + Indus Arrow Red, Size 1.