Amal Hagisufi: Shattering Traditional Norms

Amal Hagisufi is a Financial Advisor by day and a blogger by night. She curates a blog (Doses of Her) which is an extension of her creativity, passion and inspirations. Amal writes, on her blog and elsewhere, about food, travel, beauty and fashion. Born in the beautiful country of Somalia, she found her way to the US via Switzerland. She currently resides in San Diego. In her story, she explores the trials and tribulations she encountered as a result of her identity, and her legacy for the future.

I will not dim my light because you feel uncomfortable.

My upbringing as a Muslim woman in a western country meant that I was going to have to come to terms with the duality of my identity. For the most part, I did pretty well managing school and home life; I was one person at home and another at school. I understood the difficulties of having to live this way very early on, and I yearned for a space where I could explore my complete self and the person I truly wanted to be. I quickly realized that going away to school was going to be my key to freedom.

I decided to attend UCLA – close enough to my home in San Diego to allow me to stay connected to my family but far enough for me to become independent. I signed up for an education in economics but what I got in return was much more. I discovered who I was and why I had been fighting for so long. I had an affinity to feminism in a community that emphasized marriage and motherhood. I quickly realized that I wanted more. I have, since then, continued to fight for racial and gender equity.

The fight quietly continues, every day. I was recently having a conversation with an individual, a close family friend, wherein they disclosed their belief that women should be judged based on their appearance. These kinds of beliefs are common in my religious community, but it was still shocking to hear a man rationalizing the idea that a women’s worth is inextricably linked to her appearance.

Although I have continuously empowered the women that have surrounded me throughout the years, in this conversation, I felt that I was the one who needed the encouragement. I had done so much work to advocate for others that I didn’t realize that as a Muslim woman I often need to be advocated for. Time and time again, I am reminded of the misogyny that hurts us all – women and men. Instead of teaching our young boys to grow up to respect women and their bodies, we are continuously policing the bodies of women. We spend our entire lives feeling insecure and not fully confident, just to be shamed again and again for our appearance.

I come from a conservative background and I am used to the idea that women should be covered up. It is not uncommon for the women of my community to be covered with head wraps and skirts. Islam preaches modesty. However, modesty means different things to different people. An individual that lives in a society where everyone is covered from head to toe is going to have different views on modesty than living in a society where wearing bikinis are natural. True women’s empowerment doesn’t strive to make a choice for women; it pushes women to do as they desire and what makes them comfortable.

This is the reason I started my blog, Doses of Her, in the first place, in addition to being a financial advisor. I have a strong love for creativity and expression through fashion, as well as a passion for financial independence and empowerment–both of which are essential to ending the oppression of women. I want to be a role model for other women who are struggling to be independent and are yearning to find themselves. I hope that some little girl somewhere will be able to identify with my journey and therefore be able to pursue her own dreams.

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