For a teenager obsessed with legs, hips, how awful you look from behind, to be able to step out protected by that cave of black would have given me a carefree youth. And when I think of my despair at and hatred for my nose, my skin, my hair, the bonus of being able to cover all that up too, would have been sheer heaven. Personal bias noted here: Growing up I always heard: "-She has lovely eyes!" (i.e. "At least there's something we can salvage.") So for me, the whole black outfit was just tailor made.
Well, you may say: we in the west have sweats- but sweat pants are clingy. And the western version of Don't look at my shape- the caftan - is so forlorn. Unless you are a lean six footer who doesn't need one, you look like an abandoned, graffiti-smothered traffic cone.
Safi, whom I met in Italy all those years ago, the young revolutionary journalist: ("I am the first Arab girl to hitchhike!") has adopted Moslem dress, including the veil. So I was told when I tried to contact her at her Cairo newspaper when I was in Egypt a few years ago. Had she
become ..a devout Moslem? "Well," said one of her colleagues slyly, "when women get to a certain age...it often seems a good idea."