Beacon bearers of an ancient culture lost to the sands of time, Baloch-Canadian sisters, Halima and Sarah Hossinzehi, flaunt their richly embroidered Baloch garbs both on and off the court to mark their proud heritage. In today’s time and day, it’s easy for one to lose touch with their traditional roots, amid the whirlwind of progressive, culture-fluid fashion and globe-centric, one-size-fits-all trends.
The drift of liberal thought that originally laid the foundation for modern fashion and reform, has today, in certain facets of society become a force of cultural intolerance and virtue signalling among elites. Ironically the very principle of ‘tolerant and progressive thinking’ that is long forgotten is that of empathizing even with communities that bear views, antithetic to our own. Many fail to acknowledge how simple practices like wearing customary garbs/hijabs, reciting prayers or celebrating traditional festivals have instilled a sense of belonging and empowerment among generations of women from ethnic minorities world-wide.
A fancy trust-fund, inheritance worth acres of real estate or Ivy-league legacies are not something students from humble backgrounds can usually brag about. In this sea of monotonous back-stories and silver-spoon upbringings, what truly stands out is the pride-imbuing tale of bold Baloch sisters, Halima, Fahima and Sarah Hossinzehi. Scions of what is today a forgotten-culture, the sisters are unapologetic when it comes to repping elegant ‘Boch-embroidered’ dresses while on the court or rocking vibrant hijabs otherwise.
For Halima and Sarah Hossinzehi, sports and exercise have been an inseparable element of their lifestyle; one that is defined by a balance between traditional living and progressive thinking. They aim to encourage Baloch women to foray into sports and take-up healthy habits like exercise, that has for the most part been a male domain in their community.
Inspired by Kuwaiti digital creator Mas Bloushi’s pioneering work surrounding Islamic culture and basketball shoots, the sisters aimed to encapsulate both, a flavour of their ancient heritage and a taste of the modern sport through their recent concept shoot. Captured by Halima’s husband Mustafa, images featuring the sisters playing ball, clad in their opulent Baloch dresses have spurred ripples across social media. The dresses in the frame are no ordinary fits from fast-fashion catalogues but are richly embroidered hand-stitched fabrics created by the zealous trio themselves. In addition, the love-imbued stitching that went into bringing these dresses to life, triangular designs, diamond embroidery and other embellishments are what make them truly special.
The iconic stills portray the sisters shooting hoops in style with court backgrounds morphed digitally. This juxtaposition of Desi (traditional) Baloch fashion with an urban basketball aesthetic are what impart the now-viral photo series its distinct feel.
In addition to how visually-flattering the images are, what truly makes them significant is the flawlessness with which they portray the aspirations of the Baloch-diaspora world-wide and capture the imagination of women who’ve battled discrimination in general. The series empowers women by destigmatising their participation in male-dominant social tropes like sport and basketball.
The series of fluid-images educates viewers on how to preserve their monochromatic roots to culture while colouring their everyday life with simple shades of progressive thoughts and Idea. The images hold a mirror to society, explaining how one’s background, upbringing and culture should never be subjects of shame, but an insignia of pride. It should be okay for women around the world to emulate their religious beliefs when dressing, in form of hijabs, face coverings etc, while dabbling in modern pursuits like sport and exercise, long considered taboo by communities preaching backward ideas of that very same religion. It normalizes a lifestyle that juxtaposes the richness of their culture with the spirit of modern thinking.
“I am Baloch, I am a girl and I play basketball. I may come from a background that is voiceless, but I do have a voice” Halima tells Vogue magazine, during an interview over her sensational stills. The visual-series inspires women to clasp the reigns of their life firmly while dictate their own choices. It galvanizes Baloch women around the world to come together in solidarity and take pride in their shared background, experiences and rich heritage.
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