We Saudi Arabian women have a love-hate relationship with our abaya. It adds to our personality and also adds to our pains.
Whether you’re a simple black abaya lady or a colored abaya girl, you will relate to
all at least a few of the following struggles.
1. Our sleeves love our food.
The food is delicious and our big abaya sleeves seem to know this! Why else would they keep landing in our food?! They look good but they’re just too big and intrusive for the dining table. Sadly most beautiful ‘dinner’ or ‘party’ abayas usually have gorgeous big sleeves!
2. Tripping on the stairs.
Most abayas are flowy and long. This means that every time we take the stairs we have to hold our abayas up. Our hands are not always free! We might have a coffee and books or shopping bags in our hands and it becomes a task to just climb up a few steps.
3. Escalator traps.
If you choose to use an escalator instead, it’s likely that your abaya will get stuck at some point. This can be really risky! So we have to hold it up anyway. Sigh.
4. Who says size doesn’t matter?!
It matters a great deal to us! If you’re a certain height it becomes nearly impossible to find an abaya that’s not ‘too long or too short’. If you’re on the healthier side and short at the same time, chances are you probably need to get your abaya trimmed from the bottom! If you’re tall and slim you probably need to get your abaya trimmed. It’s a madhouse of abayas!
5. The Curious Case of Buttons.
Aside from the great literary allusion, we’re referring to the craziness of abaya buttons. 9 out of 10 times the buttons fall off within weeks. Or they just randomly burst open when we’re out and about. We get out of the car and the first thing we have to do is button up because sitting just opened them all. We’re sure it takes a minute per button to tighten it up, but alas….
6. The Dirty Abaya Ombre
It’s a thing and it exists. We live in a desert so naturally our black abayas pick up dust and dirt wherever we go. Unfortunately we have to keep washing our abaya to keep it clean and to stop it from looking like it’s the only thing we own.
7. Abaya spills and stains.
It’s a great pain when you’re wearing a light color abaya and spill coffee or a drink on yourself. It’s even worse if you’re at work or university and can’t get a replacement. In fact, it’s impossible to get a replacement almost always and we have to make do with a quick spot wash in the bathroom. Food stains are easier to handle unless a whole plate of spaghetti falls on your lap.
8. It’s an oven.
Darker colors absorb more heat that lighter ones, so our abaya gets really hot in the summer. In fact, it’s torturous even with a white abaya because it’s just too hot! It’s a desert! And it makes us doubly sweaty and itchy when it’s humid.
9. Our abaya doesn’t like to jog.
But we love jogging. We’re pretty sure the major reason not all women go out for walks and jogs is because of how workout unfriendly the abaya is. We have to stop it from getting in the way and making us trip.
10. It’s a High Heel Hater.
That’s no joke. If you wear high heels its likely to get stuck at the bottom of the abaya and make you lose your balance. Our heart goes out to all the girls who just wanted to look nicer. If the heel is thin enough it might get stuck and rip a hole. How lovely!
11. Desert Winds.
It gets windy in Jeddah and Riyadh. If the tarha is loose just a tiny bit it’s likely to unwrap and blow in the wind. The abaya does the same and either reveals whatever we’re wearing or makes us go through the whole Marilyn Monroe pose.
12. Killer abaya. Literally.
Our abaya tricks up and tries to kill us when we sit and the abaya rides up to our neck and tries to strangle us. The same goes for long tarhas which get wrapped weirdly and almost choke us.
13. The varying Abaya norms.
What’s okay to wear in Jeddah is not so okay in Riyadh or even Taif. If we frequently visit the more conservative cities we need to keep black abayas just for that because colored abayas are not favored.