Macy's becomes first major department store in the U.S. to sell hijabs.

Just in time for New York Fashion Week, Macy's announced it will be partnering with a modest fashion line for Muslim women.

Photo via Macy's.

Starting Feb. 15, the retail giant will feature an assortment of hijabs, cardigans, abayas, and dresses from the Verona Collection on Macys.com.


Lisa Vogl, founder of the Verona Collection, is a graduate of The Workshop, Macy's business development program for minority and/or women entrepreneurs. After her conversion to Islam in 2011, the single mother quickly realized how rare it is to find affordable, trendy modest clothing — and that "many other women, both Muslim and non-Muslim, felt the same way" — so she decided to launch her own fashion line.

But the Verona Collection, according to Vogl, is doing more than simply creating affordable, trendy clothes: The brand represents a new diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry.

“Verona Collection is more than a clothing brand. It’s a platform for a community of women to express their personal identity and embrace fashion that makes them feel confident on the inside and outside," said Vogl in a Macy's press release.

This isn't the first time major retailers have catered to Muslim women.

A recent example came in December, when Nike released a sports hijab in response to the growing worldwide trend of female Muslim participation in athletics.

In June 2015, Uniqlo launched a collection with British-Japanese Muslim fashion designer Hana Tajima also featuring hijabs and long dresses in their UK, Singapore, and online stores. That same summer, DKNY released a Ramadan-themed collection aimed at Muslim women, and the famed designers and retail brands Oscar de la Renta and Zara followed suit.

In January 2016, Dolce & Gabanna announced their own line of hijabs and abayas. Major international retailer H&M featured hijab-wearing model Mariah Idrissi in their Close the Loop campaign.

Here's what makes Macy's modest clothing line particularly special: It's the first major department store in the United States to sell hijabs.  

Photo via Macy's.

Macy's, founded in 1858, is one of the few old-school giant department stores left in the U.S., making their latest efforts to expand their customer demographic to include Muslim women a huge milestone for the rapidly evolving fashion industry.

Azmia Magane, an Orlando-based writer and marketing specialist for Muslim consumers, applauds the new partnership.

"I'm really excited to see Verona Collection as an offering at Macy's," she said to Upworthy. "It's a win not just for Macy's and Muslim women, but any women looking for modest fashions. It also sends a message of inclusivity that's vital in today's sociopolitical climate: Muslims are welcome here."

Maryam Sarhan, a 22-year-old in Washington, D.C., said that she hopes Macy's is just the first of many other big-name retailers to create modest fashion lines for women of faith.

"I'm pleased to see a department store like Macy's diversify their collection and offer more options for women of various backgrounds and beliefs to feel beautiful," Sarhan said. "I hope other companies follow this example with an open mind."

Aysha Khan, who's worn the hijab since elementary school, doesn't really see the difference between buying hijabs at big retail stores and from smaller Muslim vendors. Still, she's excited that there are more options — and a platform for Muslim women designers.

"I'm mostly excited about this move as it uplifts Muslim women designers," the 22-year-old Denver journalist told Upworthy. "I'm always here for bigger brands and platforms giving Muslim women opportunities in the mainstream fashion industry."

However, some Muslim women are asking an important question about the booming trend of modest fashion lines: at what cost?

Photo via Macy's.

There is a concern among some Muslim women that consumerism is hijacking their faith.

Mediha Sandhu, 34, considers herself to a part of the Muslim women consumer market. While she sees the value and optimism in Islamic fashion recognized nationally by such a staple in American culture, she still can't help feeling a bit perplexed.

"I also feel sort of at a loss that something unique and intimate, like a small business, has become mass-produced, and hijabis are the targets for mass consumption," Sandhu told Upworthy. "It's like my favorite secret spot became a tourist attraction, where the secret spot is Muslim hijabi stores."

Binta Nur, a 25-year-old Muslim hijabi from Philadelphia, where she says "Muslim women make careers by catering to their sisters," is skeptical of the modest fashion partnerships like Verona Collection and Macy's.

"I'm not a fan," Nur said in an interview with Upworthy. "They are just trying to capitalize on this market. Like, there are Orthodox Jews and Christians who wear head coverings and [are] just [as] conservative."

Worried that the trend will quash independent female Muslim entrepreneurs, she added, "This is going to put so many Muslim-owned companies out of business."

Yet for many, this broad effort to tap into the Muslim women market is also good for business.

Photo via Macy's.

In 2013, Fortune reported that Muslims spent around $266 billion worldwide on clothing and shoes. That's roughly more than Italy and Japan's spending put together. But that figure is expected to rise in 2019, according to the 2015 Thomson Reuters State of Global Islamic Economy report — to about $484 billion.

Today, Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions, and its booming population could have something to do with the rapidly expanding market. For instance, Pew Research Center estimates that, by 2050, the world's Muslim population in the world will equal that of Christians.

Sabiha Ansari, co-founder of the American Muslim Consumer Consortium, said that she's spent a lot of time and effort explaining to businesses the benefits of tapping into the Muslim consumer market.

"It's about time," Ansari told Upworthy. "We have been raising awareness about the American Muslim consumer market and its spending power since 2009. I applaud Macy's on pursuing an emerging new consumer."

She adds that it's not only Muslim women who will be interested in the new line of clothing: "I wouldn't just limit modest clothing to Muslim women alone. There are plenty of Jewish and [Christian] women who can be potential customers as well."

There is a long road ahead, but these seem like the right first steps.

While I like to support small businesses, I'm mostly excited about this move as it uplifts Muslim women designers.

Still, I'm always here for bigger brands and platforms giving Muslim women opportunities in the mainstream fashion industry — even if these first steps are imperfect for now.

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Photo by Gregory Hayes on Unsplash

"Can I buy you a drink?" is a loaded question.

It could be an innocent request from someone who's interested in having a cordial conversation. Other time, saying "yes" means you may have to fend off someone who feels entitled to spend the rest of the night with you.

In the worst-case scenario, someone is trying to take advantage of you or has a roofie in their pocket.

Feminist blogger Jennifer Dziura found a fool-proof way to stay safe while understanding someone's intentions: ask for a non-alcoholic beverage or food. If they're sincerely interested in spending some time getting to know you, they won't mind buying something booze-free.

RELATED: States are starting to require mental health classes for all students. It's about dang time.

But if it's their intention to lower your defenses, they'll throw a mild tantrum after you refuse the booze. Her thoughts on the "Can I buy you a drink?" conundrum made their way to Tumblr.

via AshleysCo / Tumblr


via AshleysCo / Tumblr

The posts caught the attention of a bartender who knows there are lot of men out there whose sole intention is to get somone drunk to take advantage.

"Most of the time, when someone you don't know is buying you a drink, they're NOT doing it out of a sense of cordiality," the bartender wrote. "They're buying you a drink for the sole purpose of making you let your guard down."

So they shared a few tips on how to be safe and social when someone asks to buy you a drink.

From the other side of the bar, I see this crap all the time. Seriously. I work at a high-density bar, and let me tell you, I have anywhere from 10-20 guys every night come up and tell me to, "serve her a stronger drink, I'm trying to get lucky tonight, know what I mean?" usually accompanied with a wink and a gesture at a girl who, in my experience, is going to go from mildly buzzed to definitively hammered if I keep serving her. Now, I like to think I'm a responsible bartender, so I usually tell guys like that to piss off, and, if I can, try to tell the girl's more sober friends that they need to keep an eye on her.
But everyone- just so you know, most of the time, when someone you don't know is buying you a drink, they're NOT doing it out of a sense of cordiality, they're buying you a drink for the sole purpose of making you let your guard down.

Tips for getting drinks-

1. ALWAYS GO TO THE BAR TO GET YOUR OWN DRINK, DO NOT LET STRANGERS CARRY YOUR DRINKS. This is an opportune time for dropping something into your cocktail, and you're none the wiser.

2.IF YOU ORDER SOMETHING NON-ALCOHOLIC, I promise you, the bartender doesn't give two shits that you're not drinking cocktails with your friends, and often, totally understands that you don't want to let your guard down around strangers. Usually, you can just tell the bartender that you'd like something light, and that's a big clue to us that you're uncomfortable with whomever you're standing next to. Again, we see this all the time.

3. If you're in a position to where you feel uncomfortable not ordering alcohol:
Here's a list of light liquors, and mixers that won't get you drunk, and will still look like an actual cocktail:

X-rated + sprite = easy to drink, sweet, and 12% alcoholic content. Not strong at all, usually runs $6-$8, depending on your state.
Amaretto + sour= sweet, not strong, 26%.
Peach Schnapps+ ginger ale= tastes like mellow butterscotch, 24%.
Melon liquor (Midori, in most bars) + soda water = not overly sweet, 21%
Coffee liquor (Kahlua) +soda = not super sweet, 20%.
Hope this helps someone out!

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If you do accept a drink from someone at a bar and you want to talk, there's no need to feel obligated to spend the rest of the night with them.

Jaqueline Whitmore, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, says to be polite you only have to "Engage in some friendly chit-chat, but you are not obligated to do more than that."

If someone asks to buy you a drink and you don't want it, Whitmore has a great tip. "Say thank you, but you are trying to cut back, have to drive or you don't accept drinks from strangers," Whitmore says.

What if they've already sent the drink over? "Give the drink to the bartender and tell him or her to enjoy it," Whitmore says.

Have fun. Stay safe, and make sure to bring a great wing-man or wing-woman with you.

Well Being
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Jasmine has been used as a natural treatment for depression, anxiety, and stress for thousands of years. Oil from the plant has also been used to treat insomnia and PMS, and is considered a natural aphrodisiac. It turns out, our ancestor's instincts to slather on the oil when they wanted a little R&R were correct.

A study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and according to Professor Hanns Hatt of the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, revealed that jasmine can calm you down when you're feeling anxious.The results can "be seen as evidence of a scientific basis for aromatherapy."

"Instead of a sleeping pill or a mood enhancer, a nose full of jasmine from Gardenia jasminoides could also help, according to researchers in Germany. They have discovered that the two fragrances Vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513) have the same molecular mechanism of action and are as strong as the commonly prescribed barbiturates or propofol," says the study.

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Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is a name you should remember. If you don't follow politics closely, remember his name because he's the first Republican in Congress to openly join the call for a renewed federal ban on assault weapons.

If you're a Democrat or a diehard progressive partisan, remember his name because it's proof that as a nation we can put principles before party and walk across the political aisle to get things done.

If you're a Republican, remember his name as evidence that real leadership in politics sometimes means risking your reputation to do what is right even when most of your colleagues disagree or lack the political courage to go first.

But let's allow Rep. King to explain himself in his own words:

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Democracy