The publishing world is slowly coming around to the fact that stories are more authentic when they are written by the people living them. 2018 thankfully continued to give us female Muslim characters in children’s fiction, young adult and adult fiction. This year is looking to give us even more. Huda Fahmy’s Yes, I’m Hot in This: the Hilarious Truth about Life in a Hijab is a great addition to the #MuslimShelfSpace.
The first time I heard of Huda Fahmy and her web comic “Yes, I’m Hot in This” was here on MMW. I started following her on Twitter and her comics became funny little spots on my feed. Simply put, Fahmy’s comics make me laugh. Many of her comics focus on what it’s like to be an American Muslim wearing hijab in Houston, Texas. But a lot of the comics just “share the silly ― sometimes stressful ― idiosyncrasies of our day-to-day lives,” like her relationship with her husband, Gehad, not disappointing her mother and food. Plus, they answer age old questions like “aren’t you hot in that?”
Hijab wearing Muslim women are often given the job of spokesperson for Islam that they’ve never applied for. Yes, I’m Hot in This is a culmination of all the ways some hijabis deal with microaggressions from non-Muslims and Muslims alike. The book is separated into six chapters that cover Huda’s background, clapbacks to Islamophobes, her marriage, representation in the media and her hope for future interactions with people. Hijabi Muslims will find themselves nodding along to the double standards and questions from random strangers. They’ll laugh at her wishful thinking; shopping from an online modest Islamic shop only to find it never fits right. Or the million and one hijabs in the drawer only to keep pulling out the same tried and true favorite. Yep, I’ve been there.
Characters like Darius, the FBI agent assigned to surveilling their home and Susan the clueless white lady who refuses to learn, appear throughout the book reminding us that, just like real life, there’s no escaping them. Growing up, we used to joke all the time about FBI tapping our phones because the reality is just too grim. That’s the beauty of comedy. It helps us get through the tougher times. But it’s even better when it comes from someone who’s in on the joke. Someone who is just as affected by the policies and hate.
Yes, I’m Hot in This centers hijabi women but can be enjoyed by anyone reading it. It’s a breath of fresh air to read comics with a visibly Muslim character who doesn’t feel suffocated by her hijab or Islam. She isn’t self-hating; she prays (gasp!); she fasts (gasp!); and she got married through Islamic channels (double gasp!). Huda is proud to be Muslim, if only everyone else would believe her!
Fahmy started her comics to tell her own stories. I’m glad she did because so many of her stories are mine too. This book is definitely worth a read. With bright illustrations and laugh out loud scenarios, it makes a great coffee table book. Right next to the blow-up couch.