Hoda Katebi, an Iranian American fashion blogger, was ambushed earlier this month on WGN, a US television network by the station’s host who accused her of not being American after Katebi criticized her country’s policy in the Middle East.
Katebi, who runs the popular fashion blog JooJoo Azad, appeared on-air to talk about her new book Tehran Streetstyle. The interview started off with questions about her experiences as an Iranian American growing up in Oklahoma, to which Katebi explained the difficulties she faced as a child wearing the hijab.
The 23-year-old blogger recalled how she was bullied, physically assaulted, having her headscarf pulled off, and how these experiences led her to her work today, which mainly looks at fashion in different ways, specifically on how people dress and how what we wear impacts how others engage with us.
The interview then took a sudden hostile turn away from its purpose into a session of being quizzed about politics and warfare by co-host Larry Potash, who asked the fashion blogger to speak about Iran, specifically to respond to some viewers who he claimed might say they don’t trust the country.
Katebi, who looked obviously taken aback by the non-related line of questioning, gracefully answered, explaining that she sees herself as a pacifist, and noted that “I don’t think we can trust this country [the US]”, touching on the “legacy of imperialism and colonization in the Middle East” by the United States.
Co-host Baumgarten followed the blogger’s comments with an aggressive accusation, saying, “a lot of Americans might take offence to that. You’re an American, you don’t sound like an American when you say […] you know what I mean.”
“That’s because I’ve read,” Katebi replied, adding that it was important for people to “look beyond these really simple narratives that we’re told, whether it’s about Muslim women, whether it’s about the legacy of this country, knowing that this country literally was built on the back of” enslaved African people and after the genocide of indigenous people.
Following the interview fraught with what she says are micro-aggressions, Katebi spoke to Glamour saying, “It was a very powerful moment because you’re telling someone who’s visibly Muslim on live TV, for a large audience, [that she] doesn’t sound American? That of course perpetuates all sorts of biases: Always being foreign, always being other, always being incompatible with the West.”