*Nurzihan Hassim, Md Sidin Ahmad Ishak & Shahreen Mat Nayan
Veiling or wearing the hijab is a practice of Islamic faith. As a Muslim country, the progressive socio-political and economic landscape in Malaysia prescribed predominantly Malay women as proponents of the hijab in various communication channels. In this study, the identity of Malay-Muslim women is explored through representations of the hijab in media that create desire among media consumers to embrace a more modern yet Islamic lifestyle. The emergence of these media messages has minimal relation to piety and is sending the wrong ideals to aspiring young women. The objectives of the study were to determine: 1) the perceptions of media consumers on the hijab, 2) factors that influence their acceptance of the hijab, and 3) the relationship between Malay-Muslim women and hijab through their media use. The study interviewed media practitioners and analysed discussions on selected articles from a Malay online entertainment portal. The study found that the hijab culture is fundamental as a media commodity and as an integral element to the identity of Malay-Muslims. The significance of this exploratory study is to generate an understanding on mass media as an agent of socialization and consequently establishing that the hijab phenomenon in Malaysia has shaped a societal structure through the convergence of Islam and Malay-Muslim culture.
Keywords: Cultural identity, content analysis, hijab, consumer culture, uses and gratifications