The new congresswoman from Michigan wore a thobe, a traditional Palestinian dress with elaborate embroidery, to her swearing-in, and her supporters posted photos of themselves in their own.

As Rashida Tlaib arrived on Capitol Hill to be sworn into the House of Representatives on Thursday, she was wearing a distinctive outfit: a traditional Palestinian thobe, or dress, adorned with the elaborate, hand-stitched embroidery known as tatreez.

Ms. Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan who is the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress, had posted a photo of the dress on Instagram on Dec. 14, garnering 11,000 likes — but also criticisms, including racist comments.

That spurred a supporter, the novelist Susan Muaddi Darraj, to create a plan to celebrate Ms. Tlaib’s achievement and educate people about Palestinian embroidery, which is loaded with symbolism and traditionally done by women. She came up with the hashtag #TweetYourThobe, intended as a call to action, and started a private Facebook group.

In two weeks, it grew to 8,000 members. And on Thursday, they went public, sharing photos of themselves and loved ones wearing thobes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“I’ve just been tearing up all day looking at some of these pictures,” Ms. Darraj said on Thursday afternoon, speaking by phone from Baltimore.

“It’s especially moving when you see women wearing thobes that their great-grandmothers made by hand,” she added. “It’s just extraordinary, and it’s a visual testament to the relationships between mothers and daughters that we have in our culture, and I think other people can relate to that.”

In an article for Elle published on Thursday, Ms. Tlaib explained why she decided to wear the thobe.

“Throughout my career in public service, the residents I have had the privilege of fighting for have embraced who I am, especially my Palestinian roots,” she wrote. “This is what I want to bring to the United States Congress, an unapologetic display of the fabric of the people in this country.”

She described her experience as a girl watching her mother, who came to the United States at age 20, hand-stitch the traditional dresses.

“Just like any immigrant parent, she wants all of her children to succeed, but without giving up on our roots and culture,” Ms. Tlaib wrote. She added a special hashtag for her mother in her Instagram post: #ForMyYama, an Arabic word for mother.


Source: The New York Times