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Nice Things In 2018 With NPR Politics Podcast Co-Host Asma Khalid


December is a time when many of us take a pause from the daily grind to feel gratitude and appreciation for things in our lives that bring us happiness. With that in mind, we've been asking NPR podcast hosts this simple question - what gave you joy this year, especially if it was unexpected? My colleague Michel Martin posed this question to NPR Politics Podcast host Asma Khalid.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: So you know this about me, but maybe listeners don't, but I adore fashion, clothing of all sorts. And so I sort of stumbled upon this Instagram channel online retailer that I have been, I would say, rather obsessed with all year. It's called The Modist, and its sort of brand image style is that it's trying to present, quote-unquote, "modest clothing" to women. But it's very aspirational kind of luxury fashion. So, in all candor, I can probably afford, like, 1 percent of the stuff on their website. But it's very aspirational.


KHALID: And I look at it, and it's so beautiful. And there's a whole lot of reasons why I've sort of been just fascinated with this. I find myself, like, you know, late at night when I can't sleep just scrolling through (laughter).

MICHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: I'm so excited that you admitted this because everyone knows we are very serious journalists, but we also like to look fabulous. And (laughter) I was wondering, you know, why you think it is that we still like to look at things that we perfectly well know we're not going to buy, we can't buy?


MARTIN: We're not going to look like those ladies.

KHALID: (Laughter).

MARTIN: But why do you think we like it so much? What do you think?

KHALID: For me, I feel like it's an extension of our own personality and our own character and sort of how we see ourselves. It's the same way that I think, like, people will ask, why do you go to art museums? I see clothing in kind of the same way. It's beautiful, and it sort of sparks your own creativity of what you could do by mixing and matching things in your own closet.

MARTIN: And why is having this particular site so joyful for you - just it sparked such joy, this particular site highlighting modest clothing has been...

KHALID: Yeah, so...

MARTIN: Is there anything else like it that you've been able to find?

KHALID: Not really. And I should say this for listeners who might not know what I look like (laughter). So I am a Muslim, and I do wear a headscarf. But I should preface this by saying that the site itself I think is very clearly non-denominational. And so they will highlight sometimes Muslim women, but they'll often highlight pictures of Kate Middleton.

And so their version of modesty is just this overall vision of clothing that is somewhat, like, loose-fitting. It's basically not sheer, it's not too tight and there's no, like, extremely plunging necklines. That's kind of the one consistent factor of that. And what I will say is that when you look at a lot of clothing in places, it's not always that easy to find things that kind of meet those three characteristics. So I've just been amazed that there are so many dresses available that fit that niche, and, a lot of times, it doesn't feel like that.

MARTIN: So, before we let you go, how would you encourage other people to find that joy if they don't have a particular need or interest in modest fashion, per se? Do you - any tips kind of finding something that would spark that creativity or that sense of delight?

KHALID: Yeah. I mean, so for me, I was saying it's fashion in part because I find that it's - it makes me really value how I can look at the world creatively, right? So I would say (laughter) the things that bring you joy are the things where you find yourself when you are kind of bored at night, and you really can't sleep, you find yourself going again and again to those websites. And I would say, hey, look - there's no harm in it. Just don't buy everything on there.

MARTIN: (Laughter) That's Asma Khalid, one of the hosts of the NPR Politics Podcast.

Asma, thank you so much for talking with us.

KHALID: You're welcome.


RUPAUL: (Singing) You better work... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.