The Time Magazine’s article (November 5, 2015) titled, “Is Iran finally ready for change?” begins with the following passage:

“The politics of Iran may be relentlessly convoluted, but for years it was possible to judge at least the general direction of things by doing a little girl watching. Or, at least, trying to. Hijab that can be worn snug as a nun’s wimple or loose as a suggestion – was of immense importance to Iranian hard-liners, who like Romantic poets and Miss Clairol equated hair with sexuality, a quality strictly forbidden in public."

I cannot get an idea of the meaning and analogy of ‘(Hijab) worn snug as a nun’s wimple or “loose as a suggestion.”’ What does it mean? Is “loose as a suggestion” a popular set of words?

  • The unfortunateness of the phrase 'by doing a little girl watching' is absolutely astounding on a staggering scale. I'm flummoxed at how it ever passed Time's editors to actually make it into publication. Jan 8, 2016 at 8:10
  • @BenjaminHarman Why, what is wrong with it? Aside from a possible lost hyphen it seems to adequately covey the author's meaning that observing the current female fashion in Iran is a suitable barometer to the religious politics in play...
    – Marv Mills
    Jan 8, 2016 at 10:11
  • @Benjamin Hamrman. I suspect you were flummoxed beause you read the quote 'by doing a little-girl wattching.'. But if you read it as 'by doing a little (while) a girl-watching,'.are you still angry? I'm asking this because mere girl watching by young men doesn't seem so unusual and loose behavior to me. May be I'm reading wrong. Jan 8, 2016 at 10:15
  • 2
    @Marv Mills : The phrase "by doing a little girl watching" creates a double-entendre whose other meaning couches pedophilia, and it doesn't appear accidental. The entire paragraph is steeped in sexual innuendo. Snug as a nun's wimple? Loose as a suggestion? Please. Jan 8, 2016 at 11:34
  • 1
    @BenjaminHarman I haven't read the rest of the article, but I don't see it myself. You know a "wimple" is a nun's bonnet right? You have heard the song "Music to Watch Girls By", right? YMMV, of course, but I don't see it as "steeped in sexual innuendo" at all, if I had to judge its innuendo out of ten, I'd give it one.
    – Marv Mills
    Jan 8, 2016 at 12:04

2 Answers 2


In your example sentence, the right clip should be as follows:

Hijab that can be worn snug as a nun’s wimple / or loose as a suggestion...

The bold parts are being contrasted. Loose as a suggestion is not an idiom or popular set of words.

Suggestion means:

A slight indication of something

Snug means:

Very tight or close-fitting

The adjective loose is an antonym of snug.

So your example could be rephrased to:

Hijab (which was not allowed to be worn loosely in the past) can be worn (either) very tightly like a nun’s wimple or loosely as a suggestion of change (from the past in terms of sexuality, attitude, and way of thinking) of a woman...

Now it is allowed for Iranian women to wear Hijab more loosely than before to express their attitude or way of thinking towards sexuality.

[Oxford Online Dictionary]


No, it is not a popular set of words. Loose as a suggestion is a simile apparently devised by the author of that article (judging by the fact that all Google hits for that collocation point right to it).

Apparently the author perceives (many) suggestions as inherently loose (reading vague perhaps), which grounds the simile here. Another reading, bordering on guesswork of course, may be loose as a suggestion of a Hijab, meaning that the wearer can express herself by adjusting her Hijab loosely rather than tightly.

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