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A world of style in City Heights

Fanny packs, Somalian dresses, and hijabs

Khadija Musame and Madina Mah take a break from their produce stand to pose for a photo
Khadija Musame and Madina Mah take a break from their produce stand to pose for a photo

Mother/daughter pair, Madina Mah and Khadija Musame, infused some serious style into the City Heights farmer’s market with their beautiful and vividly colored traditional Somali Bantu dresses. 21-year-old Mah told me that she always dresses in the style of her culture.

"My mom doesn't like the way American women dress. She watches shows like Modern Family and sees that the men dress in nice suits and the women walk around in bikinis and tight clothes. She doesn't want me to dress like that."

Club Kid Hector Rostro

Musame buys most of their clothing at local City Heights shops.

"My mom used to buy our clothes from the Safari Market but that closed. Now she gets our dresses from a small store on University owned by a Somali woman."

Mah grew up in Kenya and her mother is from Somalia "We identity as Somali Bantu, an ethnic Somalian group," she explained. Mah has lived in San Diego for three years.

"I like the weather the best, and I like that City Heights is so culturally diverse," said Mah.

Youngsters in hijabs in City Heights.

On University, I found Hector Rostro, a fanny-pack-wearing club kid. Rostro works in cosmetology and gets paid (sometimes just in drinks) to attend and perform in drag or in costume at various parties around San Diego.

When asked how many tattoos he had, Rostro paused, counted on his fingers, and answered, "Eight. My sugar candy skull is my favorite. It is in memory of my grandmother and represents my Mexican heritage."

Rostro's current fashion obsessions are crop tops and high-waisted jeans.

"I try to dress like Brooke Candy. She's a white girl rapper from LA. I usually have long extensions in my hair."

Rosotro recently took his ear plugs out, “My dad said they were too much, that I went too far and that I would never get a job, so I took them out. I will have to have surgery to fix them so I am going to put them back in.”

Rostro bought his fanny pack from Fam Mart, an Asian market. His California-labeled shirt was purchased from a shop on University.

Steven Love

Meanwhile, at the City Height’s farmers market, adorable toddler sisters Zakiya and Sumaya snacked on strawberries as their mother shopped for fresh produce. The two girls wore hijabs. While the headpiece is worn mostly by Muslim woman beyond the age of puberty, it is not uncommon for younger children to wear hijabs. Parents often have their young children wear them out in public so that their daughters can practice modesty at a young age or simply to get them accustomed to wearing the hijab.

Further west on University, I found Steven Love.

"City Heights is the only place in San Diego where, in a one street radius, you can decide between west/east African, Thai, or Japanese food," said Love, who recently moved from OB to City Heights.

"I like it much better here," he told me, 'It's much more diverse."

22-year-old Love works for a nonprofit radio station called KNSJ. He describes his style as casual. Love prefers to shop at resale stores like Thrift Trader and Buffalo Exchange.

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Khadija Musame and Madina Mah take a break from their produce stand to pose for a photo
Khadija Musame and Madina Mah take a break from their produce stand to pose for a photo

Mother/daughter pair, Madina Mah and Khadija Musame, infused some serious style into the City Heights farmer’s market with their beautiful and vividly colored traditional Somali Bantu dresses. 21-year-old Mah told me that she always dresses in the style of her culture.

"My mom doesn't like the way American women dress. She watches shows like Modern Family and sees that the men dress in nice suits and the women walk around in bikinis and tight clothes. She doesn't want me to dress like that."

Club Kid Hector Rostro

Musame buys most of their clothing at local City Heights shops.

"My mom used to buy our clothes from the Safari Market but that closed. Now she gets our dresses from a small store on University owned by a Somali woman."

Mah grew up in Kenya and her mother is from Somalia "We identity as Somali Bantu, an ethnic Somalian group," she explained. Mah has lived in San Diego for three years.

"I like the weather the best, and I like that City Heights is so culturally diverse," said Mah.

Youngsters in hijabs in City Heights.

On University, I found Hector Rostro, a fanny-pack-wearing club kid. Rostro works in cosmetology and gets paid (sometimes just in drinks) to attend and perform in drag or in costume at various parties around San Diego.

When asked how many tattoos he had, Rostro paused, counted on his fingers, and answered, "Eight. My sugar candy skull is my favorite. It is in memory of my grandmother and represents my Mexican heritage."

Rostro's current fashion obsessions are crop tops and high-waisted jeans.

"I try to dress like Brooke Candy. She's a white girl rapper from LA. I usually have long extensions in my hair."

Rosotro recently took his ear plugs out, “My dad said they were too much, that I went too far and that I would never get a job, so I took them out. I will have to have surgery to fix them so I am going to put them back in.”

Rostro bought his fanny pack from Fam Mart, an Asian market. His California-labeled shirt was purchased from a shop on University.

Steven Love

Meanwhile, at the City Height’s farmers market, adorable toddler sisters Zakiya and Sumaya snacked on strawberries as their mother shopped for fresh produce. The two girls wore hijabs. While the headpiece is worn mostly by Muslim woman beyond the age of puberty, it is not uncommon for younger children to wear hijabs. Parents often have their young children wear them out in public so that their daughters can practice modesty at a young age or simply to get them accustomed to wearing the hijab.

Further west on University, I found Steven Love.

"City Heights is the only place in San Diego where, in a one street radius, you can decide between west/east African, Thai, or Japanese food," said Love, who recently moved from OB to City Heights.

"I like it much better here," he told me, 'It's much more diverse."

22-year-old Love works for a nonprofit radio station called KNSJ. He describes his style as casual. Love prefers to shop at resale stores like Thrift Trader and Buffalo Exchange.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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