First lady Michelle Obama chose to forgo wearing a headscarf at an event Tuesday to commemorate the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah during her and the president’s trip to that country, the Associated Press reports.
Her decision is not that controversial, since foreign women can opt out of the Islamic tradition. But according to AP, her attire—loosely fitted pants, a blouse and a long-sleeved jacket—inadvertently shed light on the “stark limitations” placed upon Saudi women.
During the appearance, some Saudi officials—all men—shook hands with Michelle Obama, while others chose to nod at her instead. The latter represented the reverence—or lack thereof, depending on one’s view—given to women by those who adhere to Shariah, or Islamic law.
AP described life for Saudi women under those guidelines: Women are not allowed to drive, and “guardianship laws” require that they get permission from a male relative in order “to travel, get married, enroll in higher education or undergo certain surgical procedures.”
Read more at the Associated Press.