For the past year, I have been struggling to come to peace with my hijab. I have been finding it hard to fully accept the consequences of it. I have tried sorting my thoughts out by myself, I have tried talking to a close friend but none of that has been of help. It doesn’t matter anyway because whether I like it or not, Hijab is a mandate in Islam so I have to follow. It has been 8 years since I decided to wear a hijab and it has not been easy for me.
When I was young, I considered eyeglasses, braces and headscarves as accessories. I believed wearing them would make me look cool. I remember nagging at my mum about wanting to wear eyeglasses until, luckily (not), I became short sighted due to genetic factors so I had to wear them. I can recall my excitement when I went to buy my first ever eyeglasses; I was the happiest little girl in the shop. Little did I know that they would bring me down during bad days. I also remember quite well how I nagged at my mum for two whole years about wanting to become a hijabi until she finally let me be. She tried to advise me not to wear a hijab yet especially that I was only 13 years old then, but I didn’t listen. I was too eager to wear a headscarf and walk down the street as a hijabi. Little did I know that it would destroy my self-confidence at times I needed it the most.
For the first few years of my hijab, it was still okay to wear a long sleeve body suit under a short sleeve shirt and that’s how I rolled back then. I was fine with my style of clothes until I outgrew it. I hated that I had to wear two layers, sometimes even three, instead of one. I hated that I couldn’t just easily buy clothes without thinking of the layers I’ll have to put on. I hated how limited my choice of clothes was. So I decided to change the way I dress; I ditched the body suits and started wearing long sleeve blouses so that way I only wore one layer. I had to overlook the fact that all of my clothes looked the same as there is no variation when it comes to blouses. They are either plain or patterned. I even bought most of them from the same shops my mum bought hers so you can imagine how I felt then! I remember owning the same blouse as my mum’s just in a different color and size. I was a teenage girl who shares the same style of clothes as her mum’s. I never complained about it to anyone, not even to my mum, but to me, it was depressing! I had to put up with it anyway because it was either a woman’s blouse or three layers. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the clothing industry started producing three-quarter sleeve and see-through blouses… which meant I was back to wearing two layers again. I was back to square one! So recently I decided to change the way I dress; I ditched the blouses and started wearing short sleeve shirts and cardigans. And if I want to look less casual, I wear a blouse instead. I dedicated a shopping spree just for shirts; I went for cool comfy ones which I literally live in at the moment. I am currently loving the way I dress, but I am sure I will outgrow it at some point. Because I still hate that I have to wear layers and I still hate how limited my choice of clothes is.
When you decide to wear hijab, no one prepares you for it. No one tells you about the moral idea behind it. No one tells you about the complete list of dos and don’ts. No one tells you about the things you will have to give up and put up with. No one walks you through it. They just buy you a headscarf and expect that you are good to go… which I have come to believe is the cruelest thing one can do.
People need to explain that hijab is more than just a veil for the body. Hijab has a beautiful obvious moral behind it which we choose to neglect and focus on the physical appearance instead. Hijab presents a woman as a human being rather than a sexual object so that she is appreciated for her actual value rather than her external one. It is to protect a woman from the disgusting sexual harassment that we witness daily in the streets, at least to some extent. Hijab is a serious commitment between God and a woman, who willingly chooses to hide her beauty from the whole world for the rest of her life. She hides her beauty while there are women out there who wear make-up, clothes and accessories to show theirs. She hides her beauty while there are women out there who go through surgical operations to show theirs. She hides her beauty from the world and soon she will lose touch with it as well. Just like I did…
When I first got veiled, I thought the only thing I was giving up was my hair. Little did I know that that meant also giving up on girly clothes, girly looks and proper summer holidays. I can’t wear short dresses, I can’t wear knee-length dresses and I can’t wear long dresses without throwing over another layer. I can’t wear hot shorts, I can’t wear shorts, I can’t wear bermuda pants and I can’t wear capri pants. I can’t wear short skirts, I can’t wear knee-length skirts and I can’t wear long skirts without wearing leggings under it. I also can’t wear training leggings as they’re too tight. I can’t wear short jumpsuits or dungarees. Basically, I can’t wear anything other than proper jeans or pants, if I wish to avoid wearing layers. So yes, my choice of clothes is going to be limited for life! My summer holiday clothes are my everyday clothes since I can’t wear beach tops, beach shorts, beach trousers, beach playsuits and beach dresses. They’re either see-through or short or having slits. I can’t get tanned, I can’t have beach hair and I can’t go for a swim (unless you wear a Burkini which it’s not religiously acceptable). Basically, summer holidays only remind me of what I’m missing on because of my hijab. I can’t dye my hair and I can’t do different hairstyles, I mean I can, but who would I show it to? I can’t enjoy my hair so why bother style it in the first place. So yes, by time, as I pay no attention to my hair, I feel less feminine than I truly am because hair has always been a symbol of a woman’s identity, femininity and beauty.
It isn’t just about the religious limitations that come along with the decision of wearing hijab; the world also sets more limitations for us, hijabis. For some non-existent reason, people judge us based on the headscarf we put on. For instance, some people may think we are not cool, we are not fun to hang out with or that we are close-minded. On the personal level, I have been rejected by more than one company before because I am veiled. People also decide for us what we can and cannot do. For instance, some hotels ban us from using their swimming pool, and some restaurants ban us from even stepping foot into their premises. I, personally, heard of someone at work who utterly refuses to work with a hijabi. The worst part is that all of those things happen in Islamic countries, which is ironic because Islam is originally a religion against all forms of racism and discrimination.
So whether they are purposeful religious limitations or stupid ones decided by people, they all pile up and we are expected to deal with them silently. Obviously, we are fine with the religious limitations but we are definitely not fine at all with the other limitations. People hurt us when they judge us, when they discriminate us, when they label us, when they think low of us, and when they bully us. Personally, I have been bullied a few times before because of my hijab. I have been compared to another girl with beautiful long hair by a guy while I was standing with them. I have been called ugly and I have been called an old woman. I have also been told that I am more of a guy than I am of a girl. I remember their exact words because I was hurt, and I still am. Every time someone hurt me with their harsh words or discriminative attitude, it left a deep scar. The worst part was that I couldn’t do anything about it, and I still can’t. And so I just deal with it silently and I move on.
It has been 8 years since I decided to wear a hijab and it has not been easy for me. I have been in an 8-year-long love-hate relationship with my hijab. I have been through good days and bad days; the bad ones are mostly during summer, events and shopping. I have hated on my hijab because it makes me look old. I have hated on my hijab because it makes me less pretty. I have hated on my hijab because I can’t feel the light breeze through my hair. I have hated on my hijab because I can’t feel the sun on my skin. I have hated on my hijab because I can’t style my hair. I have hated on my hijab because I can’t wear a beanie. I have hated on my hijab because of my limited choice of clothes. I have hated on my hijab because of my depressing and disappointing shopping trips. I have hated on my hijab because of the layers of clothes I have to put up with. I have hated on my hijab because of the 10-minute supermarket trip that I still wear so many layers for. I have hated on my hijab because of my non-existent beach clothes. I have hated on my hijab because of the ugly Burkini I have to wear if I go for a swim. I have hated on my hijab because of my tanned face, hands and feet while the rest of my body remains untanned. I have hated on my hijab because of the summer heat; I experience it double the intensity of a non-hijabi does. I have hated on my hijab almost every day of the 8 years, and I still do, that I was brave enough one day to ask for the permission of taking it off.
I started wearing hijab when I was a girl, then I grew to become a teenager, and now I am a young lady of 21 years old. I was young when I took that decision and I think I have been through enough to fully understand the consequences of it. Of course, I have doubts when something is so hard on me. Of course, I am affected when I go through a hard time. Of course, I let my emotions take over my mind. Of course, I think of taking the easy way out and maybe acting on it as well. That is all normal; as I’m only a human being who will never be close to being perfect. However, I have chosen to continue wearing a hijab for I believe that I will win something no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has conceived. Even if I still question whether I will agree or not if I were to be given the choice of taking off my hijab.
God has made it an obligation for women to believe to wear hijab, yet, the holy Quran clearly states that there is no compulsion in religion. Meaning that, the decision of becoming a hijabi has to be made out of belief. And so I urge you to think it through before you put it on. I urge you to read more about hijab, the moral behind it, the dos and don’ts and fully understand what you’ll be giving up on and putting up with. I need you to believe in Hijab before you put it on so you don’t take it off at times of distress. I need you to accept that at times you will be more hateful than thankful so only then do you need to be strong to fight it through. Because hijab is not only a sign of piety, but it is also a sign of great inner strength and fortitude.
Now I may have listed so many obstacles of hijab that you may think that the cons outweigh the pros. That isn’t true! Because even though I have listed about a hundred of cons and only a ten of pros, the pros still outweigh the cons by their true value. It has always been Quality over Quantity.
P.S. I still nag at my mum about wanting to put braces on, even though I have little barely unnoticeable issue with my teeth.
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