Today is Saturday, February 1st, 2014. I spent my morning taking my daughter to her gymnastics class, then her ballet class then we went to lunch. We then had to go to the pet store to get the cats some food and the last stop was at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. We started at 8Am and got home at 1PM. It was a pretty normal day with the exception that I wore a Hijab.
See this today is worldwide Hijab day. I decided to participate because I wanted the experience. I wanted to be able to show support with the wonderful and amazing Muslim women I have met over the years. I wanted to bring my daughter a little closer to understanding and respecting another culture and religion in hopes of teaching her acceptance.
I started to prepare for today by doing a little research. I first looked up the meaning of the Hijab. How I understood the meaning (this is my own interpretation) is that a woman’s hair is like her ornament. To stay modest, it makes sense to cover it up along with the neck, chest and shoulders. If you look at our media in the Western world there is a lot of emphasis put on hair. Long, short, straight, curly, thick, thin and any color you want it is out there. If you are not happy with your hair being curly there is a product to make it straight, if you have straight hair and hate, well, you can make it curly. If you have blond hair and want it black, there is dye for that, and on and on it goes. Take a minute and think about all of that. Kind of intense if you ask me.
In this western world where tits and ass are thrown in your face at every turn, I find the Hijab to be a rather welcomed change of modesty. I found myself humbled by wearing it. The day my daughter was born everyone commented on her hair. To this day, I cannot go anywhere with her where someone doesn’t say something about how beautiful or thick her hair is. It is flattering yet a bit unnerving.
I must admit I have my own issues with hair. I had hair just like my daughters; long, thick, big curls and beautiful. My mother loved my hair and took wonderful care of it. However my father was not a fan. Anytime he had to brush it he didn’t work out the snarls like my mom would. Instead, he would pull it, thinking it would just go through without issue and I would scream in pain. So around my first birthday while up north on vacation with my god parents family, he had my god mother shave my head on the longest setting possible. My hair was then tied to the young tress on the property we owned up north to keep the deer away. I remember my mother running off in tears. For me, I could cared less. I was a tom boy so as long as it was out of my face it was all good. This probably explains why it took me 4 ½ years to finally get my daughters hair cut for the first time.
As I continued to do some research I came across a lot of negative commentary on the Hijab. This disturbed me cause I felt that the comments about the Muslim religion being misogynistic and demeaning towards women. I found this so disheartening because that is not how I understand the religion to be. Let’s face it, all religion can easily be argued to be sexist and misogynistic but the fact that there was so much focused on the Muslim religion and the Hijab just enforces more false, negative , fear. I am a feminist by all means, but what I read, by author who claimed to be feminists missed the true meaning and beauty behind the Muslim religion and the Hijab. It’s not all perfect but nothing ever is. As a feminist we must trust out fellow women to make choices that they are comfortable and confident with, without being judged. Isn’t that what being a feminist really is all about? Women making their own choices and not being told what to do?
I do not wear makeup unless it’s a special occasion and my hair has always been a way for me to hide. That doesn’t happen when you wear a Hijab. For me, I felt very vulnerable in the Hijab. This isn’t a bad thing; it is just different. I will say that initially there was some hesitation. People who I have seen before, what will they think of me wearing this today? There has been some light shed upon a possible white supremist living in my neighborhood and this made me uneasy as well. On top of that, Islam and anyone who looks like they practice it is always looked at more closely due to this countries Islamophobia. But honestly, to wear the Hijab WAS freeing. It was liberating. It was beautiful.
My daughter was not a fan but what I liked is that she say her mom doing something to help her have a better understanding of those who are different than her. She saw her mom continuing to learn compassion and empathy. She asked me why I was wearing it and I tried to explain this all in a way a 4 ½ year old could understand. She smiled and was like “Whatever.” At the end of the day, she looked at me and said she didn’t really like me in it. I said I understand cause it is not what you are used to seeing. She agreed, gave me a kiss and went on like it was nothing. My hope is that this continues to happen. She sees things maybe a bit out of the ordinary from what she is used to and doesn’t think much of it and moves on. As she gets older, I hope it sparks interest to learn more and ask questions and continue to be respectful. I am grateful for today and this experience.