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Like all good things, my sojourn with the hijab is coming to an end. This has had an unexpected effect on me. You see, when I began wearing hijab, the main change I expected to see was an external one. I was looking for people to react to me in a certain way. Instead, the most marked change I found in the course of this experiment came from within.
As a woman in a world where I am constantly bombarded with images of how I should or should not appear, taking on the hijab was synonymous with giving that ideal its walking papers. I think for the first time in my life, I feel mostly freed from the constraints of what should and should not be worn. There is a certain amount of invisibility that comes with wearing hijab: people are trying desperately not to stare and so they turn their heads. Indeed, during some of my outings and errands, people seemed to be surprised by my friendly greetings. Perhaps they were expecting more meekness from me. Sorry folks, I can only work on one task at a time. Meekness will have to wait.
The word covering is also used to signify someone’s protection, authority or blessing over you. We have devalued the idea of someone being in charge of women in the modern world. A woman is expected to fend for herself. Believe me, I know she can; the question is, should she have to? This thought occurred to me during this journey. I have no problem with the idea of men defending me and protecting me from harm. Indeed, I believe it is necessary for our sons to learn to defend femininity, and for our daughters to learn to band together. Protection and control are not synonymous. This idea of covering and acknowledging an authority over you indicates that you have people who can and will rush to your defense. In other words, they have you covered.
The covering also allows you time to be introspective about what you really have to examine on the inside. While you are eliminating the outer view of you, it seems to me the inner part of you becomes emboldened. As if this covering literally provides you with some sort of security, you find yourself speaking with authority. The spiritual ramifications of this can be life changing. I found myself examining my heart thoroughly and deciding some things it had allowed myself to become complicit in had to go. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.
In the end, though I don’t expect to wear it every day, wearing hijab has become a part of me. I intend to keep wearing this covering. I’m not going to let it go.
I didn’t get the response I expected while wearing the hijab. I was looking for racists and condescending feminists to approach me. I got neither. That’s the beauty of experiment. You put the parameters in place, and where you end up is sometimes the greatest result at all. I think this experiment with its unexpected results brought forth a positive change in me, my friends and family who were subjected to being seen with a woman in hijab, and hopefully you, my readers. Thank you for coming on this journey with me; a special thank you to everyone who has reached out with their encouragement and recommendations. Thank you to everyone who shared this story. I hope it encourages you as it did me.
Until next time,