by Lorene Keller Smith
Walk a mile…
Just over a year ago, I was already heartsick about the political climate and the utter intolerance I was hearing from strangers and acquaintances and even friends. Somewhere online, I saw posts about women wearing a hijab to show support for their Muslim friends. So I decided to see what it was like.
I approached a fellow parent at my kids’ school who is a devout Muslim. I wanted to make sure it would not be insulting to wear this. She was very encouraging, and the next day, she gifted me both the scarf in the picture and a copy of the Koran. I have yet to read the Koran, unfortunately, but I did find a day to wear the hijab.
First I had to figure out how to wrap it. I started googling, and could not believe the amount of choices presented to me. There must be at least 100 different ways to wrap the scarf, including using foam pieces to create more height in back. And the variety of fabrics and colors was amazing as well. This can be as much a fashion statement as any we have in non-Muslim (western) culture. I settled on a wrap style that looked easier to replicate, made sure to cover all my hair, and went about my day as normally as possible.
My husband and I had to go shopping that day. We were both really nervous about going outside/in public with me dressed like this. This was about the time that people were first being accosted for wearing any kind of head covering, and we really were not sure what to expect. He must have asked me 50 times if I was sure about going out wearing this. I think we both half expected to end up in a fight before we got home (my husband is very protective of me).
We shopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and Target that day. The only person who even acknowledged my hijab was an elderly Muslim woman in Target who was wearing one also, and gave me the biggest smile and a head nod. Of course I did not poll anyone for their thoughts, and I do not know what they said out of range of us. We got home without issue, and I wore it around the house the rest of the day. My teenage daughter also dug out an extra scarf and tried it herself.
Oddly, I did not feel repressed or limited by it in any way. I would not choose to wear it all the time (does having a choice make it less repressive?), but the only thing I really felt was toasty warm! I am not sure how I would feel about it in the heat of summer, but in the middle of winter, it added a delicious warmth (I am always cold). I did not feel that it masked my personality in any way.
I am thrilled to see more hijabs represented in the mainstream, whether that is in sporting events or makeup advertisements. I also would like to try this again and see if I get other reactions. Anyone want to join me?