author: taylor madarash | contributor
We must all respect the choices women make. I noticed this is not the case where I live.
I wore a hijab in Saskatchewan. I do not practice Islam, but my generous Muslim sisters gifted the scarf to me, and so I covered my hair in solidarity. The first thing I notice when I wear a hijab is how different my voice sounds. The words I speak echo in my ears, forcing me to think more about what I say. I like this. It makes me listen to myself more.
The second thing I notice is how different my face looks. At first, my face seemed isolated from my body, and every feature I hated about myself jumped out at me, terrified me. It made me want to hide away back into the curtain of my hair. It was as if I had been taught my entire life to want to change everything about something or myself.
I looked at myself again. Without concern for whether my hair was thick enough, or soft enough, or long enough, or the right color – I was able to focus. My cheekbones stand out, despite the baby cheeks I used to hate. Now, I like my nose for the reasons I hated it. When I smile, I’m no longer holding back in the mirror over concern about “smiling pretty.” I’ve learned how to feel truly happy and beautiful at the same time.
My Muslim sisters taught me that the hijab is a symbol of modesty. This welcomes me, and I understand the importance of welcoming others. It’s integral that you wash your hands clean of any arrogance. I feel this when I wear it. It grounds me. I feel balanced within my core, in my belief in myself, and I am no longer desperate to prove myself to anyone other than me. This is confidence.
Wearing a hijab is a personal choice decided for many reasons, and no one could fully understand why someone else may have decided to wear or not to wear the scarf. We must all respect the choices women make. I noticed this is not the case where I live.
I started receiving a lot of questions, all of which felt like an interrogation. Mostly, “Why would you wear it?” It seemed everyone wanted to know, and they all expected answers. I felt like people were forcing me to prove myself, to prove that wearing a Hijab was a good choice. But I didn’t owe it to them. If I wear a Hijab, it doesn’t mean I owe anyone anything.
Others were visibly disgusted in my choice. I went out for supper, and when I walked into the family restaurant, everyone who could see me stopped to stare. Several women rolled their eyes. Several men looked like they were no longer enjoying the food in their mouths. I made eye contact with many of them on my way to my table. It didn’t feel like they wanted me present in this public venue.
These experiences were a glance into what it’s like to wear a hijab every day in Saskatchewan. Everywhere you go, there will be people questioning you and wondering why you are there.
I don’t know how to explain why I like wearing the heard scarf. It just gives me power in ways a pantsuit never could. Choosing to wear a hijab in Saskatchewan seems to be an act of defiance. Fortunately, it gives you the strength you need to face anyone who doubts you and still trust in yourself.
The introspection that comes with choosing to wear a hijab has made me a better version of myself. From the confidence I’ve gained, I’ve also found the goodness in me and in truly believing in the necessity for equality. I am confident when I say that I am no better than anyone else. I am proud to be beside my Muslim sisters.
I’m not religious, but I do believe in what it means to be Muslim.