I know that it might be an interesting time to talk about this, but it has been a year and I couldn’t think of a better moment to speak out. I get many questions regarding my choice, at times I am ready to give people an elaborate answer and at other times I don’t see a point. I see it as a personal decision and isn’t something I felt the need to announce. If there is one thing I have learned its that people always see things as a loss or a win, and that is not the case in this situation. People are very quick to jump to conclusions, however I know that is inevitable. To clarify, don’t assume that I left hijab out of weakness or lack of faith. Don’t make the mistake to think I am less religious because of it or girls who cover are more religious.
Let’s go back to the beginning. I was thirteen years old when I decided to cover. I look back at the signs and how I wasn’t really ready and at the time I had no idea what it takes to actually encompass hijab. I pushed through, because of course I made the decision and there was no turning back. As the years passed by, every moment I wanted to take it off, I felt like a failure. If truth be told, it wasn’t even my decision anymore. My mother was very firm to her belief of “what will people say?” I lived my whole life in that fear and perhaps I didn’t see myself as a failure, but the world would have, and my parents were not having that. Every time the topic came up, it was clear that if I took off the scarf, I would be a disappointment.
The thing about disappoints and expectations is that they are unavoidable. It took me a long time to understand that. The mold that comes with hijab, I didn’t fit anymore. I never fitted that mold, my parents knew that, my siblings knew that, my cousins knew that. It’s not like I was wild or anything but the mere fact that I didn’t fit the description of what society thinks a hijabi should be. The burden of being a certain way was just too much. I hate that in our culture/society we have to be or act a particular way- and if you’re not that way, then people have some words to exchange about you. (However, I do realize this battle was never with the world and I, it was with my self) I wore the hijab and tried vigorously to fit this image of who a hijabi is supposed to be, and every time I went somewhere, I was expected to be someone I was not.
I once got a proposal JUST because the guy knew I wore hijab and had green eyes. It disgusted me. What if I didn’t even pray? He had NO idea who I was, and in that moment I didn’t even know who I was. He said he wanted a religious girl, and my aunt proceeded to say well she’s not “that religious” (that bothered me too) and his mother said, we don’t care, we want a hijabi. It saddened me that it was okay for hijab to be just a “trend” that it didn’t matter who I was, and what I believed, as long as I looked the part.
Labeling people for what they lack is shameful. I struggled with this for many years and finally I came to a point in my life that if I wasn’t wearing the scarf for God, then I shouldn’t be wearing it. If you do things for the world, for people, and not yourself then you have it all wrong. I get ignorant questions all the time, “oh, is it because you wanted to show your hair?” for me, wearing a scarf was never difficult, I always had girls tell me, “oh my god, hijab suits you so well!” I’m grateful that for me, not once was hijab ever about appearance (because thats obviously the point) that part came easy to me. I started hijab in an era when there were no hijab tutorials, just me and a plain black scarf and two safety pins. It was the internal struggle that I couldn’t push away. Who am I? Who do I want to be? What do I want to portray as a person? I commend thirteen year old Fatima for sticking to her haste decision, I tried, I tried with every fiber of my being- but unveiling myself this past year has made me even stronger and I have never felt more like myself.
And before anyone puts their judge-y pants on, just remember a sin that humbles you is WAY better than a good deed that makes you arrogant.