I am a hijabi (wearer of the hijab)
And I am oppressed.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term hijab, let me clarify (but most of the world probably is by now). The term hijab technically refers to a scarf, but the way it is understood by Muslimahs (female practitioners of Islam) is a little more inclusive. When we (muslimahs) refer to hijab, or call ourselves hijabis, we are referring to a style of dress which includes a scarf on the head in some fashion, and a certain etiquette by which we live our lives. Different cultures will define proper hijab in different ways…some more “conservative “, some more “liberal”. While I feel comfortable in the way I physically wear my hijab and socially practice it, I don’t feel the need to judge others on theirs. Is mine perfect? Hardly. But I consider myself a hijabi none the less.
And like the media loves to trumpet, I certainly am oppressed.
My attire doesnt stop me from physical activity (hiking, swimming, riding bikes, etc). My dress doesn’t keep me from being fashionable/feeling beautiful (quite the contrary, I’ve never felt so good looking in my life!). My social etiquette doesn’t keep me out of the work place or secluded at home (I’ve worked with both men and women with no awkwardness, and I’ve gone on outings on my own). I’m not oppressed by my hijab. But as a hijabi, I am oppressed.
I’m oppressed by you.
Not you, specifically, dear friends. You support me and my right to practice my faith, my way. I love you all! By “you”, I mean the traditionally “western” concept of hijabi oppression.
Being glared at on the street and whispered about; constantly fearing a violent outburst from a stranger keeps me at home. The current fashion of see-through blouses and crop tops makes it hard to dress myself. Requiring I remove my hijab before I can work keeps me out of the workforce and dependent on a man to care for me. You consistently, relentlessly telling me I am not a strong woman because of the choices I made for myself makes me feel secluded and weak.
I did not oppress myself. I would not choose a way of life that makes me feel poorly about myself. The only thing about being a hijabi Muslimah that is oppressive is other people’s attitude towards me and the difficulty of living in a society that doesn’t want me in it.
So when you see us on the street, don’t cluck your tongue and shake your head. Smile. Nod. Maybe a little wave of “hello”. Make us feel included. Makes us feel welcome. If you are so concerned about the oppression of hijabis, maybe you should stop doing it.
I got 99 problems but my scarf ain’t one.
*light-hearted notes below
1. Like I said before, not everyone does this. If you are reading this and are a hijabi supporter, hey girl/dude! You’re the best!
2. The new style of “shirt dresses” is great for hijabis and am all about that fashion trend right now! Yes!
3. No, I don’t expect everyone to bow down to hijabi style and not wear sheer shirts and crop tops. You do you, boo. We just want some fashion options that aren’t boring black Abayas*.
4.*if you like boring black Abayas that’s OK too. 🙂