“Cover your head!”
If I had a Rupee for every time someone yelled at me to wear a hijab, I’d be filthy rich by now. So I did! My bank balance, however, remained the same.
Last year, I decided to wear a hijab to “shield” myself from negative remarks stemming from the lack of one on my head. But, much to my amusement, I only ended up facing more snide disapproval.
Here are some of the most common comments I received:
1. “Bet she got a boyfraaand!”
Umm, no. Last time I checked, hijab is for your own sake. I did it for myself, i.e. not for my ‘boyfraaand’, so chill, Aunties. There are always exceptions to this rule, but most women make this decision by themselves. So, instead of feeding the misogyny, give them some credit.
2. “Jeans under hijab? (Astaghfirullah!)”
Why, though? Does that mean wearing jeans without a hijab is alright? Is there a manual? Mine must have gotten lost in the mail. What I’m saying is, stop forcing others to make their personal choices according to your own arbitrary moral standards and unasked for opinions.
3. “Aese Hijab se behtar hai utaar hi do!”
As the saying goes, something is better than nothing. So, don’t discourage somebody’s efforts. Be supportive. Try to emit positive vibes for a change. Honestly, how hard is that?!
4. The audacity to put on make-up:
A code red situation, ladies! Now that you are a hijabi, you are automatically judged for putting on make-up. Apparently, what is the point of covering your head when your face still looks pretty? I am still looking for an appropriate answer, by the way. Basically, if you are a hijabi, you might just have to throw away that overpriced red matte lipstick you bought recently. Unless you know how to hold your ground!
5.“Ye kya ban gayi ho?”
Here comes the saddest part. Most of the time, all these rude statements seem to come from other women. They can be your friends, cousins, or random aunties. They find your life choices difficult to digest. But, does it matter? Not one bit. Don’t be intimidated by them. Have you considered that your bold decision to bring such a big change into your life, and the courage with which you are handling criticism, may have roused a sleeping green monster?
6. Enigma under the layers
People can ask the weirdest of questions. Like why is it so big? How is it so puffy? Is that all your hair in there? What do you stuff it with?! You are so lucky because you don’t even have to wash your hair! How often do you comb your hair?
What is wrong with you people?! For the love of God, stop.
7. Awkward social gatherings
If you ever find a hijabi without her hijab at some wedding or a birthday party, I just want you to remember that she wears the hijab. It doesn’t become attached to her head. She can take it off, get herself a nice hairdo, and have a fun night. Don’t spoil it. This isn’t a mystery, and you aren’t Sherlock Holmes, so butt out.
8. “Baal kharaab ho jaeinge.”
Good one! It even had me alarmed. But it is not necessary. There are multiple causes for hair loss and hair thinning. The hijab, however, is not one of them. Just take good care of your hair: oil them, shampoo them, don’t experiment too much, and you are good to go.
9. “She must be a conservative.”
Whoa! Bite me!
Are you familiar with the likes of Sara Ahmed and Ibtihaj Muhammad? These are among many of the hijab-clad Muslim women who are making their countries proud. Sara Ahmed, a weight-lifter, is the first Arab woman to win a medal at the Olympics. She carries her hijab with just as much ease as the 143 kg weights.
Mattel has decided to make a special addition to its Barbie ‘Sheroes’ collection which is expected to release in 2018. The new Barbie doll happens to be a miniature version of Ibtihaj Muhammad, the hijabi Olympian fencer. A Barbie will be wearing hijab for the first time.
There you go. If hijab symbolizes a conservative mindset to you, then I am afraid you need to widen that narrow-mindedness of yours. Hijab neither stands in the way of a high-spirited lifestyle, nor does it sabotage confidence. In short, hijab is not a symbol of oppression, or misogyny.
And that, my friends, is what I had to go through for one whole year. Hijab bashing needs to be stopped. I have a lot of friends who wear the hijab, and they put a lot of effort into it. I walked a mile in their shoes, and I am so proud of them because I realized that regardless of what you wear, the criticism and comments never stop. Whenever you bring a change in your life, society will do its best to make you conform, and hold you down. So I’d just like to say: