Here's my story on beauty through an experience that should strike dialogue.
It’s hard to respond to something that was never asked.
Yet the aura of hesitation lingers on every person’s mind. You wouldn’t be here unless you were curious, unless you genuinely cared to know; yet you have every right to wonder.
Let me indulge you in my curtailed story and recount the moments leading up to the present. I want to let you sip on my thought bubbles and for you to revel in the beautiful moments that have given me clarity in my decision.
Hijab. Five years and I don’t regret any of it. To this day, I know the value and meaning it holds for many women and the value and meaning it held for me. To tell myself that I believe in it right now would be a lie. I don’t intend on living a double life and I don’t intend on fooling myself.
Seven years ago, I was riddled with many things most Muslim brown families wouldn’t pride in speaking about. I had no control over these things and that’s something I didn’t know how to come to terms with. One thing that I did know was my interest in finding inner peace and I found that with Hijab.
Hijab offered what people couldn’t: Solace. I wore it and I let it fall on my head and cascade over my shoulders. I didn’t know why I did it, but that euphoric feeling of finally finding a safe haven was what I needed. I treaded many different paths within Islam and I regret none of those moments. Essentially every action, every decision and every moment helped me define myself. My being.
Four out of the five years, I was able to define the Hijab. It was not something that I treated as an outward display of religiosity. It was my prized possession of unlocking something more grandiose: inward peace and God consciousness.
However, things change and I would like to believe for the better. One year I struggled with revealing the history of my past of sexual trauma and finally telling myself that I was not okay and that holding up a façade is not me solving my problems: it’s me hiding from them. For one year I realized that I was merely hiding underneath my headscarf. For one year I conflated the concept of Hijab with that of the physical headscarf. To me Hijab wasn’t something physical but a concept; the concept that was meant to be a tool to embrace and understand the spiritual self. To encapsulate the true meaning of being human and strengthening one’s relationship with God. I was upset that people had essentially placed more value on my hair than they did of me as a human being. What I wear should not be an indication of how ‘good’ of a Muslim I am. Who I am should highlight my religiosity.
I was tired of being typecasted. You see, once you become a Hijabi, you enter a new world of looks and stares from fellow hijabis. You fall into this diverse net of labels and no matter how hard I tried to define myself; I ended up succumbing to the labels given to me. I no longer had that pull of inner peace. I was no longer God conscious. People needed to remind me that I was Muslim. My headscarf alone couldn’t save the inner conflict within me anymore.
The role Hijab played in my life was now replaced by my ability to break down the walls I had created. I found control and I wanted to reignite my inner peace and God consciousness. I couldn’t wear something I didn’t believe in and I couldn’t allow it to dictate how others interacted with me. I don’t see it as something mandatory. What I see mandatory is internalizing the concept of Hijab and living true to my values, ideals and beliefs. To throw away what’s deep rooted with patriarchal norms and something that is very cultural and to follow my continued spiritual journey of reconnecting and strengthening my connection with God.
That’s what is important to me.
That’s what compelled me to make my decision.
Don’t be sad for me.
Don’t try to change my mind.
Just be happy and respect my choice. I respect yours.