by Ayesha S.
I was always a typical American teenage girl. I watched Pretty Little Liars, shopped at Forever 21 and fan-girled over One Direction. I’d always describe myself as really “mainstream.” Although I am Muslim I saw myself as a ‘modern Muslim.” Me wearing Hijab? No way!
As my body went through puberty things began to change. Overnight I seemed to be a different person. The short girl with pink plastic glasses and ugly braces was gone. In her place was a taller, skinnier and (can I just say prettier?) girl. The changes my body went through gave me the confidence to speak my mind. Suddenly people began treating me differently. Shopkeepers were friendlier, male teachers were more lenient, I could get away with a lot more than I used to. I remember I went shopping with a friend and stopped for pretzel bites. The cashier handed me a large but only charged me for a small. I loved the attention I was getting. After years of reading articles on how to be pretty, I finally was.
However with all the positives came several negatives as well. The world seemed to take me less seriously. The same male teachers that were lenient also deemed me as an ‘airhead.’ I wasn’t. I was as headstrong, opinionated and bursting with ideas as I always was. No one seemed to notice though.
Things came to a standstill when I joined an advanced math class at my school. The workload was tremendous and I was not able to keep up. After months of struggling I begrudgingly dropped out. A week later a classmate approached me and said the only reason I wasn’t kicked out of that class earlier was because I was pretty. That comment deeply hurt me as it tied my worth with my looks. I knew I was so much more than a pretty face.
I stopped putting any effort into my appearance but that didn’t seem to help. My appearance was still judged, the first thing put on trial by the world. I grew sick and tired of it and started seeking advice from older family members and cousins. One day while on Youtube I found a video of a “hijabi” girl explaining why she wears hijab. She explained how wearing hijab in no way restricted her from the rest of her life. I’d always seen ‘hijabi’ girls as sort of quiet and introverted. Suddenly I was watching Youtube videos of hijabi’s who played tennis, had tons of friends and did everything I did. I realized that hijab does not have to define you; it can be a small part of a bigger individual.
In our society hijab is seen as a symbol of oppression. That cannot be further from the truth. My hijab liberated me. It forced people to judge me not by my looks but by my intellect and my actions, the things that actually matter. It ensured that never again would I be reduced to a pretty little object. It taught me that I am so much more than something to look at. I cover the irrelevant so that people can see who I really am.
Two months after wearing hijab, my only regret is not starting it sooner. My hijab helps me always remember who I am. It helps me always stay true to my faith and myself. However, it does not stop me from being me. I was always worried that hijab would not only cover my hair but also my personality and my individualism. This cannot be further from the truth. Although the media portrays hijabis to be oppressed and submissive, I can safely say that the majority of hijabis I’ve met are the exact opposite. I for one am still the loud, fun-loving girl I was pre-hijab. I still have a ton of friends and spend weekends eating junk food and being a normal teenager. I’m just a little more covered.
Ayesha S. blogs at Hijabis-R-Us.
MY HIJAB STORY is a new feature that is meant to spread the love abut hijab and its positive affects on the lives of women everywhere. You too can submit your HIJAB STORY to us! Check out this post for more details.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post belong to the writer only and do not necessarily express the beliefs and ideas of the writers at The Mulim Girl.