February 1st was World Hijab Day. My university celebrated it on the 16th and invited women to stand in solidarity with Muslim women and don a headscarf for the day. I participated and I decided to chronicle my experience.
The goal of this day was to provide an opportunity for women to experience what it is like to wear the hijab and stand against the injustice and Islamophobia that exists in this world.
Well, I definitely overthought my outfit today! I paired my beautiful, cobalt blue pashmina headscarf (kindly provided by my university) with a simple black sweater, jeans, and a long necklace. I put on my normal day make up but didn’t worry a stitch about my hair and rather just looped it up in a small bun to ensure no hair slipped out of the scarf. I practiced putting on the headscarf multiple times last night by using YouTube videos as a reference because I was so afraid to wear it wrong and inadvertently offend someone.
Now, I’m hanging out in the library before class and I feel odd. I’ve gotten used to the extra fabric around my neck, similar to wearing a turtleneck and the flashes of blue I see in my peripheral but when people come near me I get incredibly self-conscious, afraid they’ll think I’m odd for wearing a headscarf or wondering why I’ve never worn one before this day.
I don’t know why, but I expected more people to ask about the headscarf. Even my friends who know that I do not typically wear these have made little to no comment. Which I guess makes this a more realistic experience since women who do wear hijabs daily may not be constantly asked about it. There was a new guy in one of my classes today and I was curious if my personality matched the expectations he had of a woman wearing a headscarf with a possible stereotype being more demure or quiet.
I will say that it kept me quite warm in my anatomy laboratory which is usually freezing. And every once in a while I forget that I am wearing it. However, that is quickly abated by the fear that it is falling off and I look stupid.
This windy day is making it pretty hard to ensure my hijab stays on appropriately all day.
Well, I’m home now and today was definitely an interesting experience. A few friends throughout the day complimented the color of my headscarf and some asked why I chose to participate. The idea of wearing a hijab so that women could be appreciated for their personality and intellect rather than their physical appearance really resonates with me. However, I will admit that I worried what people thought about me wearing one – more so that people who knew I wasn’t Islam would judge me or accuse me of cultural appropriation. I realize that this may be only a small part of nerves women who wear hijabs feel every day with the fear of encountering Islamophobia or hate solely because they choose to wear these head scarves. Additionally, I was very lucky to only feel these nerves on a campus I feel safe on with people I know.
All in all, it was a very enlightening day and I’m happy to have participated!