Growing up in a European village where I naturally stood out due to my race, people treated me differently and saw me differently. Somehow in their ignorant minds, they could not grasp that there are different races in this colorful world and it bewildered them even more when I started wearing the hijab. It was quite an experience having to face those kind of people, being asked questions I myself didn’t have answers to back then, getting teased by school kids and stared at by strangers. I knew I was different due to my appearance, but I never understood how I was made to feel different due to my character and personality, when in reality I was just like any other average kid. It vexed me how people had the sense to prejudge me due to a piece of cloth before I even opened my mouth. Of course, in due time I have learned that the hijab is more than a mere piece of cloth; it carries symbolism of religion, culture and even lifestyle.
It initially took me some time to get used to wearing the hijab and find ways to wear it that suited me. I experimented with different styles, fabrics and even colors before I found my own way. It was a rather solitary journey, as I didn’t come across many girls wearing the hijab during my time in Switzerland; in fact, besides my sister, I was the only ‘hijabi’ in the whole village and school. Hijab/modest blogs or websites did not exist back then, so I had to use my creativity and imagination when it came to styling the hijab and my outfits. There were a lot of trial and error, but for me, that was the best way to discover my own distinctive style.
All eyes are on me every time I’d step into a room; simply because of my hijab. It always makes me feel like the center of attention and I’ve learned to use that to my advantage. At one point where being different felt uneasy and uncomfortable, now feels rather emancipating. The hijab makes me feel distinctive, responsible and feminine. I chose to wear the hijab to be visibly Muslim, to associate it with my believes, morals and lifestyle. It makes me feel comfortable knowing I have a sense of direction with it, not only in my personal life but also in my academic and career life. It may sound strange using it almost as a guideline to one’s life, but the hijab can be interpreted as simple as a fashion piece or as complex as a religious, sociological and psychological symbol. Either way, I wear it with a positive attitude and intention.
In terms of aesthetics, I love wearing the hijab, it completes every outfit I put on. I prefer wearing neutral, earthy and pastel colors, nothing that overshadows my face or outfit. I don’t particularly see or wear the hijab as an accessory piece but to compliment and blend in with the rest of my outfit. It really all depends on the occasion and outfit.
In all frankness, I also love wearing the hijab because I’m far too lazy to style my hair or worry about what my hair looks like. In the mornings, I usually always put on my hijab the last, it’s my sign of ‘I’m ready to leave the house now’. It bothers me when wearing the hijab … [Read the entire article in Freya magazine]
Written by: Zinah Nur Sharif