Personally, i wear the scarf (called hijab in Arabic). Thankfully, i was never pressured by my family to wear one or not. It was my own choice. And like many other hijabis (the Anglicized name for girls who wear hijab), i've had moments when i loved it and moments when i wanted to do nothing short of rip it off of my head. So why haven't these girls and i, especially those of us who weren't pressured into it, gone ahead and done so? In short, the answer is this: Because we believe in hijab and what it stands for.
Hijab is the Muslim woman's show of modesty. There are many different ways of wearing it and different beliefs as to how much skin a woman should cover, but the general idea is the same. Covering up your hair and your body in public. I don't wanna get too into specifics here, so for details, click here.
"But oh my god, don't you get hot in that?"
The number of times a hijabi gets that question is uncountable. The physical aspect of wearing the hijab isn't too hard. It's more the social aspect that can get...uncomfortable, so to speak. And the thing is, it's not the hijab's fault, it's the people's! There's a general trend in Arab society that separates the hijabis from other, non-hijabi girls. I call it 'Hijabism'.
Hijabis are usually thought to be less outgoing, less creative, less modern; and more passive, more submissive, more traditional. And this is Arab society, not 'the West'. Hijabis are underrepresented in all forms of Arab media, from movies to TV to radio. The ratio of hijabis in the media to the number of hijabis in the Arab world is very small.
The other day, my friend made a remark that really summed up what i'm trying to say. "The 'popular' girls here ignore hijabis like the plague." And what's funny is that back in 'the West', it's not like that. Who you hang out with isn't dictated by whether or not there's an extra piece of cloth on your head.
Lemme give you a little scenario i took part in to give you a better understanding of what i'm saying:
At AUS's Global Day, there was a Syrian traditional dance going on, called a 'dabkeh'. I jumped in, grabbing the hand of a poufy-haired, makeup-y girl. Now, i don't have anything against girls with that description - when they're nice. But this one totally tried to ignore me. She was barely holding my hand, practically ruining the dabkeh, and then halfway through, she ran to the other side of the dabkeh where some other poufy-haired, makeup-y girls were.
Now, why exactly did she do this? Because i wasn't as poufy-haired and makeup-y as she was. I promise you, if i'd been wearing a miniskirt and full on makeup and had my hair done, she would've stayed next to me. But no, being a hijabi is just not cool enough. Actually, being anything short of a sex toy is not cool enough.
Now that that's said, i have to turn around and say that the situation isn't always like that. Most non-hijabi girls are as sweet as can be; one of my closest friends isn't hijabi. But we've gotta recognize this issue, this 'hijabism' in Arab society. If we want to be recognized in the West, then we've gotta be recognized in our own countries first.