"The worst things about the hijab have nothing to do with the hijab," a friend of mine once said. Never have words rung so true!
Too often, hijabis are seen as a symbol for decades old political and religious debate, and not as people going through life's ebbs and flows, just like everyone else. I am not the spokesperson of hijabis anymore than you are the PR agent of your Levi's jeans, so please respect that I don't enjoy being sucked into a debate about it on a daily basis.
With that said, I'm going to put certain questions to rest so that you don't have to ask them, anymore!
1. Do you get hot in the summer?
You know how Saudis come to Beirut in August and enjoy "the breeze" while the rest of us are drenched in sweat? It's the same for veiled woman. One might say we have a higher heat threshold.
2. Were you forced to put in on?
Hi. Are you my therapist? How would you like it if I probed into your family dynamics? My hijab is not a window into my private life.
Women wear the veil for a wide array of reasons. Sometimes, it's a personal choice. Other times, family exercises pressure. Either way, the issue is private and not suited to small talk.
3. Do you regret it?
Reflections on wearing the hijab are usually very personal and not open to anthropological inquisition.
4. Can you work out with all those clothes on?
Remember the "heat-sensing" threshold? It applies here as well. You forget you're wearing extra; it's one of our many superpowers.
5. How are you going to find a job?
Truth be told, employers - even Muslim ones for reasons unbeknownst to us - are steering clear of hijab-wearing women. But that is simply another glitch we refuse to compromise our beliefs for.
6. Shouldn't you have waited until after finding a husband?
If he doesn't like me with the hijab, he won't like me without it.
7. Why doesn't your sister wear it?
Just because we were raised under the same roof doesn't mean we have the same beliefs. For most of us, hijab is a personal choice, and if it isn't, then I'll let you know when and if I feel like it.
8. Can you wear make-up? Go out on dates? Dance?
Short answer: I can do whatever I decide to do, and I can't stress this point enough. Wearing the hijab does not come with an instruction manual. Women who wear the hijab are like most Muslim. We're trying to practice our faith in the best way we can.
Sarah Rahimi said it best, "Wearing hijab is not a trophy you get once you have accomplished impeccable piety, it much rather is a single step in a long journey towards that common goal we all have."
9. Shouldn't you be wearing looser clothes?
A non-hijabi criticizes a hijabi for not dressing conservatively enough. Your jaw drops. The situation is wrong on so many levels, you don't know where to start. "Weren't you just giving me a lecture on women's liberation, like...2 days ago?" You smile knowingly, because if the irony and hypocrisy of this conversation is lost on said non-hijabi, then this is a lost cause.
This happens all the time, folks. Unless you're my parent or a very close friend of mine, your "concerns" over how I dress are not welcome.
10. How can you be a feminist?
Last I checked, feminism empowers women and gives them control over all aspects of their lives. Explain to me please how choosing to cover my body contradicts this in any way.
11. Can I talk about my boyfriend in front of you?
The number of times people have talked about dating in hushed tones when I'm in the room is ridiculous.
Choosing a certain lifestyle doesn't mean that we expect the people around us to do the same or that we're only friends with conservative people. We are not God's appointed Supreme Court Justices on earth, people.