FAQ: What’s really under my head scarf?

Common misconceptions about hijab-wearing individuals.

image courtesy of Andrea Galvan

By Summer Thomad, Southwest Career and Technical Academy

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I was born and raised in the U.S. (more specifically here in Las Vegas). For the most part, I had a very ordinary upbringing. However, since I decided to start wearing the hijab at the age of thirteen, I have noticed a few recurring questions from peers, acquaintances, and strangers. Here are my favorite (and some of the most ridiculous) questions I have received.

Q: Do you have hair?

A: No, but I do have snakes similar to those of Medusa. That’s why they must be covered–if anyone looked into their eyes, that person would turn to stone. You know the story.

Q: Don’t you get hot in the summer?

A: Why would I possibly be hot in the middle of July in Las Vegas? It’s a desert after all; how could anyone get hot in over 100 degree weather? The built-in cooling system I keep under my hijab at all times keeps everything nice and breezy.

Q: How do you get your hair cut?

A: Well, I basically just have the barber hold up his/her scissors under my scarf and guess. It’s like a game! They just keep snipping away locks of hair until everything seems even.

Q: Do you shower with the scarf on?

A: Yes. I use a special shampoo that seeps through the fabric of my hijab. I simply shake my head around until the product is evenly distributed.

Q: Do you go swimming in public?

A: As appealing as it sounds to take a casual dip in bacteria-infested public pool waters, or the glistening polluted sea, in a full-on wet suit and swim cap, I am perfectly content floating around in my swimming pool at home.

 

Funny and cringe-inducing as some of those questions can be, here are some more honest questions that I think need answers, too.

Q: Do your parents make you wear that?

A: Nope. Contrary to popular belief, wearing the hijab is completely my decision. As a matter of fact, when I made the decision to start wearing it, my parents told me they didn’t want me to feel like I had to wear it because of them, or for any other reason besides my own personal beliefs and intentions.

Q: Do Muslim women have to act submissive? Are you oppressed?

A: If you spent five minutes talking to me you would probably find this question as ridiculous as I do. With the way Muslims are portrayed in the media, the hijab is often seen as an object of oppression toward women. The hijab can be perceived as limiting, but it does not restrict myself or others from being an independent, free-thinking individual.

Q: So then, why do you wear the hijab?

A: Unfortunately, with the way women are represented in society, a woman’s worth is often based on her appearance. Personally, I wear the hijab so that I am treated by others based on my character and moral value rather than my appearance. Wearing the hijab also acts as a way for me to feel connected to my religion.