Monday, October 29, 2012

To Veil or Not to Veil?

This post is just of me thinking out loud to figure things out, and in a more retorical sense than not.
I have been going through many changes this past year. I got married (contract, wedding not yet :), moved in with my husband and have recently become more spiritually/God concious (no other way to describe it, increase in iman so to speak).

Its been a very different year for me, being a newlywed and adapting to a more feminine version of myself, all the while trying to carry out religious duties.

I have come to realize one problem that I hadn't anticipated before marriage lol. Which is the ghusl/ritual bathing involved after having sex and how that can completely crumble any beautification efforts done on my part to be 'attractive'. I prefer the word more feminine.

Now some of you might be cringing, Thinking "why wouldn't you want to shower after sex??".
Well be warned. It is quite a vain reason.

I hate wetting my hair!!! (water/washing ruins hair style).
And not just that. I hate ruining my makeup and having to reapply it and especially dealing with hair and styling it ALL over again....

No I dont heat style everytime I get the freak on, reason being I don't want to fry my hair...

That being said, sometimes I welcome it. Because sometimes the you-know-what can be a shower in itself and ruin everything I just mentioned.

But i find it frustrating. Here I am married. I am told I can finally really flaunt and beautify myself in ways that a muslim woman is not allowed to do in public (with good reason), yet one thing arises to your attention that you didn't think of before. Which is the competition you realize you have between your now halal beautified self and billboards.

Whether you are aware or not, it is a fact that a lot of shiekhs preach that a wife should beautify herself for her husband, and it is subtly yet apparently attributed to 'SO THEY DON'T LOOK AT OTHER WOMEN OR COMPARE'.

This usually is adressed when muslim women come up to shiekhs And complain about their husbands having taken another wife, is looking at other women, or God forbid cheated on them.

So how is that supposed to make me feel? 'Now that you're married, you get to dress up the way you always wanted but couldnt due to wearing hijab, and look beautiful in the comfort of your home. But make sure you do it right or enough, lest the prettier women out there steal your husband!'

Do you have any idea how shunned and admonished a woman out here in Egypt is, if they don't step up their beauty routine and look their best in their husbands homes? Do you know how often women are blamed for their husbands' cheating or taking a second wife! Ahaha do you how often women are blamed if they get sexually harrassed or raped? I am not kidding. Its always the women. Women in this culture are given the burden of constantly meeting up to their partner's standards, wishes and subserviant women are looked at like as 'women as they ought to be'.

I'm all for 'obeying' (not in the christian sense, I don't believe in that and discussion is encouraged in the Quran) the husband.

As a young woman, im still going through the phase of trying to find my place in this world and forming my identity. Beauty is a big aspect of a woman's life. Its everything they are valued for and judged by in society. Sad truth. It islam that remains but in the frame of married life.

Its so hypocritical when some muslims wear their hijab proudly as a way to stop others from judging them for their bodies than their minds, but then emphasize physical appearance in marriage and subsequently be judged, picked on, ridiculed, advised to do this or that, and under constant pressure to attain this attraction that thry protested against by covering up in the first place.

I hope im getting my thought across. Im having trouble expressing it because it woven so deeply in me.

Now others may take this differently, but I get disgusted whenever women approach me snd advise me to wear this or put on this makeup..etc for my husband and then give me that look. What look, you ask? The look that says "do this SO YOUR HUSBAND WILL ACCEPT YOU, PAY ATTENTION, AND NOT NEGLECT YOU. OH AND TO SATISFY HIS NEEDS'.

What about my needs? Al hamd lilah I have no complaints about my hubby, he is the sweetest thing in the world. But I keep being tugged in this war between women, society and what they think I should be or act, and the unspoken assumption on my part that my husband aspires/expects the same that society tells me.

My needs are now in a constant struggle between seeking validation through conformity and increased vanity and beautification, and giving society/media the middle finger and be myself and literally force myself to let go of vanity. I know the latter is really hard because I have been programmed to think like the former.

I think im going through a vanity/self image crisis. And what that has to do with hijab is that I have been pondering for months about taking it off. I will list some points pro hijab and against.

Hijab cons:

1- I absolutely HATE going to the hair salon, paying a lot of money to get my hair done, put hijab back on (no matter how loosely) then go home to find it all RUiNeD. Yes go ahead and judge me and call me a vain bitch. But I really do detest that. It makes me envy how easy breezy it is for other women to just walk out n greet their husbands looking that way without messing it up. Maybe my perception of beauty is a bit uptight. I dont know. Its not like I was raised to face these questions and situations. My mom never took me through the whole beauty routines and salon visits. I rarely did it of my accord and only played with dying my own hair at home during my teens. I was my own with a lot of these things. Mothers are the best role models but mine wasn't around to be that (distracted) and I don't blame her.

2- I hate how it weighs me down sometimes. I literally feel frustrated, angry and heavy when wearing it especially when im more active. I crave an active lifestyle so much but it is not very encouraging no matter how light you dress, or what kind of hijabi sport wear you put on. There is something so instintual about needing to feel the wind in your hair and on your neck for persperation reasons. I also feel very very closterphobic in it. Im not kidding. Like I want to break something. That bad. Sometimes. Also the added pressure around my head can give me a headache when my heart rate gets up. I have no idea how I played sports in school with hijab on. I really dont. For some reason I don't have the same tolerance anymore. I do remember getting hot thugh.

3- it makes me resent other non hijabis and how they take their appearances for granted. I admit i get jealous when I see girls that get to wear things I can't and look good, but I can appreciate it if they look decent, but I scorn at the slutty ones. It makes me angry when I see non hijabis not taking advantage of their unveiledness and end up looking like hobos. A bunch of superficial crap that reside in my innermost thoughts.

4- Hijab discourages me from investing in cute, otherwise revealing clothes to wear around the hubby. It is very frustrating to have dual personalities and different styles between outside and inside the home. If I were to try achieving both, I would barely have time for so many other important things. I honestly would rather just have one routine to deal with than two.

5- Speaking of duality, the same goes when it comes to my hair. And makeup would apply too if Ip didnt wear it outside. It is very difficult living up to our modern day's perception of beauty, but living up to Islamic dress code outside the home at the same time is near impossible for me. I am such a terrible person for even thinking of choosing the former over the latter, but I really dont want to even go there. I need some kind of balance.

6- Hair thinning. Yes sometimes you might shed a bit more hair when wearing scarves, especially if too tightly, just like what happens when people wear hats too often. This doesnt happen to everyone and is quite rare, but it is not impossible. One dermatologist asked me to loosen up my headscarf when my hair was thinning at one point. But later we found out the root cause (discussed below).

7- Vitamin D. Let me first say that getting enough Vitamin D Is by exposing your arms and face to the sun for 20 mins up to three times a week is sufficient. So im not claiming hijab leads to vitamin d deficiency (unless you wear niqab, I suppose), however in my personal experience, due to lack of sun exposure (in egypt, imagine that) and being home for too long sometimes, I developed a SEVERe deficiency. It was basically 7 points away from zero on the test results... Very low. And my doctor and I concluded that this was the cause of my hair thinning. My hair was thinning so bad and at its peak I was starting to get small bald patches here n there. Not completely hair less but you can see a lot of scalp. I took supplements for a while, which helped, but its not something I can do forever. Some of it has grown back but my hair is still not as fruitful as it used to be in my teens. I know this is silly but my hair was its thickest before I put hijab on at the age of 12. Could be a coincidence though.

You have no idea what kind of depression a girl goes through when she loses her hair. i will note though that although hijab annoys me personally in that aspect, I dont think you have to take it off in order to get enough vitamin d. Would it help though? Definetely.

8- Tan lines. Being a more natural kinda gal, i don't like sun block or spf. Argue all you want :p. Especially when I have a vitamin D deficiency.
And that leaves you a tan line around your face, and hands,, my arms are kind of pale but my hands are a deep tan sometimes. No kidding. I kind of feel like a freak. I wont give this reason much attention though because of how superficial it is. But I thought i'd mention it. Besides theres no escaping tan lines unless you got out naked.

9- Swimming in hijab is very very frustrating. I have a lot of respect and admiration for those who even surf in hijab, but I can't seem to get over myself. I get depressed when going to the beach for family holidays, a place which used to my favorite place in the world, now becomes the beacon of self loathing, heat, itchiness, sweat, hijab slipping tug wars, the OCD like reaction I get when mixing sand with wet clothes..etc. I get so depressed when going to the beach now because all that I can really do is sit on the beach, fight with my hijab and long clothes to stay in place in the wind, and watch everyone else have a good time. Now I dont even wear full hijab, I wear jeans n shorter tops n stuff..imagine that with full hijab. The beach used to be a place of fun and escape. Now its just a reminder of all the things I can't do in hijab. Same feelings come up when Im at a sports club, depending on the sport though.

10- I don't like being percieved as muslim to look up to, just because I cover my hair.. Nor do I want to handle the extra 'responsibilities' that wearing a hijab comes with. Such as exhibiting a model of faith and purity 100% all the time and then being OSTRICIZED when I don't live up to it, but mostly fellow hijabis! And I find it disgusting when hijabis and the majority of muslims judge non-hijabis as being less pious, faithful or having less iman. I used to think that way a long time ago but not anymore.. Its just ridiculous. Allah tells us in the quran not to ridicule a people because they might be better than you think. And that only He knows whats in the hearts of man. And He is judge. So we are in no position to do so, especially on a relgious basis.

11- The hypocrisy..hijab is supposed to protect women from prying eyes, the objectification of women, judgement of others of their bodies and appearance..etc.. But then muslim comunities turn it all around on women when they DO cover up. I can't count how many times I have been picked on, judged and expected to dress and act a certain way, and blasphemy to me if I don't. They go out and judge me based on my appearance..contradictory...and nit-pick what they think I should be covering, wearing, showing, or whatever. I get these judgements no matter how conservative or halfway hijab I dressed. When you wear hijab, you expected to adhere to the whole deal, much like a politician taking a position of power and representention of the people Hijab then becomes more of Socio-political Title than a divine rite. Well I am tired. Yes it has gotten slightly easier since 'fashionable hijab' came around, and loosened it up a bit, but then it taints the real purpose behind hijab, and the 'title' hijabi is still there and expected to be abided by like a contract, only now with the trendy clothes and accessories.

12- Another reason why i consider taking it off is because I wore it when I was 12, it was for culture and beautification (i had low self esteem), not Islam, and I never really wore real hijab, and still don't, therefore It is not much of a difference when the it all boils down to whether your hair is covered and a little arm. Not to me anyway.

13- taking hijab off would make me want to lose weight even more and break my comfort zone. Hijab is great for hiding fat!

Now for the Pro Hijab/not taking it off points:

1- I honestly feel less pretty without it! I know, laugh, but its like how dear hairpeices are to Adele, i feel so plain and ordinary without it. And i hate ordinary. Im talking about the scarf part.
I love all the newly found ways of styling it, and the volume and how it wraps around your face.. I honestly get sad sometimes when I think about taking it off, because I will miss wearing pink around my face nweird I know!! Now trust me this is a really big deal to me lol. I guess i like standing out and not blending in. It comes from the stupid arrogance that I get sometimes. I hate my arrogance and I want to get rid of it...

2- I will no longer be 'MaddieTheHijabi'. It has become a part of my identity in a way. Its what made me who I am and made me 'special'. Also I cannot represent hijab on youtube anymore and that saddens me...

3- I will miss hijab styling. Its like adornment to me really than a religious commitment. In all honesty. I think thinking thatway,in and of itself, makes me no longer a hijabi. I love how It can frame my face any way I want, unlike hair, and it can be any color or material...and I also love how thinning it can be and a big confidence boost.

4- I will have nothing to hide behind. Hijab is like a safety blanket. Without it you feel exposed, and your self esteem is tested.

5- No more mystery. Hijab provides mystery and makes others wonder what you look like without it, and when taken off, im honestly weary of what people might think, because i've let their imagination run wild for so long. What if I look nothing like they expected? And look at my hair and go 'thats it?'. Its like I lost my zeal.

6- I will become invisible. Even in a mostly muslim country like Egypt, Not wearing hijab makes you blend in with the background.. At least around the places and social status i live in. Usually girls without hijab, esp college students, the majority are the ones that are very care free and natural looking and dont put much effort in their appearance, but then there are those who go overboard, and few in between. I dunno how to explain this very well, but the way women in hijab are able to decorate themselves, it stands out more sometimes than a non hijabi. It also somehow has more character. Hair is so yesterday lol.

7- If I took it off, I feel like I can only feel as good about myself without it, if I wear wigs! I know this sounds crazy but my thin baby fine hair is nothing compared to my voluminous puffed up headscarves. I would need some serious hair extensions or wigs (i happen to like wigs btw). Wigs would also solve number 6 and 1 in the Hijab con list above.

8- People might not take me seriously when they see me after taking it off. They will judge me and think how superficial and self concsious I must be. It happened to a girl in my class who took hers off. I remember the rest of the girls and my friends talking behind her back in the bathroom..they weren't overly rude but you could hear the distaste and insult they had in their voices. Sadly I misjudged her too, thinking she had low esteem. But the girl did explain later on how depressed she was in it and was forced to wear it.

Thats all I can think of for now. I will continue this later insha Allah.

1 comment:

aneebaba said...

Salaam sis Madiha!!!!!!


First off, Mabrook on having your Nikaah done officially!! May Allah (swt) Bless your union with happiness, Mercy, affection and tranquility! Ameen!

Even as a guy, I can understand the pros and cons of this issue, as with the world being small and being able hear opinions from those going through similar problems, one comes across posts or articles like this one.

I think there is that battle between a cultural reason and the religious reason for wearing it. In the end, it is a case-by-case basis and one's relationship with both themselves and Allah (swt).

Anyways, check my Google reader after a while and saw your posts and just wanted to drop in and say salaam and pass on my continuing best wishes and brotherly love to you.

Insha'allah, hope you are doing better health-wise.

Take care!

Br. / Dr. Anees