I probably don’t fit the picture of a „rebel“. I have no visible tattoos and only a few piercings. I don’t even have a leather jacket. Most people think when they see me that I am one of the „oppressed women“. The brave people who once put up all their courage and ask me about the way I dress usually ask questions like, „Do your parents force you to wear this?“ or „Don’t you think that’s unfair?“
A while back in Montreal, a couple of girls were expelled from school because they dressed the way I do. It seems strange that a small piece of material causes such disputes. Maybe it’s the fear that I could hide an Uzi under it! Of course, this topic is about more than just this little piece of cloth. I am a Muslim woman who, like millions of other Muslim women around the world, has chosen to wear the hijab. And contrary to popular belief, the concept of hijab is one of the most fundamental aspects of empowering women.
When I cover myself, I take away the opportunity for people to judge me by my appearance. I cannot be classified based on my attractiveness or my lack of attractiveness.
Let’s make a comparison to our society today: We always measure each other based on our clothing, our jewelry, our hair and our makeup. What is that scale? Yes, I have a body, a physical manifestation on this earth. But it is the seat of an intelligent mind and a strong personality. It is not intended for the lascivious viewer or for use in advertising to sell everything from beer to the car!
Due to the superficiality of the world in which we live, external appearances are emphasized in such a way that the value of the individual hardly counts at all. It is a myth that women should be free in today’s society! What kind of freedom can it be if a woman can’t even walk the streets without her physical appearance being scrutinized?
When I wear the hijab, I feel liberated from these things. I can be sure that nobody will look at me and draw conclusions about my character from the length of my skirt. There is a boundary between me and those who want to take advantage of me. I first of all a human being, equal to every man and not vulnerable to my gender.
One of the saddest truths of our time is the question of the beauty myth and female body shape. If you read the popular teen magazines, you can immediately determine which body shape is “in” or “out” – and if you have the „wrong“ body shape, you will of course try to change it, right? After all, there is no pardon, you cannot be overweight and still be pretty.
Look at every advertisement. Is a woman used to sell the product? How old is she? How attractive is it? How is she dressed Very often, she will hardly be older than the early 20s, taller, slimmer and more attractive than the average, in tight clothing. Why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated this way?
Believe it or not, the woman of the 90s is pressed into a mold. She is forced to sell herself, to reveal herself. For this reason, we meet 13-year-old girls who put their fingers in their throats and overweight adolescents who hang.
When people ask me if I feel oppressed, I can honestly answer „no“. I made this decision out of my own free will. I like the fact that I myself have control over how other people perceive me. I enjoy the fact that I don’t let everyone look at everything, and I’ve freed myself from the constraint of fluctuating public opinion in the fashion industry and other institutions that exploit women.
My body is my own business. Nobody can tell me what to look like and whether I am pretty or not. I know there is more than that. I can also comfortably say „no“ when people ask me if I don’t feel suppressed in my sexuality. I absolutely took control of my sexuality myself. I am very grateful that I never have to suffer again from fate, to try to lose or gain weight or to find exactly the lipstick that suits my skin color. I made my choice of what my merits are and these are not among them.
So next time you see me, don’t look at me so pityingly. I am under no pressure and I am not a male prisoner of these barbarians from the Arabian deserts! I am liberated.