|Illustration: Lo Cole|
'Sometimes I miss those times before I wore a scarf'
The Muslim woman: 'I’m much more shy than I like to admit, so perhaps the scarf suits my personality as well as my religious inclinations.'
When I'm walking down the street, the first thing you see is my headscarf and the negative images that come with it. You ignore and overlook me, and you might think I don't mind, but I'm tired of strangers seeing me as different. I want to belong.
Sometimes I miss those times before I wore a scarf – mostly feeling the wind in my hair. I also have mixed emotions about how I choose to look; there are moments of difficulty and doubt. Sometimes I wonder if I would have more fun not wearing one. When non-Muslim colleagues see me without it, they say I could be a model. I know that wearing it takes away from me as a sexual being. The idea of male attention makes me feel awkward, too. Before wearing the scarf, I remember once standing at a bus stop and feeling very uncomfortable with another student's attention. I think I'm much more shy than I like to admit, so perhaps the scarf suits my personality as well as my religious inclinations.
And yet. I wish female beauty wasn't so intertwined with sexuality. Now I assume that men who do pay me attention are gay and admiring my pretty scarf.
In moments of doubt, I can be influenced by the media and advertising. Sometimes I entertain the idea of conforming, but I remember my principles and those thoughts quickly disappear.
Still, I'm glad my perfect size eight hourglass figure isn't the first thing you see and like about me. I feel beautiful even if you don't see it all.