“Speaking now, however, from within the hijab, I ask Allison and my past self, firstly, what evidence do you have that the veiled woman is even judging you? And secondly, why are you worrying about your own outfit based on what someone else is wearing? If a twentysomething single happened to sit opposite in leather-look skinnies and Miu Miu sunglasses, that same ‘practical Boden skirt’ might now be making you feel frumpy. We need to break this habit of projecting our own insecurities onto somebody else and claiming ‘it’s not fair because they don’t dress like me and it makes me feel uncomfortable’.

“Us humans are such delicate and insecure little creatures, we are so quick to reject what we don’t understand, and to judge and refute what doesn’t fit to our expectations. The thing about this beautifully diverse and varied world of ours, however, is that one man’s ‘norm’ is another man’s ‘alien’. One member of the public when asked what they thought about women wearing the hijab said it “makes them look like they are clinging to an alien way of life”. An amusing choice of words, but haven’t we all at some point judged someone for being ‘weird’ just because they weren’t like us?

“But what does ‘like us’ even mean? Shylock has it covered when he asked “if you prick us, do we not bleed?” We are all human, and deep down we’re all the same. If you’re feeling insecure about what a covered woman is thinking of you, chances are she is actually having the same worries of what you are thinking of her. Every hijabi I have ever spoken to, and myself included, went through some kind of courage-building, dare-I-dare-I-not inner journey before wearing the hijab in public, due to some element of fear of how others around us might react. I can assure you, the scarves on our heads reflect nothing of what we think of you or your dress sense or lifestyle choices, but instead are deeply personal and are simply a symbol of our own identity and our choices. When asking my sisters in Islam for their stories on why they wear hijab, not one person even mentioned the Qur’an or stories of Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him. Of course, discuss hijab for long enough and it won’t take long for these subjects to come into mention, but not until the various personal aspects and reasons have had their say, because that’s what hijab is; a deeply personal choice.

“I choose to wear the hijab because without it, no one knows I am Muslim. I choose to wear the hijab because I love sharing the knowing nod and smile when a fellow hijabi passes me by in the street – perhaps a sensation you might relate to if you’ve ever passed a stranger wearing the same band t-shirt as you, or football shirt of the same team.”

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