To be honest, one of the most difficult parts is finding a scarf style that works with my face shape and glasses, which is basically already setting myself up for failure. But after I get through the aesthetic challenges, I grapple with the symbolism (or lack thereof) attached to it.
First of all, I am a firm believer that the aesthetic ideal is almost always a political ideal. That was true in ancient Greece (see: Augustus of Primaporta) and it’s true now (see: Victoria Secret Models). So I do believe Hijab is a political statement (or at least can be) much like makeup and any garment of clothing- and whether we like it or not- especially for women.
As such, and like every other symbol, it is only as valuable as the meaning. A symbol carries a personal value, yes, but more powerfully, it carries a more universal message, which is mostly always in the power of the beholder. Therefore, the personal beliefs are often dissolved in the projection of others.
By which I mean, if Hijab means “oppression” and not “a sign of faith,” per se, either I spend the entire time attempting to swim upstream (fighting off the mainstream) or by accepting this definition.
Here, is the hardest part for me.
I feel I need to constantly redefine and justify my choices, especially one that is so obvious. This leads to forced introspection: I need to answer question I am not ready to ask myself.
So everyday, is an attempt for me to justify, to understand why I do what I do. It gets very emotionally exhaustive. I end up in this cycle; I consistently feel that I am too ‘liberal’ for the ‘religious’ people and too ‘religious’ for the ‘liberal’ people.
And right now, in the kind of (metaphorical) climate we’re living in, I refuse to let fear dictate who I am and what I do. I know, if anything, I know taking my scarf off, to me would mean that I’ve left someone else’s definition of liberation win. I have let someone else, or another group (whoever it is) define what it means to be me. And my stubbornness won’t let that happen.