World Hijab Day: Sharing my Hijab Story

In the spirit of World Hijab Day, I wanted to come here and share my hijab story. In my household, I was always expected to wear the hijab; it was just a matter of when. Interestingly enough, each family member had a different take on me wearing the hijab. My oldest brother wasn’t the biggest fan as he’s experienced a lot of racism in his lifetime and was afraid I’d endure more of it with a hijab on. I was already a visible person of color, and he was afraid that displaying I was Muslim too would only hurt me in this lifetime. My middle brother became my parents’ unwitting agent, tasked with persuading me to embrace the hijab. Despite his best efforts, he didn’t succeed. My youngest older brother didn’t want me putting on the hijab until I decided I was ready for it. To him, the hijab was more than just a scarf on your head, and I later learned that, too. 

I had maybe two main barriers to becoming a hijabi; one was the idea that I had to fit a specific mold- a mold I couldn’t describe but didn’t know if I was the right fit. I wasn’t a girly girl, I didn’t love dresses, my face wasn’t a perfect oval, my skin wasn’t fair, and the girls that I saw wearing the hijab all were. Family members often told me it was an automatic respect card, but a respect card meant I had big shoes to fill. The second barrier was I wasn’t a slip-on hijabi kind of girl (which I had seen my mom wear most of my life); I had my insecurities and felt that kind of hijab only emphasized them. 

In May/June of 2016, my best friend and I decided to dress up and swap outfits. I gave her a salwar kameez, and she gave me an abaya. We did our makeup, but I wanted to put on the hijab. I asked her to teach me how to wear the hijab the way she was wearing it. Once she had put it on at that point in my life, I had never felt more beautiful. I spent that entire summer researching and learning about the hijab, how it helps us build our relationship with Allah SWT, what it represents as a Muslim woman, the role we play as Muslim women, and so much more. I learned about haya and modesty as a lifestyle and ended up building a foundation that I still carry with me today. 

I then urged my middle brother to take me shopping to buy hijabs, where he promised me a Louis Vuitton scarf that I could wear as a hijab, which I’m still waiting on. I will forever be grateful to my friend for sitting with me that summer, sorting through fabrics, making outfits, and trying on different hijab styles that I felt comfortable in for my face shape (so much so we even stepped up my mom’s hijab game), colors that complimented me, and teaching me that even when we are born Muslim, we still need to learn about Islam and fall in love with it as if we knew nothing about it. 

So, with my new knowledge about Islam paired with my favorite black hijab, I began wearing the hijab that year. I knew that wearing the hijab was a personal choice, and I realized that it was also a form of empowerment and control over one’s presentation to the world. I had learned modesty had its own form of beauty, and this mold I was so afraid of was one of class, elegance, handling things with grace, and, most importantly, being myself unapologetically. Once I had put it on, I didn’t feel sheltered in this box like I had thought I would. Don’t get me wrong; people will try to put you in this box and underestimate you, but it’s your job to stay true to who you are. With my good friends and brothers cheering me on on the sidelines, I found that version of me,  the unapologetic, outspoken, observant, just happy-to-be-here me. To be classy, I embraced my smart wit and quick tongue, used it for good, and started surrounding myself with people who shared similar values and wanted to see me grow positively. I learned that Muslim women are honored to represent our religion, and I carry that every day. Eight years later, I still love my hijab, the good hijab days, and the bad hijab days, too. InshAllah, it stays that way. May Allah SWT help us all strengthen our imaan.

I’d love to hear your hijab stories, hijabi struggles, and how we can support each other in our hijab journey. Let’s start a conversation in the comments below!!!