The idea to wear a headscarf is actually something my pre-teen sister wanted to do back in 2002. Her Muslim friends were getting hassled at school as part of the aftermath of 9/11 so she wanted to wear one to show her support to them. I thought the idea was beautiful, and have spent 14 years building up the courage to try.
In the real world on Day 1, I’ve mostly noticed inconveniences. I was feeling under the weather for the past few days so yesterday was my catch up day on all things domestic – laundry, baking, cleaning, and gardening. I managed to squeeze in a trip to the local Catholic thrift store though.
I found digging around outside in a headscarf to be pretty sweaty business. The tassels kept getting in the way. As I would hope for in Canada, every person I encountered in the store was courteous. I probably had 4-5 verbal interactions while I walked around for half an hour. Maybe people were even extra courteous? At one point, I realized that my scarf was coming off. The strap from my purse had yanked it all out of place and hair was starting to spill everywhere! I had to duck into a change room to re-pin everything.
Driving to and from the store was disconcerting because my scarf impeded my peripheral vision. From now on I will be extra careful to pin the scarf back further.
So far my questions are, how close does a male family member have to be before they can see you without your headscarf? What about cousins? What about in-laws? What happens when someone unexpected comes knocking on your door?
While in person things have been uneventful, online I’ve created a bit of controversy, mostly behind the scenes. Two different sources have pointed out to me that often times, Muslims aren’t dog owners because it is a common interpretation of their Scriptures that dogs as pets are inappropriate. I’m not pretending to be Muslim – just wearing a headscarf for 10 days – so I’m still trying to figure out what the most loving way of handling this situation is. This was a piece of the puzzle I wasn’t expecting.
Other comments have cropped up too. It caused me to evaluate, what exactly am I saying when I take a stand like this? This is what I have decided I am saying:
I support a woman’s right to dress as modestly or immodestly as she desires, from bikini to burkini. I stand in solidarity with every innocent Muslim woman who has ever felt unsure or unsafe in a Western context. I stand against hate and violence done to anyone, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. Lastly, and most importantly for the purposes of this experiment, I consider it an important task to try to understand a little better the life of the “other”. I am hoping this experiment will help me do just that.