Day 1: How to Cause a Stir (with one yard of fabric or less!)

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.



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