Hijab how-to


I went to Iran around three years ago to visit my family members that live there. I was pretty apprehensive about going because I had never been somewhere so different in my life. Primarily there would be the obvious language and culture barriers, but I was anxious about other restrictions too. In Iran, women have major dressing restrictions – I mean, Iran’s no Saudi Arabia, but women still have to be very conservative. Women could not wear tight clothing in public (which sucked because I loved wearing tight pants at the time) and had to have their arms up to their hands and legs completely covered (yet another blessing for my long extremities.) And of course, true to Middle Eastern nature, women were ordered to wear a¬†headscarf.
Now I know you’re probably thinking burka when I say headscarf, but there is a difference. A burka covers an entire woman’s face excluding her eyes – and I did see plenty of those in Iran, but they were worn by the more religious and older women. The headscarf I wore was a hijab, which is meant to cover a woman’s hair, not her face. The term hijab also applies to the style of dress I had to adhere to and can be applied to both men and women: loose-fitting, conservative clothing, and for women, a headscarf.
Despite the West’s stigma against it, dressing in the hijab style wasn’t as bad as I thought – or you might think – it would be. Since we went in March, the weather was still nice and I didn’t burn up. Wearing the hijab actually comforted me a bit and made me feel more confident at times – I didn’t have to worry about weird guys checking me out (okay this might not have happened but I still hate having people looking at me) and knew that who I was meant so much more than how I look, which is actually the point that the hijab is supposed to emphasize. If you’ve got a grudge on another country’s cultural custom, chances are that you’re misinformed about it, so go ahead and try it – you might find yourself respecting and enjoying it.