First of all, let me introduce myself. I’m a 34-year-old woman with a highly respected profession in the community (and I have achieved this on my own). I stopped wearing a headscarf at 33, that is, last year. I was 15 when I wore it for the first time, so I spent 18 years with it.
I’ve read all the stories written before I wrote this. Seeing familiarity in all of them, even if it’s just one word, pushed me to write this. I’m inclined to think of such things as conspiracies. But then, I couldn’t hold my tears back when reading one. That’s why I’m writing my own.
I had a closed-minded, conservative, and religious family. My father couldn’t take care of us, because his job was far away. He also was religious and conservative, but he didn’t have time to worry. My mother was a traditional housewife, but she didn’t put pressure on us. We were living thinking like “whatever will be, will be.” You know, there were some familial and cultural rules. Nobody talked about them, nobody dictated them, but they were applied. In our family, when a girl hits puberty, she must cover herself, and she stays away from men. These were invisible rules. Women in my family were always like this. My mother wanted me to be the same, even if she didn’t enforce it. Nobody said, “Cover yourself.” but I’ve learned and grown knowing this.
When I turned 15, I wore a headscarf on my own decision. If you ask me why I wore one, I couldn’t explain it. It was just the culture and traditions of the family.
I think when most headscarved people say, “It’s my own will,” it’s nothing more than a remnant of the family, mother, and traditions.
Except one in a million, no one can decide what they’ll want to wear for the rest of their lives when they’re about 14. Such willpower is out of the question, and it’s nothing but tradition and invisible oppression. I am asking you… All of you… What thing you wear at 15, can make you declare an intention that will not change for all your life? Which one of you doesn’t regret how she dressed back then? How can a woman in her thirties still be able to defend the headscarf she is wearing, saying it’s her own will? What does it mean?
I went through my twenties with these questions. I was wearing a headscarf, but I was setting my own style, and I loved it. With time, these thoughts began spinning in my head. What I saw, my questioning of traditions, my pondering on body politics, put me off the headscarf. The headscarf, which I was mentally distant from, was still in my head for years.
When wearing pants, I was tired of trying to hide my body shape as a reflex, the anxiety about my wrist appearing, or about my hair showing up. My brothers, other men… None of them was under this psychological burden. Why? What was the reason? I wanted an explanation for years. I hid my body as if someone advised it. My psychology, my values were shaped as such. I looked at the clothes of other women. Then judged them with conservative dress codes. I became an enforcer of the system I hated.
I was keeping myself from men so distant that I never had a boyfriend for so many years. No, I’m not ugly, I’d say it’s the opposite. But the reflexes to keeping myself away, the psychology of reproaching, the endless judgment, the sexuality that’s pushed away and always burying yourself alive…
I buried my own body alive.
Due to defects, sins, invisible restrictions, I spent my youth without any love. Is this life? What is life? If this is not the source of my deep unhappiness, then what is? They say geography is destiny… Exactly… My fate was to be born here to these traditions and to lose my youth to these habits…
At 33, I decided to not wear the headscarf. I was already drifting away in my mind, and it was making men and women unequal. Being known like this, my family’s reaction, shocked expressions, and lots of bad comments… I threw all these thoughts aside and didn’t wear a headscarf one day. It was just like any other workday. My colleagues looked at me, got a little surprised, and it was over. My mother… the same. It was not like what I thought.
That day, I woke up and stood in front of the mirror. When I was dressed to wear my headscarf, I suddenly gave up. I wore pants and a shirt instead.
Was my butt too visible? Should I have worn something longer to cover it? What about the veil? Do I look like a sex machine that turns men on? Didn’t God want me to be a whore asking for it?
Shopping at modern clothing stores was natural for men, so why was I looking for something that covers my butt? Why was I incompatible with modern life? Could it be because I was following dress codes from stone-age that promotes inequality?
I gave up…
My body is like everyone’s body. With my own conscience, I refuse to portray it as secondary. God wouldn’t spare the wind from my hair.
(Image: Ravshaniya Azulye)