I want to share my story too. Maybe it will be a hope for some others.
I had covered my hair in the summer of 2005. That summer, when I passed from my sophomore year to my junior year, I received the news that my best friend had put a headscarf, and frankly, I was distraught. Because we were the only “not veiled” girls in our group of friends. I knew I had to wear a headscarf eventually. I had veiled and then unveiled since I began middle school, from time to time. My family expected me to cover my hair anyway. As I grew up, I realized that I did not want to do that, but that was my social environment expected from me. And strangely, I thought that this was what I was supposed to do.
My father wouldn’t pay much attention to us. Well, of course, he would, but I never saw him meddle with our hair, apparel, etc. My mother is a delightful person. Music, art, sports; she is a person who has been into all kinds of social activities, and every branch of the fine arts. She had gradually veiled her head towards the end of her twenties. She always appears in her older photos with makeup and her hair straightened.
For my family, I can say that they are progressive persons of the conservative section, in the context of Turkey. Thanks to them, we became some of the cultured kids, studied in decent schools, and pointed out others with fingers. I certainly can not deny that. But I want to talk about my childhood years. Except for the last few years, I never wore vests. Nor mini skirts, shorts, etc. I never even had a hat. “Instead of wearing hats, veil your head,” my mother would say, and I was forbidden from wearing pants. Since the years I started middle school, I have been wearing long skirts. I madly wondered what kind of feelings wearing a vest and a mini skirt and stepping into the sea with a swimsuit were. Would one wonder these? With the mind of a child, you question things you do not know. My mother must undoubtedly have had reasons of her own, I think now; I do not want to believe in anything otherwise. I mean, my mother’s attitude was sort of like a mobbing. There was no direct pressure, but in some situations, she slammed: “Veil your head instead of doing that.”
My childhood was already passing with a meekness I did not know the reason for. I felt weird after I ended up dressing differently from my peers. When I look back, I realize that things that appeared very small had truly saddened me. Unfortunately, I can not explain this situation to those responsible.
What was I saying? The summer of 2005. When I started school after the holiday, my cool friends on the school bus started not talking to me like before, then verbally externalizing me. I endured, with the dream of going to university after my last year. When I started university, I relaxed a lot because many people wear headscarves in a huge city, and I was withering away with them. This time, I tried to get ahead of myself to prove that “I was different from them”—boyfriends, alcohol, etc. After my looks and the things I was doing started to become distant, I began to defend the idea that “Everyone can do as they wish, no one is an angel.” “What am I doing?” I was thinking from the inside, but also saying, “I can do whatever I want with my headscarf; this is none of anyone’s concern.” I was torn between what was happening and what should have been happening. From then on, I wanted to unveil. I knew my father would not get very sad, but my mother would be distraught, and I did not want to sadden my mother. In years, I found myself a way of life. I started to use the headscarf as an accessory. I went to the grocery store with a hoodie, opened the door to the delivery boy without a scarf, didn’t wear the hijab when going to swim.
Then someone entered my life. I felt so unique and precious, which gave me the belief that I could accomplish anything I wanted. “This is your life. Do not feel obliged to do something you do not want to, for anybody. Even if this person were me…” After that, I managed to go out without veiling from time to time. How beautiful it was, to feel the wind in my hair, while not feeling guilty of that, after nine years.
After carrying on half unveiled half-veiled for a year or two, I realized I could not bear anymore and one day called my mother, crying. Of course, she got angry and told me that my boyfriend was making me do this by force, she did not talk to me for a while. My father’s words, on the other hand, made me weep out of joy. “I knew this was a burned on you, do whatever that will make you happy.” After that day, we never spoke of me, unveiling. Neither my mother nor my father asked me my reasons even once. My mother’s tough attitude broke in a short time. I am happy as I never was.
If you are reading this, do not be afraid! You are not alone! In times when you are hopeless, when fear is triumphant over you, always think of this: Hundreds of women passed the roads you are moving.
You are not alone; do not be afraid.
(Image: Samella Lewis)