I was under psychological pressure to start wearing a headscarf: “It is time now, death is closer than we think!”

I’m a woman who has spent more than half of her life wearing a headscarf, had many dilemmas about it, and finally found her own real self at the age of 31.

I’m the oldest daughter in a not-so-religious family that’s always on its toes due to community pressure. I was a little girl who could wear a one-piece swimsuit on vacation but couldn’t even wear trousers in her neighborhood. I was an 8-year-old who got slapped by her father in front of a friend just because of wearing a legging in the streets.

Therefore, it was obvious that I was not going to be able to walk around without covering my hair when I grow up.

I was 12 years old during The 1999 İzmit earthquake. Although my parents thought they were not pressuring me, although I thought that it was my own decision, I was under psychological pressure to start wearing a headscarf: “It is time now, death is closer than we think!”

One day, I was dressing up for a wedding, and I wanted to see if a headscarf would look good with a dress. What I had seen in the mirror was a beautiful young woman who definitely would be appreciated by her parents. What was I waiting for? I kept the dress and headscarf and went to the wedding like that.

In the following 18 years, I thought many times “If I hadn’t decided to wear a headscarf that day, I would have never started wearing it.” but I had never thought of the alternative, taking off the scarf that made me feel hypocritical and was a burden on me. I couldn’t even find the courage to share this thought with my husband of 10 years, until one day, when I told him jokingly. His response was quite shocking; he said, “It’s your personal issue, live as you wish.” Then I started to believe that my dream to take my scarf off might actually turn into reality.

Of course, realizing this dream was not so easy. First, I told my mother, she did not take me seriously and said, “Don’t be crazy.” My father’s reaction was more reasonable: “It doesn’t matter what I think for someone your age, it is your decision.” Then my mother told me, “I won’t be in your life as long as you don’t wear a headscarf. You lost me.”

My world turned upside down, I didn’t even talk to my dearest for a long time. One day, I decided that it’s time to confront her. I told her, “It’s my choice to stop covering my hair, and it’s yours to reject me as a daughter; either you will learn to respect my choice or stand firm with your decision.” She finally understood how determined I was and started to respect my decision.

It took half an hour to go out without a headscarf for the first time, but I did it! It took a while to stop caring about what other people think as well, but I got more and more confident about myself through time. It’s been 9 months now, and I’m writing this piece with ease of mind. I suggest that before getting upset about what other people might say, look at how they live with their own truth and never care about people trapped between talking and living.

(Image: Winifred Knights)

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