I unconsciously started to wear a hijab at the age of 12-13. My family did not literally force me, but I was raised with fears like “gossiping is the same as eating human flesh,” “you will burn if you put on makeup” or “you should wear hijab because the hell is warmer than it” as a child, so I had no choice. I didn’t even know I had another option. These words wore me very much as my psychology did not sound like a child. I did not talk to anyone, I saw that I ate human flesh in my nightmares, I did what my family said. Of course, they were pleased with the situation, “Look at Derya, she always listens to her family” were the comments they heard from everyone, which made them proud.
When I went to high school, things changed, I didn’t want to live like that anymore, but I didn’t know any other kind. As I researched, I thought this was ridiculous. Doing this was heavy because of the creatures seduced by the hair, raping bottles, cats, and dogs. I was not a treasure or a commodity. Why was I wearing a headscarf, I had no idea anymore. I stopped performing prayer and got depressed. I took antidepressants, but my family didn’t think they were the reason for this because they were doing the right thing. I am not angry with them; nobody would want it to be like this, but I was not normal. I became thoroughly asocial in high school. I saw myself very ugly, and I believed that this body wasn’t mine. There was a conflict between myself and my appearance. While people treated me as a zealot, I was reading a couple of books a day. I understood it well, but I wasn’t brave. How could I be? It was not possible as someone who had lived according to her family’s decisions throughout her whole life.
I’ve always been sent to halaqas (religious gathering), I hated it but never said it. I didn’t want to listen to the words of people who see women as objects, and all this has accumulated. When I was 18, I said I didn’t want to wear a hijab in a sudden nerve burst, my mother took a stand and didn’t talk to me, so I gave up. I couldn’t lose my only reason for being in life. I started university now, and I still have these crises. I say to myself, “If I had only one friend, who would support me, I would get my courage, but there is not, and day by day, I am getting tired of carrying this body that does not belong to me.”.
(Image: Naji Chalhoub)