I don’t think men would accept going in the sea covered from head to toe.

Hello,

It still feels weird to be writing on this platform; it feels like a dream, although it isn’t.

Before I started high school, I began to wear a hijab entirely voluntarily. I didn’t think there was something wrong about it as everyone around me praised me. I was a highly extroverted and talkative student in middle school. But that wasn’t the case in high school; although nobody excluded or looked down on me, I always knew I was different from them. At first, I wondered whether I made a mistake. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would have been like if I hadn’t worn a hijab. But my beliefs made me feel like I shouldn’t be questioning it, and that was just something I had to do. I should have never stopped questioning.

At first, every little thing started to bother me. For instance, why did I have to look through the hijabi section when I walked into a store? When I was buying something from the standard women section, I would consider whether they were too tight or too short. However, it wasn’t like that in middle school; I would just buy a pair of pants and a t-shirt and walk out. Summer seasons were a complete nightmare. Let’s be reasonable; why would somebody cover her hair during the summer? Why cover herself from head to toe? Why swim with a burkini (conservative swimwear)? It was utterly torturing. I didn’t even feel like I was swimming. Why do women always have to carry religious or traditional symbols? In both Islam and Christianity, I think they aim at not letting women be free by doing this. If men were ordered to cover themselves, do you think anyone would follow? I don’t think they would accept going in the sea covered from head to toe. However, all those oppressive and religious men put women in a box without looking at themselves. Those are the type of men who say, “My wife should, of course, wear a headscarf!” and harass girls who don’t cover their hair on the streets.

I wanted to wear makeup. I wanted to put on colorful nail polish, to swim normally, to defend my ideas and discuss with people without hearing things like, “Don’t these ideas oppose your headscarf?” I found this platform coincidentally during my last year of high school. I read all the letters one by one. “Look, you’re not the only one; there are thousands of other women like you,” I said to myself. I somewhat empowered myself through those letters at that time. It was challenging to prepare for the university exam, and I hated myself when I looked into the mirror before leaving the house every day.

My family members are conservative people. It’s not just my family. All my relatives, friends and people around me are like that too. But I did what I knew was right; this is my life, and I only get one chance at living it. I stopped wearing a hijab as soon as high school was over. I was subjected to various insults by my family, relatives, and friends. They fought me, but I didn’t give up. Now I see that free woman when I look into the mirror; I had missed my hair dancing with the wind so much. To my guy friends who are reading this, don’t ever restrict women; support them. And to all the women, I want to say, don’t ever be scared. Even I wasn’t afraid. You shouldn’t either. Don’t give up on questioning. Don’t turn away from your own path. Never forget that you’ll never walk alone!

(Image: Katherine Bradford)

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