Excuse my spelling errors, I’m a foreigner who learned Turkish and I might have written incoherently. I want to tell my own veiling and unveiling story on this website.
I’m the daughter of a religious family and I’m a senior at college. I’m 23. There was this thing: I was a really religious child when I was 8-9 and I got in hijab by imitating my mother; so, with my own will. I was very interested in religion back then; I had even started to perform salat 2-3 times a day. After I finished 3rd grade, I stayed with my grandmother and grandfather for a year; my grandmother is a deist. Even though I didn’t get my period at that age, my puberty began when I was 10, and the beginning of it was the end of my hallowed religiosity; as you might understand, I was disheartened from veiling.
After 4th grade was over, my mother and father took me with them again, I moved to another city and changed schools. I was 10 and a half. They didn’t meddle with what I wore the first 1-2 months, but as the weather got colder, they started to meddle a lot. They made me wear skirts on jeans, tie a headscarf with a knot on the back; so, my neck was open but there was a skirt on my jeans, can you imagine this nonsense? They said it was the age for veiling. Of course, I was not veiled at school. I went on like this for 4-5 months and I thought that they wouldn’t veil me until I got my period, but 2 months after I was 11, my father said, “I want you to veil completely from now on;” without the slightest objection, I started veiling in a normal way and I was wearing a very long skirt, a sweater and a headscarf even when I was playing with my friends in the park. I was tying my headscarf the normal way now, like it was said in the Quran and hadiths. I would be scolded for not being careful with my veiling when my hair was showing just a little bit.
My mother and father separated when I was in 6th grade. My mother stopped wearing the purdah, she uncovered her face and started wearing an abaya. I realized something; after my mother and father separated, my mother began buying me more childish clothes, even though they were still veiling clothes. Their colors were livelier; she filled my wardrobe with pink cardigans and orange/blue headscarves. The only thing that changed were the colors, I knew what pants were only from my pajamas.
I realized that even though my mother dressed me more suitably to my age, I envied other girls. When I was 12-14 and I looked at my friends, I thought something like this: Veiling is for protecting the honor and chastity of a woman, and a girl who has her period should veil. But I don’t have an honor to protect at this age. Because a man who isn’t a pedophile won’t look at a 12-14-year-old. I didn’t care about love or flirting at all, I thought sexuality was dirty and gross until I was 21. So, period age doesn’t mean anything even to an 18-year-old girl. A person who is 18 is not automatically a woman.
Even though previous restrictions were reduced, and I could go outside whenever I wanted, I felt old and ugly when I hung out with my friends at the park. I envied both girls and boys. I started researching this issue online; they say women are valuable, that’s why they should be covered. I started to find this value-mentality illogical. I’m upset with this value, what kind of a value is this? You know how in comics they put a girl in burqa on the right side, and a girl in bikini on the left side—I had a feeling that the rightest thing was something in the middle of these two. But I was afraid of confessing my thoughts to my mother and I went on for 2 more years.
I was 15 and a half as the first year of high school was over, it was summer and I gathered all my courage to tell my mother that I don’t want to veil and I confessed that I kept doing this because I was afraid she would beat me. She was surprised and said she believed I veiled willingly. I said, “No, I veiled because you and dad wanted to.” She said, “Will you go around unveiled like an infidel? Are you going to get guys’ attention? What do you want by unveiling? Veiling protects your chastity.” Even though she still tries to convince me, this time it was like a regular chat. My mother made the last decision again and her decision was: “Allah is not pleased with you, neither am I. I’m only letting you to uncover your head, not to unveil.” And she really let me uncover my head. So, my hair and neck are uncovered since I was 15. But that’s enough for me anyways. I keep wearing very long things, more covered than an average veiled Turk, but without a headscarf. I really like veiled young girls’ wide and long tunics, jeans. My mother keeps arranging my wardrobe for me but I’m happy with what she buys. She buys modern clothes and the jeans-ban is off but only if I wear long-sleeved, wide blouses/shirts over my jeans to cover my hips. I also wear fully covering, long, simple dresses. And eventually I lost touch with my father. Even though sometimes we argue about other things with my mother, I still can stay with her without having psychological trouble; we’re overall good.
(Image: Inma Lorente)