If I go to university, I will take my headscarf off.

Hello, I’m a 17 years old high school senior. Like everyone, who shared their stories here, I covered my hair without thinking ahead. I was only 9 when first covered my hair; it was the summer break of 4th grade I remember.  

My mother would praise secondary -religious schools- a.k.a. “imam hatip” and tell me that I should go there. She would say things like “it’s a very beautiful place where you will receive religious training and become a devout Muslim girl”.  When the registration period came, she asked me which school I want to go to and I said “the one you told me about, mom”. Her asking me as if there were another choice was just her effort of trying to make it look like I was the one who wanted to go there. I studied there for 2 years, and before the beginning of the 7th grade I said, “I can’t do it anymore”. While my other lessons’ grades were high the religious courses were always dropping my gpa down. And after fighting with my family they moved me to a private school.

That’s where I began asking questions to myself like ‘why am I like this’. I was feeling miserable and ugly. After the high school placement test I got placed to a science based high school which made my family very happy. They said, “you are going be a great devout doctor”. In the 9th grade there was a girl, I would never forget, with whom I had arguments about religious topics. She told me that religion is oppressive and regressive for people. I told her that it wasn’t true. Later there was a pride walk that was not allowed, and my friend mentioned them by saying “they are restricting the walk, due to religious reasons” and I said “so they should not walk then, do we have to see it?”. Then another day while I was surfing on YouTube seeing a male make-up artist putting up make-up on himself made me so mad. I left negative comments on the video. A few weeks passed by, and I stumble upon the same channel again. In the video he was talking about how he doesn’t understand why people hate him on the internet for doing what he loves because he wasn’t doing anything harmful to anyone therefore, he doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment. After thinking a lot about what he said I thought he was right. What has he done to us? Then I regretted what I had written on the comments and deleted them all and replace them with positive comments. And for some reason I saw a similarity between us. He was just like me; he wanted to be the person he aspires to be, but he was being bullied for that. I still follow that channel.

While I was struggling with these questions my self-esteem was falling back. Even when I was going to the canteen at school I would do it real fast so no one would see me. I wouldn’t make eye contact either. When I passed to the 11th grade I said I’ve had enough. I was drowning and I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt that the thing on my head does not belong to me. When I told my mother, she disapproved and said, “there can’t be such a thing”. I didn’t give up, I kept talking about it. And finally, my mother told my father. My dad said “Do you want to expose yourself to men? I didn’t get it. Was it about exposing myself to men? Was it my purpose? I never had a boyfriend and never had such aspirations. If that was my intention, I could do it now anyways.

I’m very sick of this, I would oversleep all the time and I’ve become very aggressive. My grades were getting worse. Lastly, on the last 2 months of the school I got transferred to another one. And right now, I’m preparing myself for the university admission exams. There’s only 4 months left, if I go to university, I’ll take my hijab off. My mother saw how determined I am and said, “go to another city, do whatever you want as long as I don’t see it”. I hope I succeed. And you too all have trust in yourselves. Never say never, tell your families, of course as long as they hear it, they will get used to it and accept it. This is your life. Even if it’s a sin this is your sin. Never give up on hoping…

(Image: Polina Washington)

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