Talk and thought of hijabs have resurfaced in my life once again with the appearance of Ibtihaj Muhammad upon the world stage representing the USA in the Olympics. (To hear my thoughts on Ms. Muhammad and the Olympics, a podcast done by myself and a friend can be found here.) In this post, I merely wish to address a complaint commonly made by hijabis (those who wear the hijab) which is that they feel that some of us non-Muslims may give them strange looks or even stare at them. They often deduce from these regards that there are many people out there who simply cannot – or will not – tolerate the hijab, seeing it as a symbol of Islamic terrorism. While folks like this undoubtedly do exist, I honestly think that this is becoming a bit of a straw man and that much in the same way that quite literally any criticism of Islam is now deemed “Islamophobic,” any glance at a hijabi is quickly characterized as the behavior of an intolerant bigot. Moreover, I believe that the number of people in America who wish to rip hijabs off of the heads of Muslim women is dwindling and dying – yes, even with Donald Trump’s “hateful rhetoric.” The fact is, if you live in or close to a large or major city, people are likely well aware of hijabis and that they are nothing to fear. But, as one who is guilty of staring – perhaps even leering – at hijabis, please allow me to make a few points in defense of this behavior.
If you are a Muslim woman who wears the hijab and feel that you are being looked at or stared at often, it could very well be because you are hot – yes, attractive, beautiful, easy on the eyes. Are you telling me that if you saw one of these three beauties on a bus or train, you wouldn’t steal glances at them?
What if this group of Persian women sashayed on by? My god, look at the second from the left! Look at those pants! These women are all nines!
One must also keep in mind that you can wear the hijab and still have a great body. Look at this girl:
Also, if you are a naturally pretty girl with some makeup skills and a knack for accessorizing, you’ll attract eyes with or without a hijab:
And dear god, let’s not forget about the power of tall boots and high heels. Fucking hell, if either one of these two were to stride past me I’d bite my fist and moan longingly:
Now, I am a guy who already – for some reason – finds himself drawn to hijabis. I find them attractive. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll tell you it’s not that cheap thought that many have which is that there’s an element of “mystery” involved since one knows not what’s ‘neath the scarf. Honestly, though, that’s not the case. All the women pictured above are hot with the scarf on. I’m not dying to see what’s underneath. What the hijab adds is what I find attractive. But the aesthetics of the hijab and it’s many stylistic variations is another topic for another time and could probably fill a book. Now don’t misunderstand me, there are also boring and ugly ways to wear the hijab, but I’m not even going to put pictures of these styles in this post – look it up. I’m sure anyone can imagine the bland women of Islam. The bottom line is this: if you’re hot and you wear the hijab, you’re still hot; if you’re ugly and you wear the hijab, you’re still ugly. And hot girls get attention whether they want it or not. I’m sorry.
As I said above, if you live in a metropolitan area, the people around you are most likely aware of the hijab and don’t even give it much thought. I’m speaking generally here, in the same way that America is not racist but racist people exist, there are of course some people who disdain the hijab while the population as a whole remains tolerant. However, if you wear a hijab and end up in some small town in the middle of Missouri of Montana, you will likely be stared at. And why not? This is something the inhabitants of these locales have probably never seen in person before. As somewhat of a parallel, the first time I saw a woman wearing a burqa in person was, for me, a bit of a shock. Here I am, a kid about 12 years of age who grew up in the suburbs and has only had a few Muslim schoolmates, none of whom wore a hijab. Suddenly in a Chuck E. Cheese I see two women who seem to be gliding over the ground completely swallowed up in long, flowing, anthracite fabric. This is the sort of sight that a child like me would have only seen around Halloween. I remember simply standing there and staring. Another kid near me was jeering at the women and one of them turned to him while pulling her son along and said that she’d hit the loudmouth if his parents wouldn’t do it. This was an all-around bizarre experience.
Now the climate these days is that we (white Americans) ought to feel somewhat ashamed when we are shocked by contact with a culture we’ve never seen in person before. But why shouldn’t we be? I originally planned to use as an analogy a woman dressed like this
walking down the streets of Riyadh, but then it occurred to me that the Saudis are already well aware that women dress like this, for they see their sisters and mothers without their burqa. So instead let’s imagine a woman in a hijab or burqa is dropped in a random city in Peru or El Salvador. The Hispanic people there would probably react just as I did, having most likely never seen anybody like this in person, before their eyes. And why shouldn’t they? It’s completely normal.
One last point: if someone stares, jeers, or harasses you as you happen to be wearing a hijab, please keep in mind that you may have simply had an encounter with a crazy ass hole, and their behavior does not reflect fairly upon the country as a whole. Our Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad once related a story of being followed around New York by someone threatening to call the police. Big deal. Get over it. The guy’s an idiot. My brother-in-law was recently in a Target in downtown Chicago and a woman walked up to him and yelled out to the store while she pointed at him “Somebody suck his dick!” He didn’t take this as an attack against men by some crazy feminist or anything. It was simply an encounter with a stupid, crazy person in a major metropolitan area – a regular occurrence.
So, if you wear a hijab and feel that people stare at you, first ask yourself “Am I an attractive woman?” If yes, that is probably why people are staring. If you’re ugly, they may be staring because they simply are seeing something, or somebody, they don’t often see in their daily life. Or perhaps you happened to cross paths with one stupid, crazy person. That’s all. Just deal with it and move on. We all get attention we don’t want from time to time, but we can’t stay holed up in our homes to avoid it, only going out into the world with a chaperone or something. That’d be no way to live.