Changing the Conversation: Veiling

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“It makes me sad that they feel like they have to cover up like that…”

my mom says to me as we take a cdbc970ba3351aad8c2c98a1bd1c1345stroll around an outdoor mall near my house. We had encountered two veiled, Muslim women who were having ice cream together on a bench. After getting over my initial annoyance at her false impressions, I was excited by my mother’s comment and the opportunity to have a conversation about the many misconceptions we western women hold of veiled women from Islamic backgrounds. The truth is, many of us have had this thought.

Most important to understand is, veiling is a choice. It is not sad because they feel like they have to. Quite the opposite. For many women, veiling is a way in which they can express their feminism and independence. This is a stark contrast from our stereotypes of women in Middle Eastern countries being forced by their husbands or their male dominant societies to cover themselves up. In a novel I read in preparation for our trip to Morocco, there was a story of a teenage girl from a wealthy home in morocco who made the decision to veil. Her father was furious that she was ‘covering up her beauty’ and held his own stereotype about the types of people who veiled being beneath him in status and wealth. The young woman in the story decided to veil, against her father’s wishes, as an expression of her own independence, feminism, and religion. This choice was not made for her.

Something that I have found very interesting to ponder is: what do these women think of us? What do Islamic women think of American women and their constant striving to be thin, pretty, well dressed…all for the approval of others, especially men. Maybe, in reality, we are the ones that are looked upon with the thought “that’s so sad that they feel like they are never good enough, striving for perfection.”

Something that I have found very interesting to ponder is: what do these women think of us? What do Islamic women think of American women and their constant striving to be thin, pretty, well dressed…all for the approval of others, especially men. Maybe, in reality, we are the ones that are looked upon with the thought “that’s so sad that they feel like they are never good enough, striving for perfection.”

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