Monday, February 1, 2016

What I Learned Participating In World Hijab Day For The First Time

I am not a Muslim woman, but today, February 1st , for the first time, I wore a hijab. 

I participated in World Hijab Day, to support the world's women that have decided to wear one. 

What would I learn wearing a headscarf in public? Would people's reactions to me be different?
The hijab head covering has always seemed beautifully feminine and dignified to me. To do things properly, I wanted to know how to wear it. From internet research, I learned there are many options. The important thing is to cover the whole head with the scarf, leaving only the face visible. 
American woman in a hijab for World Hijab Day
Me In My Hijab

As I went about my day's errands, I was particularly interested in people's reactions, their verbal and nonverbal responses. If I smiled, most people eagerly smiled back. Otherwise, reactions seemed usual. Having occasionally worn SCA reenactment clothing in public  and gotten comments, I expected to feel more response.
I noticed two contrasting reactions. I respect the Muslim faith, but not living with it I forgot the Muslim food preparation code. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich at my regular Smashburger. The new young man taking my order nicely reviewed all my sandwich's ingredients. Asking me if I was okay with them. That taught me two things. I had worn the hijab convincingly. I needed to review the Muslim diet before next year. I intend to do this with respect. 

The last place I went was my new bookstore hangout, having lost my longtime favorite, as I previously posted. When I ordered my usual coffee and cookie, the barista recognized me. I gave her kudos for doing so. It's possible my order and phone number reminded her. Even so, she did not appear to reflect on my head scarf or comment on the change. 

I firmly believe people of all faiths are good, although each faith has misguided people. We must each take steps to understand each other better. 

Participation in World Hijab Day is a small step I took with women around the world to build a more cohesive future.