How I learnt to view wearing my hijab as a shield, not a barrier

When I first began wearing my hijab, it was purely because that’s exactly what is expected when you reach a certain age in my culture.

I was definitely aware of the purpose of wearing the hijab but I was too young to understand that there were actual benefits of wearing one, as opposed to simply using it as an accessory.

I wore different turban styles and fits in line with all the trends whilst I was at high school. Often I colour-coordinated my headscarf with my outfit as a fashion statement. Sometimes I could see how proud all the adults around me were and it felt as if it automatically made me look like a great religious person, which just made me lap up all the attention all the more.

As I got older, I would see other girls showing off their silky long hair and luscious curls, which made me feel insecure and inadequate in comparison.

But despite this, I was adamant I would keep my headscarf on just to stick to my choice; I didn’t want to appear fickle simply because I wasn’t totally confident at this stage in my life. I grew older and people started asking me why I wore the hijab, and I was shocked at how I actually had no real answer to give. So I began reading into it and learning more about it for myself. Quickly, my hijab turned things around for me, I felt comfortable and completely confident wearing it. I began to have a closer relationship with God via my hijab and in turn, I started changing how I dressed to be as modest as I could.

Since my reason for wearing my hijab has transformed into something far more spiritual and meaningful, I have found so many opportunities by letting go of the mindset that my hijab makes me less sufficient to society.

I’ve learnt to accept that my hijab is by no means a barrier; it’s given me a voice. My confidence in both my physical appearance and mental mindset has reached new heights and I’m totally gratified with my decision. I know why I’m wearing the hijab, what it makes me feel and why this is a lifetime decision for me.

As terrifying as it is with the rising of Islamophobia, my hijab is my shield. I personally remind myself that this is my choice and I do it for God and only God. No amount of animosity could place fear in me because my hijab is not a barrier.

I have grown up with fear of what others think of me because of my hijab and growing out of that phase was the biggest step that I needed to take.

Being a young woman in society, and having the opportunity to share a story like this, makes me so proud of the woman I have become. I did not let my hijab stop me; instead, I have used it to break barriers and stereotypes because, hijab or not, we are all beautiful and our image cannot be tarnished.

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