Much more than I was expecting

Samantha Kelly, BC Student

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I was intrigued when I saw the ladies of the Muslim Student Association at a booth applying henna and informing students about their traditional headscarf, the hijab.

Noticing my curiosity, I was greeted by the friendly faces of the MSA. They told me about the henna and asked if I was interested in wearing a hijab around for a day.

I was elated. I have been interested in the head covering for a while now. After I had my daughter, I noticed that walking around Walmart grocery shopping was not the same.

The gawking, stares, and unwanted interest by males became irritating. Sometimes dodging eye contact with the creepy guy in the isle gets old. I had often mused if a headscarf could be the answer to my problem. This was my chance!

The women were interested in asking ladies to try wearing the hijab around for a day and hearing about the experiences. I was definitely game. They wrapped the scarf and pinned it in place.

As I had the henna done, I thought about how I was feeling. “I feel like a lady,” was the first thing I had said. I had a new feeling of purpose, sophistication, and femininity.

I left and promised I would return with the scarf and my thoughts. Walking across campus my stroll was peaceful. Guys passed with neutrality. I didn’t feel eyes following me or have to lower my gaze while passing. I felt so relaxed.

Whatever natural self-consciousness I harbored melted away. I felt free. Men looked with respect, and women with friendly curiosity. It was everything I was dreaming of.

I made a point of picking my daughter up before I returned the scarf. When we arrived at the booth, a woman was putting henna on her daughter. While I talked about my experience, she asked if my daughter would like to have a design done. I was so grateful and happy to give my daughter that new experience. Talking to the other women was so easy.

I felt like the hijab helped us all connect with open faces and open hearts. We talked about children, and I offered to write about my experience.

It was as if covering our heads and presenting our faces eliminated differences and helped accentuate our common bond as women.

This idea of sharing the hijab experience with other women has touched me deeply. Actively and compassionately encouraging someone to truly walk in your shoes changes lives and attitudes.

I would never have been able to truly understand the beauty of the hijab without this experience. Nor would I have ever experienced it without the encouragement of my fellow Muslim students. Covering up helped me find my true beauty, the intentions in my heart and soul.


Samantha Kelly

BC food science major

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