Materialization of Liberation


Poem by guest writer Ubah.

Materialization of Liberation

Within every thread of the scarf I don on my head is woven the word ‘freedom’.

Everyday I deviate from societal standards by conforming to those of my Lord –

through this deviation, empowerment has been bestowed upon me – a blessing, minus the sword.

Society tells me that the exposure of my flesh will grant me an acceptance letter –

a congratulations! for embracing the norm.

I tell society:  if that were the case, then why is it that I have learned –

when I give you my flesh, it is not reward that I have earned?

For you examine it for the amount of melanin it contains,

its body mass index, the adipose tissue it has gained.

The amount of hair that has yet to be arranged and/or shaved,

the fingers that lay exposed, nail-beds unpaved.

The eyebrows – too unruly, too bushy, too united –

a chemical cocktail for those roots has yet to be indited.

I give you my flesh, but from you – what do I gain?

It’s time to conceal yourself in paint to recapture the essence of ‘au naturale’, babe!

First comes that face – that acne, black-head infested, uneven-toned face –

lay down the foundation in order to cover-up what doesn’t need to be erased.


Next, comes those eyes – it’s time to make them pop and look brighter, 

a cloak of shimmering dust, a wand to extend those lashes and voilà! – much more wider.


Oh goody! Now that you’ve tamed those valuable units of expression,

let’s fill them, darken them, and slick them down – suspended in a solution.


And let’s not forget those lips, all crackled and dry –

simply line and gloss them keeping two words in mind: ‘forever re-apply’.


And finally, that…hair?

Let’s tease, straighten, layer, curl, poof, constrain, dye, blow-out, pin-up, accessorize…and… there!


…but Society, once I did everything you dictated;

I was left feeling empty, unwanted, and frustrated.

I lived up to the standards that you created,

only to find my new clothes, hair, shoes, and makeup outdated.

Until I saw through the facade of the perfection you promised –

a lie so-often told, I mistook you for honest.

It was then that I realized my liberation would not come,

in accordance with your laws to which I had succumbed.

Instead it would require adhering to the laws of the One,

who prescribed a prescription that could never be outdone.

The key to acceptance was to first accept myself,

and to do so would mean to leave that product on the shelf.

And replace it with something much cheaper – and better for your skin, I might add:

A head-scarf; a piece of material folded, tucked, pinned and transformed into a hijab.

But to simply cover my hair and leave the rest of my flesh exposed,

would signify that you, Society, still pulled the ropes.

And so to complete the Commandment, over my body the fabric extended;

Neck, shoulders, arms, chest, hips, legs – all the places that YOU found offensive.

And with that, I achieved bodily autonomy in an instant.

The product of obeying my Lord has left my hair glowing;

My skin silky, my eyes bright – all without showing –

that which never belonged to you.

This material I wear is my empowerment, you see.

Because woven through every piece of this fabric is - Girl, you are FREE!


You can read more of  sister Ubah’s work at her blog: