An Upside-down World


Guest writer Miss K details how wearing the hijab has in fact changed her worldview.

I never thought I would take the word “unattractive” as a compliment. The concept of hijab has changed the way I view myself and the world around me.

Before I started wearing the veil, I remember being a great fan of “America’s Next Top Model”, a popular TV show. I learned to match colors when wearing an outfit, to walk like a model, and I also learned how to “smile with my eyes.” I could easily relate to the candidates because, as a student in Marketing, I understood that models usually pose for the purpose of advertising a product; they are somewhat  like marketing agents, learning to sell themselves to fashion designers and other companies.

One particular episode, however, changed my perspective. The contestants were getting dressed for a photo-shoot and one of the models did not like the clothes she was required to wear.  It did not match her personal style. As a result, her photo-shoot was a disaster and she was blamed by the jury. “You are a model; your opinion does not matter. Your job is to wear the outfit and pose.”  I was shocked. Was that the price of fame and beauty? Posing for people who do not really care about your level of education, your personality, or your opinion?

I promised myself I would not abide by those standards anymore.  I remember being very uncomfortable when going out without make-up and feeling less fashionable with loose clothing. I, who used to wake up early to choose a perfect dress for a perfect day, making sure I looked nice for the people. As time went by though, I realized that I was drawing unwanted attention from the opposite gender.

I progressively became annoyed when being complimented for superficial things. I realized that there was more to me than my body measurements. I wanted to express myself in a different way; I wanted to be recognized for my love for writing, gardening, graphic design, and my interest in French literature, Asian culture and international cuisine. Most importantly, I wanted to be known for who I truly was: a Muslim woman.

Wearing the veil has taught me a different conception of beauty. I grew up believing that beauty should be displayed to the world. Overtime I learned that Muslim women cover for protection just like pearls are hidden in shells because they are precious, not hideous. It is just a matter of perspective.

Since then I started to live in a world which may appear upside-down to many. The longer my veil, the more protected and beautiful I feel. I beautify myself at home for myself, for the people who
matter such as my parents and my friends in an “all females” gathering. I still love fashion, but only when it goes hand in hand with my beliefs. Quite frankly, I would not mind being labeled as “unattractive” because that is exactly the purpose of hijab: to ‘not attract.’

People have different views on the veil. For me, hijab is a different definition of beauty, a different way to view the world.

The Messenger of Allah (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said in an authentc hadith, “Whosoever leaves something for the sake of Allah then Allah, the Mighty and Magnificent, will replace it with something better than it.”  [Ahmad]

I thank Allah the Almighty for guiding me, and blessing me with a better lifestyle. Now I value myself and others more; when I interact with people, the most important thing for me is their inner beauty rather than their race, nationality, or physical appearances. After donning the hijab, I received the gift of becoming a better servant and a better human being, alhamdulillah.