Hijab for a Day, the Alabama Way

Today is World Hijab Day so as a sign of solidarity, I wore hijab. I occasionally cover my head either for fashion or for protection as I am very fair and prone to sunburn. I shaved my head last February to raise funds for St. Baldrick’s and wore bandannas and scarves throughout the summer, sometimes wrapping like a tichel, sometimes just winging it. Wearing hijab wasn’t too far a stretch from what I’ve been doing so I decided, why not? I’ve been protesting our country’s despicable mistreatment of refugees and immigrants ever since Donald Trump was a candidate.

I live in Alabama. That could mean that I’d get a lot of flack for it, even as a white woman. However, my city (Birmingham) just declared itself as a Sanctuary City so while Alabama is seen as backwards and racially divided and divisive (and is, in many ways and parts), Birmingham itself is a bit more progressive and dare I say it: a little blue dot in a giant sea of red. Still, I was a little nervous as I went out to run my errands, which included a visit to *gulp* Walmart.

Now, I’m used to being stared at. Before I shaved my head, my hair was blue, aqua, purple, and down to my waist. Then with a shaved head tucked under a hat or bandanna or scarf – people often thought I was a cancer patient and I had to correct that misperception. I did get some looks, a couple of turned heads but no problems. No one said anything TO me but one woman decided to take her child and their food home from McDonald’s rather than eat it there after taking a good long look at me.

So that was my experience with hijab for a day. I may do it again, depending on the weather and my clothes. I overheat too quickly and can’t imagine a sweaty sticky hijab is attractive on anyone.

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