When I began wearing hijab, I was 10 years old. I wanted to emulate my older sister and mother because, at the time, didn’t want to be the odd one out. I didn’t realize how hijab would change me. I thought this decision I made was one that should have garnered a lot of respect in the community, but I was surprised by the subtle backlash my parents faced over “forcing us” to wear hijab. Even people I’d grown up with began to see us differently.
Sometimes I wish that I had waited a little longer to wear hijab, until I understood and appreciated what it meant before it was a part of my life. However, as most people will agree, life happens the way it does for a reason. My choice shaped me into the person I am today: feeling ostracized within American society and Bangladeshi society taught me compassion. After feeling as though I didn’t belong anywhere, I learned to make my own space, and it became a haven for many people. In the absence left by some, others came to take their place. I found friends, Muslim and non-Muslim, who became family and enrich my life. My compassion helped me understand that many people feel as though they exist only in the outskirts of society, perhaps due to their ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, as well as faith. What began as compassion transformed into a need for justice and change.
The fashion industry has made remarkable strides in accepting all types of beauty, but regarding the inclusion of hijabis, it is still lacking. When I looked for inspiration from other hijabis, I found thin, light-skinned women wearing nude or pastel palettes. I love bold, bright colors and ambitious patterns. Moreover, my body is not thin and my complexion darker than most, which I’ve come to love, and I don’t feel that my fashion choices must be compromised by either. (Read more in comments)