Hijab Day provides female students a chance to try on a garment usually restricted to members of the Islamic faith.
Last Wednesday, Chateau Room C was filled with multi-colored scarves flying around being fixed to young ladies’ heads. SA partnered with the Malaysian Student Association and the Muslim Student Association to put on its annual Hijab Day celebration. About 50 students and faculty, muslim and otherwise, attended.
Muslim students Ayah Salem and Musamma Akhtar spoke about their daily life wearing a hijab and what it means to them. After their speeches, the two girls and a few others helped students and faculty put on a hijab, many for their first time.
This event was held approximately three weeks after the official World Hijab Day on February 1.
While there were lots of smiling and laughing, a bigger, more sombering theme was the clearing away of common misconceptions around the hijab.
Salem said, “It’s my body, my rules,” a sentiment shared by others in the community.
Akhtar explained the significance of when exactly she wears the hijab.
“The hijab is a more of a public statement, so it’s like at home you’re with your family and you don’t need to cover yourself with your family, because it’s your family,” she said.
The speakers also made it clear that it is not something to pity.
“It’s more of an empowering thing,” Salem stated.
When asked what the hijab exactly meant to her, Akhtar said, “The hijab personally means self-love. I wear it because I love to show that I am a Muslim, that I am proud that I am a Muslim.”
While the vast majority of the women in attendance had a hijab put on them by a fellow Muslim student, the crowd was split on whether they were going to keep it on for the rest of the day.
Morgan Mayberry, who tried wearing the hijab, was one of those that chose to not wear the hijab after the event. Part of that reason was because she realized the sentiment was not right.
“If I were to ever wear a headscarf, it would be more of a style thing, and I realize that’s not the heart behind why they are doing it,” Mayberry said.
Juddie Williams-Tomshany, an English Institute instructor with the International Student Services, decided to wear it all day in solidarity.
“I don’t remove it when I go to my office, and my Saudi students especially love it. It’s the one day when they’re like, ‘Oh, you look so beautiful,’” she said.
Overall, it was in agreement by those who ran and attended the event that it went well. Many learned things that broke their preconceived notions of the hijab and its wearers.
Mayberry said, “I didn’t know it was a choice, but my friend mentioned something that was very impactful — that her mom, even into her adult life, didn’t wear the hijab and was still a strong Muslim.”
The Muslim students also got a lot out of the program.
“It legit brings me joy having to wrap hijabs for strangers, beautiful people, and meet such kind-hearted people. It literally restores my faith in humanity, and it reminds me society isn’t that bad,” Akhtar said.