Everyone who wears hijab has a story of how they came to do so, whether through long introspection and spiritual growth or whether they just decided one day to start covering their hair. My youngest sister Kooky has written about hers recently at her blog Harlequin Tea Set:
"My turning point came after three years at university, which made me feel a little disillusioned about being a young teenaged Muslim. It was easy to say that I was young, that there was plenty of time to enjoy myself; that I should look great, feel great, measure myself by how good-looking or girly other people thought I was. The feminist in me was fed up of it, and so was the Muslim. I’d been taught for years, that a precious thing like a woman should be covered, that if I wanted respect then I should stop looking for it with skinny jeans and fitted tops, and that perhaps I’d need a bit more than extravagant eyeliner.
By the time I had my 21st birthday, I’d made my mind up. I remember having a realisation that one could not tell I was a Muslim by looking at me – I could have been Sikh, Christian, Muslim or Hindu or Jedi and no one would be any wiser just from looking at me. I’d always meant to wear hijab, but now it was more than just covering my head – it was an act of symbolism for me. Sounds cheesy, but it really is genuine. Also, in my little Emo way, I was a little fed-up of the (what I saw as) hypocritical behaviour of my peers around me, and decided to act on my feelings. True, I did celebrate by having a massive fancy dress party in a hired penthouse in true-blowout style, but at least I can say that I ended my hair-years with a bang.
I did get a few negative comments here and there, and surprisingly they were from a few young Muslim girls and a couple of Muslim men. It was also strange that the non-Muslim friends understood why I wanted to wear hijab, and the idea of wanting to do something meaningful, as I’d expected a lot of questions from them. From the small group of Asian girls who were slightly disparaging (“But it looks ugly”, “But you don’t even NEED to”, and best of all the clichéd “So what, you’ve become religious now?’) I wasn’t put off, although slightly surprised. I assume their negativity was due to their own feelings of guilt or insecurity, or perhaps it was just something they didn’t understand."