Reflecting on her own tough times, Dina Toki-O extols the virtues of treating yourself to occasional pampering sessions – and they’re not only for married women.
If you’re like me and adopted the hijab from a young age, then it’s possible that, at some point, you may have ‘let yourself go’ just a little – assuming, like me, that most don’t look past the hijab. It might have happened a little earlier than the ‘norm’ too – maybe a few decades too early! Not that one should ‘let themselves go’ at any point, of course.
I suspect that it’s a little harder for ladies in our situation to keep up with the prim and proper women of the world. I don’t know if my reasons are the same as everybody else’s. Still, by writing them here I hope to offer some comfort to my fellow hijabis out there.
The most obvious reason I let myself go is that I’m covered up, which means I feel I don’t need to worry quite as much. What is not on show doesn’t need attention, at least until I’m invited to the next all-ladies do. Women who don’t wear hijabs, on the other hand, don’t have this ‘luxury’ and thus may feel more pressure to preen.
Take hair, for instance. I, as well as many of my hijabi associates, get our hair cut or styled only about once a year, if that. One of the biggest culprits is the lack of choice for all-ladies hairdressers here in the UK. If you go mainstream then there’s the hassle of asking for private rooms, something that is bound to provoke confusion if not disdain. It’s exhausting and frustrating to explain half a dozen times why we can’t just have our hair done in the main section like everyone else.
I’ve met hijabis who gave up on their style as soon as they donned the garment. These women end up in a state of what I call ‘hijabi depression’, suddenly finding it difficult to shop for clothes. Often they blame it on nothing being hijab-friendly and end up wearing the same set of clothing every day.
I know all about this because I’ve been there. I went through it for three years – incidentally also my ‘fat’ years. And of course, I used both as a scapegoat for my horrific wardrobe choices. It’s a dangerous trap to fall into, because it sometimes – not always mind you, but sometimes, leads to outright hijab hate. Trust me on this; I speak from experience.
No doubt some of you are now saying ‘Nobody should get depressed about something as petty as their looks’, or, ‘It’s faith, not fashion’. That’s fair enough, but let’s be honest here: Muslim women of all stripes go through these ‘little’ problems daily. For some it takes over their lives. So yes, I think it’s important to talk about these issues, because if we don’t they can mount and turn us into a right old misery boot.
Anyway, a lot of us hijabis justify our lack of preening by saying we’ll catch up when we get married. Again, I speak from experience. Sometimes that’s a good thing. It means we don’t grow up too fast, which is a blessing – as anybody who’s seen 14-year-old girls who look 20 knows. That can’t be good for society, right?
At the same time, if we leave things too long, we’ll end up knowing nothing about fixing ourselves up or feeling good about ourselves. So I call on all of us to pamper ourselves once in a while, and – yes – even before marriage!
Go out and get your hair done every now and then. Ignore the remarks about it making no sense to do your hair since nobody sees it. You see it, every day. Are you a nobody? Trust me, it feels good when you wake up looking fresh for a change! It gives your self-esteem a boost.
When it comes to style, no one said you can’t look good while wearing the hijab. Of course, there’s a difference between looking good and looking sexy, but let’s not have that debate here. I believe it depends on the individual, where they’re going and what they’re doing.
Let me leave you with this thought instead: Would you rather look good and enjoy your hijab, or feel frumpy and hate it? For me the answer is obvious: I would rather look good and enjoy it. After all, when I’m happy I’m smiling, and smiling is sunnah!