Last month, I flew from Sana’a airport wearing a bright green scarf. On the plane I encountered the same awkward moment I always face: when and how do I take off my scarf? [In Yemen I cover my hair not because of any legal obligation, but because it is the custom].
I scanned the area and then I did what I usually do, waited until it naturally slipped off [sometimes I added by intentional head shaking] and then I kept it on my shoulder until I left the plane. After that, I folded the scarf and put it in my suitcase.
Some of my feminist friends say this is hypocritical and wish that I would just pick one way or the other. But as a feminist myself, I don’t see why I should only stick to one “look”. I think this flexibility is a testament to the degree that we, Middle Eastern women can adapt.
As long as I do not change who I am, and just change the way I look, then why does it matter whether I wear a scarf or I don’t. But the reality is, to many people it does matter. The scarf is not just any piece of cloth, it’s one that carries a statement, an identity, a heritage and a history.
Regardless of people’s perceptions, I want to say loudly and clearly that with or without it, I am still me.