Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's a Zoo Out There!

Me and my husband took our kids to the zoo for the first time. I hadn't been to the zoo in over a decade. So, I wore black socks, black flat shoes, dark gray cargo pants, a pink short sleeve t-shirt with white arm sleeve covers, and a long gray and black striped scarf with dull silver sequins on it. I put the scarf on my head and then wrapped on end of it around my neck and over my shoulder. I was all covered.

And it was HOT. Seriously--you can feel the sweat pool on your skin--humid HOT, everyone else is wearing shorts and tank-tops---HOT. But we wanted the kids to see the zoo and this was our last chance before Summer got even hotter.

So as we get into the zoo, I notice a group of hijabis. It was several mothers with their young kids in strollers and younger teen girls. The mothers were wearing the scarf pinned under the chin with long abaya jackets. A few of the teen girls were wearing a headscarf, jeans, and short-sleeve shirts--arms exposed. Anyway, I was happy to see so many hijabis and thought--the zoo is the place for hijabis to be, huh? It's hijabi-polooza! I looked over, smiling at them.

Then, my husband said to me: "YOURS is falling off," and I knew he was referring to my scarf so I thought it had come off of my head, "OH!" I said. But then I touched the top of my head and only about 2 inches of my hair on the top of my head were showing. "It's not falling off! It's only a little showing," I said to him as I fixed it to cover the hair.

Then a bit later, I was standing on the side, him in front of me, and I took the long part off of my shoulder to adjust it again, probably exposing a bit of my neck. My husband sort of gave me this look, and I snapped, "Why are you being so uptight about my hijab? I wore it like this on purpose so I could get some air sometimes." He said something like, "I know, okay, it's..."

So from then on I started feeling like I was not as "hijabified," as those abaya-headscarved-pinned hijabis. I thought maybe my husband wished I was more like them. I know he is the type that does something all the way, perfectly--but I'M the one wearing the headscarf--what's it to him if I don't wear it a certain way? Hmm. Does he think I don't know that my way is less perfect, less strict, less...? He must know that. I know that, but I still want to wear it the way I want to. Hmm.

Then later we saw another group of abaya-scarf hijabis and then later several headscarf-short-sleeve hijabis (I don't know if it was the same group as before).

And I also noticed A LOT of people giving me long glances. "Why are so many people staring at me? I don't look that weird," I said to my husband. It was mostly younger kids staring, and a few adults. Hmm. Maybe there's something about the zoo that makes people stare. Maybe all that staring at animals makes them stare at people too. Maybe they thought I was a celebrity under my sleek scarf and sunglasses (not...LOL).

Anyway, the whole time, as I was dying from the heat, I was feeling resentful that I had to be so covered up. I wished I could feel a breeze on my neck...the arm sleeve covers were annoying me too. I envied all the people who could dress for the weather. Sometimes I wondered if they were REALLY all that much cooler than me, I mean, they appeared to be hot too--maybe being covered up from head to toe in the open heat doesn't make one hotter--maybe a scarf keeps you cooler? Hmm. No, I doubt it, I finally decided.

But it was still fun. I enjoyed the zoo experience. I didn't want to leave even. But my hubby was tired from pushing around our crazy-monster-size double stroller (it was also stroller-palooza at the zoo), and he was hot as well. He was wearing athletic shoes and socks, cargo pants and a long-sleeved cotton dress shirt. He usually covers up his legs and arms when we go out too. He doesn't wear shorts or short-sleeves, even though Islamically he could. He says it's because he wants to support me and how can he expect me to cover up if he doesn't cover up as much as possible too? That's sweet I know. (But he also has a tattoo on his arm from before he converted to Islam which he hides with the long sleeves too because he's embarrassed by it). But at one point he got so hot that he rolled up his sleeves. Lucky him, I thought.

So I was complaining to him and feeling sorry for my covered-up self, yes. Hmm. I know I need to work on ignoring my ego. That voice inside that says: This Sucks For You. Can't You Make It Any Better For YOU. YOU. ME. ME. ME. If only I could focus on something else...

like...I am a Muslim woman and Islam tells me to wear it! I have to. GOD wants me to be covered up from head to toe when I go out. Really! It's important. There's no gray area here. Accept it and move on YOU.


I'll try that next time.


Carrotflowers said...

I just had to chime in here. :) I completely hear you- sometimes I look at women (mostly Muslim women, but Indian women who wear shalwar kameez too I suppose) who are more covered up than I am in the August heat, and I have to balance my guilt with stifling my ego. On the flip side, I did pass a couple of girls in shorts and bikini tops complaining about the heat... if we're all going to be burning up, then why not honor ourselves and wear something modest? I personally think that the details don't matter--- an inch of hair, half a forearm exposed... modesty comes from the inside, and from Tehran to Los Angeles we all have to find our own form within ourselves. On the other hand... KUDOS to your husband for his long-sleeved solidarity. I'm telling mine about this. =D

Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikom,
My standard summer fare includes loose linen tunics and light cotton or linen skirts. I wear those unfashionable cotton triangle scarves (you can tinker with the styling of it so it doesn't look like a siti scarf.) I can't be bothered with under scarves and polyester when it gets hot.

My friend swears by al-amira scarves in the summer. She periodically soaks them in cold water when she's out all day.

Anyway... I don't mind the long clothes, it's the scarf that makes me hot.

I see women wearing jilbabs and abayas (with pants poking out underneath) in the worst heat and humidity, and they aren't sweating and they look entirely composed and lovely. I think they have internal a/c. LOL

siouxsie said...

i can totally relate to what you have just written, i went to an outing a couple of months ago and it was hot and me and my kids were the only people covered and we got stares and i was feeling so hot, i took my long hijab off but i had a wrap on underneath, so no hair was showing, when i looked at the pictures later i wish i had kept my longer hijab on as i looked a bit odd with the wrap, i just find hard anyway, but like i said can totally relate to you

LisaM said...

I like this blog!! I can relate to this particular story a bit myself, being a modest dressing and headcovering Christian woman. But it's not so hot, really - I like that first comment up there about the shorts girls who STILL complain about the heat. Oh, and I know it's not the best representation, but I so enjoy the Canadian show "Little Mosque on the Prairie" - do you? Modest and religious women actually have more in common than most people think.

Scarf Ace said...

thank you all. i love your comments.

Anonymous said...


It's lovely that your husband makes an effort to support by also wearing long-sleeved tops and long trousers.

I pray that you are healthy and happy.

Scarf Ace said...

thank you biblio...

Aisha La Estudiante said...

When it's hot, we're all just plain hot. People always ask... "Aren't you hot in all that."
One of my favorite answers is, "yes,aren't you? It's 98 degrees. Plus baggy skirts and scarves are best, it's like walking around in the shade, and you get a good breeze."
It's all about loose, breathable and light fabrics.
Good luck, and really, if you have bangs out, short sleeves, or whatever... it's your intention that really matters (well, that's my opinion).

Believer said...

The way you are complaining seems like somebody forced you to do hijab.
It is simply about how you look at it. If you are ready to bear the difficulties that come with it then it will be easier for you to continue on this path.
Maybe reading a book or to on the topic will help you understand and deal with it instead of envying others.

Scarf Ace said...

Hi "Believer," I just love it when people tell me to go read a book, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy just like a true "believer" should. I wonder which FB friend or friend of a friend you are...Thanks for the non-encouragement--and for not reading the entire blog to understand how it is I came to wear the scarf again.