Thursday, October 28, 2010

Awkward Moments Concerning Scarfs

This picture represents one of the most awkward and wierd (even humiliating) situations I've ever experienced. 

For many years, my favourite garment has been the scarf. I usually wear it wrapped around my head, partly or fully covering my hair. It has no religious significance for me and I only wear it because it's comfortable and nice. My favourite wrap is what I suppose is most common in Africa and I like it in strong colours matched with big ear rings.

On this occation, I was in a shopping mall in Dubai. UAE is a pretty conservative country, where most muslim women wear veils and cover most parts of their body. My head wrap had started to slide back, so I went to the ladie's room to tie it up. All was well until two typical Dubai women (who must have been sisters), dressed in long flowing black garments covering everything except their faces, entered the room and went to fix their veils on each side of me in front of the mirror. I gave them a greeting smile but got none in return, only a raised eyebrow.

Now, covering your hair is a norm for muslim women in Dubai, and fixing your veil once in a while is a necessity. But since covering your hair is considered a part of Islam, I suppose the two women thought I was a proper wierdo for first of all being an obvious westerner and second of all wearing a head wrap. The situation that arose is very hard to discribe, but the two women on either side of me were glancing at each other and at me, then back to each other and frowned. This lasted for a couple of minutes, but it felt like a forever. I was being looked down at and got the feeling that I, as a stupid westerner, had no right in wearing a scarf for whatever reason. It was all very very uncomfortable and I mustered all my strength to not give up my attempt with fixing the scarf and run out of the ladie's room - and so letting them win. I took my time, did my best to ignore their disparaging looks and then left the room calmly (I hope).

Afterwards I can see the comic parts of the situation and try to gather some kind of wisdom from it. It taught  me how important it is not to judge other people; not based on their looks, past or anything at all. Judging is not my task. It also taught me not to be affected by other people's judgement (although I still find that very hard). I did, after all, follow the clothing norm in Dubai. My hair was covered, although for different reasons than most other women in the city. It doesn't matter. No one should be looked down at based on their looks, where they come from or what language they speak.

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