For Muslims in America, particularly women, stereotypes and stigmas are showing themselves in ugly ways. Many women following Islam choose to wear a hijab, a scarf covering their head and neck. The important thing to know is that this is a choice – especially here in America. The choice to be modest, and lead people to judge them for their abilities and intellect more than for their looks.
There are still those people, unfortunately, who discriminate based on things like what someone wears on their head. Coming from the Mid-Ohio Valley, known for being one of the least diverse areas in the United States, it is important to allow people to ask questions and be curious about something they are not familiar with.
February 1, 2013 marked the first World Hijab Day. In the wake of a generation that is greatly marked by Islamic stereotypes and misconepetions, hijabi New Yorker Nazma Khan created the observance. Nazma relocated from Bangladesh to the United States as an 11-year-old. She was the only one wearing a hijab. She pulled on her experiences of discrimination to create a positive social change all across the world.
Marietta’s World Hijab Day event was intended to open up lines of communications and allow people a safe space to find more information. Besides the day of the event itself, the weeks leading up to it provided people with resources and facts on hijabi women and the custom of wearing the garment.
Silver Linings and Lauren Elaine Makeup, both located in Marietta, hosted the actual event which invited women to come in and be styled in the hijab. They were able to see the garment on a familiar face – their own.
Articles posted, conversations started and questions answered all led to more understanding, but best of all, it showed the open-mindedness of the community. There was still plenty of skepticism and conflicting opinions, but there was civility in disagreement, and a willingness to listen to the other side.
The event has a goal of creating positive conversation about the topic, and the certainly happened in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Our news and social media are flooded daily with hatred and violence, and some way to blame one group or another. Skin color, languages spoken, heritage, clothing, all of these things determine how people are treated. But little by little, the more people try to understand one another, the better our world becomes.