You don’t have to cake up on the makeup to prove you’re pretty, you don’t have to cover up to prove that you don’t care about the “beauty standards” set by “media colonization” (don’t let your inner conspiracy theory fanatic get too excited yet). I am a straightforward person and I am not sorry. Nevertheless, I am not aiming at paving the way for tens of raving commenters to start a war on hijab nor bombard the concept of “beauty standards” here, I had my share of both. The keywords that I am trying to highlight are “have to” and “beauty”, I believe that some grammar Nazi should ban them from existing together in the same sentence anyway. What you’re gonna read isn’t a self biography nor a self projection, what I am hoping for you to leave this piece of rambling with is your own notion of beauty unlimited by any culturally, religiously or commercially cultivated convictions; beauty as is, to YOU.
First things first, when I said I had my share of both, I meant it. I was veiled for almost 12 years, I lost count. I was all covered up, inside out, except for my hands and oval of a face. No, I wasn’t feeling like a jewel waiting to be unwrapped, “hidden until-an equally religious-prince charming finds me”; although that sounds very poetic and luring, but just no. It’s more like shopping was a round of torture for me, I wasn’t even comfortable in my own skin leave alone layering sheets of clothes on it. So to all of the conservatives pro-hijab out there, I’m not sorry to break it to you: I was taught religion since I was 5, I got my ethics from there, I appreciate the very essence of any uncorrupted/politicized religion, but I didn’t feel for a second that hijab protects my beauty or highlights it.
September 2015, I took my veil off and walked out of my place to many’s surprise, looks full of anguish or simple un-recognition; I honestly cherished the latter. I could wear what I wanted, put on a 100 shade of makeup whenever I pleased. I could kiss, hug and dance and get lost if I desired to. Pick the shortest shorts and skirts that you can find and I would have wore them if I fancied. However, breaking it to the cheerleaders at other end of the same argument here, I didn’t embrace the Disney princess inside me that possessed an unequal beauty and lives the life happily ever after. My perception only changed when I looked at myself in the mirror more frequently- than few times a year- and contemplated. I observed my flows and called a truce with them. I marveled at the features that make me different and welcomed them in. I smiled, frowned, stared, gazed, whispered, cried, thought out loud, murmured and basically ran my face in a demo mode as if I am testing my limits.
There’s no need for fancy terms that would “intellectually impress a reader” to put my notion of beauty into words: I appreciate wind tickling my hair – ehm not sorry, again, for the cliche term- WHILE existing next to other males (homosapiens of an opposite sex to females, still homosapiens), in PUBLIC. I feel pretty when I am just dressed casually and I hang-out with friends without worrying about what part of my arms or ankles is showing. I feel very powerful when I raise my voice when needed without worrying about whether it’s not feminine as per social norms. I feel very feminine when I let my skin and hair just be without layers of concealers and dyes on regular basis. I feel perfectly beautiful when I look in the mirror and smile because I am proud of the spunky and comely person I see. Only then do I find myself able to fall in love with people recognizing me from the tiniest details that combine to make the skeleton, flesh and skin I live in more like me than anyone else to others.
Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself as is, love it to bits and pieces: the freckles, the not even close-to-perfect curves, the lips that aren’t so plump, the frizzy hair that never gives you a break, the body height that’s not as model-like as it can be, the eye color you share with 90% of the population…etc. The list goes on, you probably have one of your own. Sometimes I just wish that Einstein could have saved some of his valuable time to apply his concept of relativity on the definition of beauty. A definition “independent of the observer “ and “constant in radiance”, maybe people would have cut the crap and appreciate the true definition of this over used and exploited term.
I only felt beautiful when I stripped- hold a second, don’t take it literally- how I feel about myself from the different noises of judging, gossiping and pointing fingers at me. That was when I ousted the society and its lame convictions from their power to influence how I perceive pretty. “Having to” do something out of a must is a burden that eats one out casting away joy and self acceptance. “Wanting to” be and “being” remains the only way to freely express oneself and reflect its gorgeousness.
Whether you want to put a vail on or not, “The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” Trust Audrey Hepburn on this, a demon of seduction to many conservatives may as well be your savior in your self-love/hate affair. There’s no coercion in religion, that leaves no flecks to be given about society, so you have no excuse.
If you can’t be your own best friend and admire how beautiful you are in your own unique irreplicable way, then seriously who the heck are you expecting to do so?