Can I cover my head and have it mean nothing?

20Oct07

No, I can’t.

I read a wide variety of blogs, everything from liberal academics to conservative and not so conservative Catholics and Muslims blogging about life. Some of my favorites are actually Between Hope & Fear and Tradicionalista. (I also read Ali Eteraz, but Muse and Sacrosanct are female, and I want that perspective more.) Today, while I should be studying for my midterms, I’ve been reading Bloglines, and Sacrosanct posted a link to an article entitled “Unveiling the Veil.” And it makes me think of the discussion that’s been going on over at Et tu? on Jen’s comment about covering her head at church.

I find the inherently different views about veiling interesting. I’ve wanted to cover my head for a long time, and I honestly couldn’t tell you what the motivation was. I dress far more modestly than I did in college, but that still includes a tank top when the weather is right, but I won’t go into church with my shoulders or knees uncovered. Welcome to liberal Catholicism. Lots o people I know think the shoulders covered thing is really strange.

A large portion of wanting to cover my head is that it’s my hair damn it, and yes, there’s a pink streak, but it’s still my hair and I’d rather appreciate if everyone didn’t stare t it all the time. Go ahead and stare at the bright pink scarf I’m wearing instead. Part of it is that I’m not the most overtly feminine woman out there. I work in a bike shop, with a bunch of crude, mostly-agnostic-or-something-coworkers and sometimes I need to remember that I’m not them. And remind them that while I laugh at the jokes because sometimes they’re funny, and I’m generally not offended, I will not make any crude comments of my own.

The other part of me really wants to cover my head in church and sometimes out of church because it reminds me that I’m Catholic and I am different. I am called to be separate and yet in the world at the same time.

And I don’t care about what people think of how I look. My favorite pair of jeans until they ripped had patches sewn all over them, one leg had a phoenix drawn on, and the rest of both legs we covered in pacifist quotes. And I got lots of interesting comments on those pants.

I exist in a uniform of jeans and a t-shirt interspersed with sweaters, a hoodie and other weather appropriate things. I don’t strive to dress modestly, but I dress in a manner that doesn’t draw attention to me.

Even if I get another tattoo, its not like anyone but me and B will ever see it. I don’t show off my bear shoulders very much. Only at home and in the HEAT of summer. And still usually only around family.

There was a purpose at the beginning of the post. Oh yes. The article in Nirali Magazine. The resounding emphasis is that whether a woman chooses to wear a hijab or a burkah is fine, as long as it’s a personal choice. Its respected as a personal religious choice for most women in the US, and fairly common around here, if she chooses to wear a hijab. It is her choice as a Muslim woman.

Why can’t it be mine as a Christian woman to wear a veil or a scarf or whatever I choose to call it? Whether I cover my head at mass, or at other points should be only my choice, and have no bearing on everyone around me. There’s little chance anyone will think I’m anything other than what I really am.

There was a focus once, and its gone, and I’m ok with that. I’m sure this will evolve and should B ever go into politics, come to bite me in the a**. But so be it.

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8 Responses to “Can I cover my head and have it mean nothing?”

  1. I really admire how you are feeling. I know how it feels because I went through it before I wore the hijab. If people are allowed to go out half naked and they call it fashionable, why can’t we wear what we want? I think we can but we just have to get over worrying about what other people may think. Do only Nuns wear the scarf in Christianity or can non-Nuns wear it too? :D I remember reading a blog somewhere about a Christian woman who veiled, I really admired that.

    You might find these two posts I wrote interesting, it’s on The New Hijab, how the fashion industry is sexualising the hijab and turning it into something sexy and skimpy.

    Whatever your decision, I wish for you peace of mind and happiness :) I really love this post and will be bookmarking it on my facebook if you don’t mind.

  2. very good post
    you are not alone in the Christian ladies that have considered covering but many people see it as a “Muslim” thing when it’s not. I know a couple of Catholics that cover their hair full time.

    Whether I cover my head at mass, or at other points should be only my choice, and have no bearing on everyone around me.

    I think that point sums up many women’s frustration, Christian and Muslims.

    It’s kind of like a leave us alone kind of thing!!

  3. I just saw this, and I really appreciate reading about the issue from a different perspective. I must say its part of the reason why I continue wearing it – the desire to identify myself as Muslim. Though to be honest sometimes being “different” is quite a struggle; having one part of your identity front and center is not easy. But I admire your feelings, and I say whip out that scarf if thats what your heart tells you! :)

  4. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this, as well as the thoughts of your commentors. Thanks!

  5. 6 AmalYa

    Thanks so much for this. I too am struggling with the idea of covering my head. The basis of my struggle is that I am trying too much to please myself, and please others around me. I don’t want to stand out, and have attention called to me and hear comments like “If she is Christian, why is she covering her head?”

    I cover my head, because it reminds me that God is watching over me, loving me, and reminds me of my obedience to God’s love. As days go by, that grows stronger and stronger.

    Keep searching and posting!

  6. Wow! Someone who is thinking the same thing! I am just now going through the process of becoming Catholic. I love it! It has brought me so much closer to God, and the Holy Trinity. I would like to cover my hair too, but feel funny. I would like to do it to remind myself, I’m not there to look pretty for everyone, but to worship God. As a single woman, it is hard to not want to look around and see who might be available. Having my hair covered, along with the sides of my face, could help me focus on worshiping God too, and not getting distracted…just my thoughts…

  7. Excellent article! We will be linking to this particularly
    great content on our website. Keep up the good writing.


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