What do you see when you look at me?
Was this my decision? Is it really me?
Do you see me as a symbol of oppression or tyrant rule?
Do you pity me and see my hijab as cruel?
“Was she forced? Does she have a choice?”
You wonder and decide to give me a voice.
You rally the streets and hold up a sign,
Comforting me, telling me it’ll all be fine.
You speak of injustice and rights for all,
Yet this entire time, this wasn’t my call.
Because when I look in the mirror, I see
A young, independent woman,
From the standards set by society. Bound—
By more than just fashionable popularity.
I am something greater than you or me.
I am a symbol of true freedom and equality.
You think I am strange and oppressed, Yet you can’t look past the way I am dressed.
My values and morals encapsulated by this ‘headgear’, is a piece of cloth you seem to so blindly fear.
Try to understand and see
What my hijab means to me.
Before you defend my supposed rights
And attack my identity,
Remember that this is my choice.
Remember. I am free.
The inspiration behind Choice. was the recurrent theme of prominent political groups and figures labelling the hijab as oppressive and prescribing that to ban the hijab would be a step forward in humanity’s freedom. As a young Muslim hijabi, these statements and ideas le me speechless. The irony was, I was never given the agency to have a speech to begin with. Choice. is my speech.
Originally printed in Podium Magazine Edition 2, published in 2017.