The Hijab Challenge
By: Sehreen Ali
A couple of years ago I had an interesting experience as I started wearing the hijab. It raised a lot of questions, especially among the people I work with. A lot of my colleagues are men, and they used to joke around with me before I started wearing it and just treated me as one of the team. But as soon as I wore my scarf, things became a bit strange and people didn't know how to respond to me.
Once I explained why, and my reasons though, I found people were ok. I think the problem is that a lot of people stereotype women who wear a scarf as being repressed. I think that was what happened, but British Asian women are very independent and if they do choose religion it's not because they are forced to but because they want to.
I started wearing it after I had been through a bad time, a friend of mine died, and my uncle as well, both at the same time. The only way I got through that time in my life was through my religion. That's what led me to take the step to wear a scarf.
When I started wearing the hijab, I felt very conscious at first, but I didn't let it get to me and in the end I started to feel more confident, I had done something for myself and for my religion - it was empowering.