The #1 source for fashion inspiration from real people around the world.
As an Iranian-Muslim woman living in the United States, I can’t say that feeling like an outsider is a new or foreign experience for me. While I was born and raised in Oklahoma, USA, my ethnic background, liberal views, and especially my way of dress made me feel very out of place in an otherwise religiously and ethnically homogenous state. In 6th grade, I excitedly chose to wear the Hjiab, or headcovering, as most Muslim girls of age chose to do. But upon entering the halls of my new middle school with my hair covered for the first time, my excitement was quickly annihilated by a sea of harsh criticism, racist remarks, and bitter stares and glares from my fellow classmates. I was the only one in my public school who wore the Hijab, and for many of the students, I was the only Muslim they have seen and will ever see. Because of the way I dressed, my classmates’ reactions to me—fueled by my constant misrepresentation in mainstream media—caused me to feel foreign and out of place in the place I referred to as home.
Initially, this intense identity crisis did not go well for ten-year-old Hoda; I felt confused, angry, and emotionally helpless. At home, I found comfort in my family but back at school I was ostracized and completely alone. I struggled with my identity and felt insecure about who I was and what I believed in. I felt a lot of pressure to dress, as my classmates would tell me, “like an American” and leave behind my Iranian and Muslim identity. While Oklahoma cannot be considered a “new” environment for me, the experience of wrestling with my identity and feeling like a foreigner in my own home was definitely not something that had ever experienced before.
Although it was a tough and challenging situation for me, I learned a lot about myself and grew tremendously. After much reflection, I learned that I would have to stand up for myself and not let others’ hateful words define me or control my emotions. You have to take charge of your situation and remain true to yourself and your identity, even if it means going against social standards. Although struggling with my identity at such a young age was not an easy task, it really has molded who I am today and how I face new and challenging situations. The perspicacity I gained from this experience continues to define who I am and has changed my perspective when faced with a daunting challenge. While I would not wish what I went through upon anyone else, in hindsight I’m glad I did go through it—I am now extremely comfortable in my own skin and believe in myself, regardless of the difficulty of the new situation. Instead of running away you should welcome change with open arms and thrive in new environments; you can really learn a lot from uncomfortable or new experiences, as they are important in personal and intellectual development. Life is a beautiful thing and you can't let others take away from it.
stand up for your rights.
don't give up the fight."
P.S. Recently I also wrote a post on why I wear the Hijab and you can read about that here: joojoo-blog.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-veilunveiled-why-i-choose-to-cover.html
I am a fashion and social activist blogger at JooJoo Azad (meaning "Free Bird" in Farsi!)