The Hijab Challenge
What would happen if I was dressed like this the next time you saw me?
Isn't that an interesting question?
One afternoon last fall, I was walking to a talk that was being given at the Henry Madden Library on campus. For once, I was early, so with about 10 minutes to kill, I noticed a booth set up in the Free Speech area (a central quad filled with booths for student organizations and where a lot of activity occurs each day) where women were being fitted in hijabs. Intrigued, I walked over, and read about "The Hijab Challenge," an opportunity to wear a hijab for a day, then share your experiences with a photographer named James Ramirez, and have a portrait taken. Some portraits will be included in a photo exhibit that Ramirez, currently a Fresno State student, will have on campus next year.
So I took the challenge.
I didn't have much time to think about it. I just did it.
In those brief moments before I was covered, I mainly wondered what strangers would think when they saw me. How would they react?
What I hadn't had time to consider was
how people who already knew me
Strangers were the most comfortable.
Good friends were intrigued, and immediately asked what was up.
It was the reaction of acquaintances that was the most surprising. Double-takes before turning away. Uncomfortable side-glances. Recognition? Yes, I think so. But an interesting experiment in what happens when you're not who people thought you were...even for just a few hours.