There are a lot of really amazing, wonderful things to come out of veiling. I have talked to multiple women about the ways that it is grounding, emotionally healing, and calming (more on that later).
And it’s hot, uncomfortable, and makes you a visible target.
Let’s be honest with ourselves-part of the reason that those who are drawn to veiling do it is because of the sacrificial nature of the act. You are taking on a requirement that sets you apart from your peers-even peers in your own belief set. This is an act that requires long term commitment and a need for follow through.
I’m by no means suggesting not to veil. Most everything has a downside as well as benefits. Veiling also isn’t for everyone and there is certainly no shame in the attempt and decision that you are best serving deity in other ways.
These are the things that come up in conversation on wrapping groups, as well as things that have come up during direct conversation with people.
1. You need to invest in a collection
You need to have at least a couple basic wraps. You need to have wraps that account for the weather conditions that you are-you can choose to wear summer wraps all year round, but if you live in a place with extreme weather shifts (it was -4 F/-20 C here yesterday), you need to figure out how you’re going to handle that. On the other side, you need to figure out how to handle summer.
You need to have wraps that cover a wide range of situations-how are you going to handle work? Weddings? Funerals? Casual/distant guests in your house? Intimate guests in your house? Random people just showing up at the door? Running errands?
The longer you do this, the more you realize that you need more than a handful of wraps. There’s a lot of ways to get around this and it’s not one size fits all, but you need to keep in mind that you’re essentially building a wardrobe-for your head.
2. How do you feel about your hair?
Because you may be entering into a space where only the most intimate of social connections are going to see it.
I don’t have great hair, I never have. And after a lot of meditation I am comfortable showing my hair after full dark.
But don’t discount this as purely vanity. A lot of women’s self image and self worth is tied to their appearance, for better or worse. Taking away the hair can be a huge shift in how you see yourself-and what you even look like.
These are terrible photos but you get the general point:
Losing the frame of your hair quite literally changes the appearance of the structure of your face.
I’ve seen more than one freak out about this. It can take awhile to get used to this.
3. Let’s Talk About Summer
When you cover for deity dedication you do have a slightly wider range of freedoms than when wrapping for modesty plus dedication-I wrote about this a few weeks ago.
But one of the things that you have to keep in mind, as I touched on before is that if you’re agreeing to cover yourself every day-that means that you need to figure out how you’re going to handle extreme heat.
This gets unpleasant. There’s no good way to say it otherwise. You find ways around it but yes, you start thinking it’s cute how your unwrapped friends are talking about being -so hot- all the time.
4. Tichel Tantrums and other meltdowns
Some days it’s going to be a fight just to keep the silly thing tied. Some days you’re just going to want to run home and rip the *&^( thing off. Some days it’s going to fall apart on you in public. Sometimes it’s going to cause you headaches. You have to figure out what to do when your hair changes length; keep in mind that wrapping short hair is doable but how are you going to anchor it?
Nothing is going to cause you physical discomfort like a badly balanced wrap. Is your bun too tight?
How are you going to fly in your tichel? What are you going to do for exercise? Swimming?
5. Hair Care
You run the risk of trashing your hair.
The friction of your hair against the fabric might not do good things to it. My hair likes to insta-knot around the base of my bun. At the least you’re going to have constant hat hair.
There are ways to cutting down on this but if you’re big into your hair, take note that you might find yourself needing to adjust for it.
6. Other People’s Mouths
…Now for the big one.
‘What do you have on your head?’
‘But you’re so much prettier without it!’
‘[Insert Islamophobic statement of choice here]’
‘Did you shave your head?’
‘I think you just do this so you don’t have to shower.’
‘Well I’M not comfortable with. You make ME uncomfortable.’
‘Why do you need to be so different?’
‘Why can’t you just wear a wig, so you don’t stand out so much?’
(And my personal favorite) ‘Don’t you know that the veil is oppressive? Don’t do what they tell you do, do what I tell you to do and not wear something on your head!’
Okay, so I’m not playing fair with that last one but as a 3rd wave academic feminist that’s actually how I read that statement.
These are all things that I have either been asked, my sisters in veiling have been asked, or have been reported in the media.
And these are just the verbal comments. This is not accounting for the stares, the shifted body language, or the other social reactions. And terrifyingly this is not even beginning to touch the potential physical danger that a woman in hijab or other veil is subjected to in some locations.
Most people are loving and supportive.
Learn to be strong against the ones that aren’t.