A few years ago, back when I used to have time for reading, I indulged in a novel called “Does my head look big in this?” The novel follows the story of a Muslim Palestinian teenager in Canada who decides to wear a hijab. Throughout the plot, the girl is alienated and discriminated against especially at school. I never imagined that my daughter would face the same kind of hate at school in Egypt.
My 16-year-old girl decided to wear a hijab and it was completely her choice without any influence or enforcement from me or her father. On the contrary, we advised her to give it a second thought. We believed that she was still young and might change her mind after a while; however, she insisted.
She goes to one of the top international schools in Egypt. We chose that school for its high academic level and the opportunities it presents students. But schools are not just education, it’s a whole community that you have to live with. The problem facing many parents nowadays, like myself, is that they want their children to have a good education, but not get affected by the different backgrounds in the community that has become too westernized, mainly appearances-wise.
My daughter is having a hard time at school and even during the time she spends with her school friends when they go out. She is the only veiled girl in her group. She is not discriminated against or bullied at school; however, some of her friends try to convince her that the hijab is out of style and it will limit her fun and social activities.
Although she didn’t raise the topic with me, I started to feel that she is insecure about her hijab and reconsidering the decision. By default, the hijab hinders her from following many hair and fashion trends. I think the problem will worsen during the summer where she meets her friends at the North Coast. What if they go to beaches that ban burkinis?
I’m really worried about her and don’t know what to do. She’s at an age that triggers a lot of confusion about body shapes, acceptance, self-love, and relationships. I don’t know how to guide her. Regardless of the religious aspect of the hijab, she made a decision based on her beliefs and did not harm anyone.
I believe I should encourage her to choose what she wants regardless of what others think. I shouldn’t push her to follow the herd just to fit in. She has to feel the pride of wearing a hijab and to know that this confidence is what would make others accept her. I’m concerned that this would affect her self-esteem. I already have doubts about choosing this school for her.
It’s very difficult to be yourself no matter what. Honestly, this is a test for me, not my daughter. I’m not sure it’s a test I can pass.
Egyptian Moms Confess is our latest series of articles where Egyptian moms confess their innermost, darkest, and rawest emotions that they experience during motherhood. Always remember that the perfect mom does not exist. We are all trying our best. Each mother is fighting her own demons.
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- I lied about my marital status on my child’s school application