I haven’t always had this problem. It is fairly recent and despite attempts to avoid, prevent and control my irritation, it persists.

My issue is not dermatological. It is propagated heavily online and is from within my own community and it pretty well drives me batty every February 1st. It is the annual practice/celebration of World Hijab Day.

I have written (read: ranted) about World Hijab Day before. My sentiments remain exactly the same years later. But just for kicks and giggles, let me hash it out for you.

Summarily, this is an event that extends an invitation to non-Muslim women to “experience” hijab and all that comes with it. For one day. Only.

Not February 2nd or 3rd- but February 1st is the movement day. So if you leave your pashmina at home…TOO DAMN BAD. No solidarity for you.

I am anti-World Hijab Day because the day is UNBELIEVABLY exclusionary (only a small percentage of the world’s Muslim women actually wear hijab). So for women that don’t cover, but are Muslim – well, their opinions are dismissed by the very connotation World Hijab Day brings, and they are, in essence, not considered part of the Muslim community or story. I dislike World Hijab Day further, because it creates a narrative that hijab is a dress-up experience when in actuality, wearing hijab is a very spiritual decision, extending far more than a simple cloth.

I am skeptical because World Hijab Day does not reflect the struggles women have with patriarchal interpretations of hijab (mandatory covering is a reality in some Muslim-majority countries), where some Muslimahs struggle because their covering was not a choice.

Conversely, in France, fully covering is illegal.

So, adopting a certain style of headscarf for a day does not represent the struggles or even suggest any type of solidarity with women and girls who actually DO cover. It does not help student athletes participate in sports, or protect women from being attacked or their unborn babies killed, in fact, it does not mobilize anyone at all in any meaningful way. I have gifted hijabs to my non-Muslim friends at various times, but never inferred to them that by wearing it any particular style, would they even begin to comprehend what the experience of wearing hijab is really like. That’s disingenuous and it is untrue.

What I am, a proud and feisty hijabi, can not be fully realized by anyone’s 6 hour adventure.

But if non-Muslim women insist on covering themselves anyway, I might offer one of my favourite covering outfits as a suggestion:

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  • Shireen Ahmed is a writer and advocate focusing on Muslim women in Sports. She is an athlete, community organizer, and works with Youth of Colour on empowerment projects and is an avid sports coach and mentor. She is a regular contributor to Muslimah Media Watch, a Global Sports Correspondent for Safe World For Women and works on the Muslim Women in Sports website. Her work has been featured and discussed in Racialicious, Policy Mic, The Globe and Mail, Jezebel, NoVICE Sports, Islamic Monthly, Soccer Politics/ The Politics of Football, A Football Report, Huffington Post, Football Beyond Borders, International Museum of Women, Best Health Magazine, Aquila Style, Muslim Voices, Women Talk Sports, Footynions and Edge of Sports Radio. Shireen’s blog “Tales from a Hijabi Footballer”, where her passion for sport, politics and women’s issues collide, has been recognized by Sports Media for its candid discussions. She drinks a lot of coffee. Shireen lives in Toronto, Canada with her family.