As a woman who wears the niqab (face veil), I find that some people take it as a license to say whatever they want.
People can get kind of weird about it sometimes. On one hand, I get it – really, I do. On the other hand, it irritates me that people can’t exercise basic tact.
1. “You would be much prettier without that thing on your face.”
This is the niqabi version of “You’d be so much prettier if you smiled.” Please stop telling me what I can and can’t do with my face.
2. “I bet your husband/father forced you to wear that.”
I understand there are real cases of this but the majority of women who wear it, do so because they want to – especially in Western countries. Instead of assuming why I wear the veil, just ask me about why I wear it!
3. “Has your husband seen your face?”
Um, of course? We eat, sleep, and live together. He is married to me.
4. “Where are you really from?”
This is not just a strictly “niqabi” thing, but people tend to assume that women who wear the niqab must be from the Middle East. Just like anyone else, we can be from anywhere in the world.
5. “I wanna see you.”
Well, you do see me. You just don’t see my skin.
6. “Your eyes are sexy.”
People who try to objectify the few inches of skin niqabis have left are super, super creepy. Your advances are unwelcome. Stop objectifying women!
7. “Are you Batman?”
This is actually the one exception I want to include in this list. It’s really cute when little kids think I am their favorite superhero, honestly. I’d love for more people to confuse me with a person that regularly saves the day.
8. “You’re just covered up like that so you can do crimes!”
Like most human beings that wear clothes, there are good and bad people who wear the niqab. Most niqabis are law-abiding, God-fearing citizens of the world that want nothing to do with making God (or the law) angry. We hate crime as much as you do.
9. “You wear that because you’re ugly.”
No, I am not ugly at all. I like how I look actually!
10. “So you wear it because you think you’re so pretty? You’re full of yourself.”
Nope. Niqabis literally can’t win, can we?
11. “But nobody knows your identity! I need to see your face every second of the day to verify who you are.”
I can almost guarantee you don’t remember every face you pass in the grocery store. That’s because your brain naturally gets rid of information it doesn’t need. If by chance one does need to know what niqabi looks like, (Ex: for an ID or in court), we are required by Islamic law to take off our niqab long enough to be identified by the authorities.
12. “I would find it oppressive. You are brainwashed!”
I recognize that some women hate the niqab, but some of us really enjoy wearing it. In case you forgot, every woman has an autonomous brain that can tell you if she likes or doesn’t like what she is doing. I find it so frustrating for people to tell me what I like wearing without actually listening to me. Note: I’ve mostly gotten this from men.
13. “Are you a piece of art on the oppression of women?”
This really happened to me when I was tabling for a local womxn’s empowerment group.
I guess the lady assumed there was no way I was a real Muslim woman advocating for the rights of women. It made more sense that I was channeling Lady Gaga or something, I guess.
14. “I need to see your full face to have a genuine connection.”
Or you could just treat me like a decent human being and respect my boundaries? People are people – no matter how much skin they’re showing. They don’t deserve less respect just because you have a personal problem with how they look.
15. “I don’t think it’s obligatory so I don’t think you should wear it.”
This is from other Muslims, of course. A lot of people say this to me the first time we meet. Sometimes we haven’t even changed names before they let me know their opinion on my attire.
It would be one thing if my friends and I talked about these things, but it’s usually other women who feel like I’m going to judge them for dressing differently (by first passing judgment themselves).