Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hijabs and Hoodies

They've been all over the news: you haven't missed it, have you?  A woman killed and left with a note telling her to go home, "you terrorist," when all that was known about her was the fact that she wore hijab.  A young man killed late at night in a quiet neighborhood because, wearing a hoodie, he looked suspicious.

Judged on skin colour?  Religion?  Real behaviour?  And there is that something that they just happened to be wearing on their heads. Coincidence, perhaps. And an indicator to those who go bareheaded that something is "weird" about them, it seems.

Men began walking around head bared to the sun somewhere in the 40s and 50s, and I haven't found a true reason in any article to explain why.  (President Kennedy was following a trend, apparently, not creating one, when he frequently appeared in public hat-less.) But his decision to go bare-headed, and the many women who soon after followed suit in taking off their hats and scarves in public, both in the US and in the Western world, seems to have affected these modern generations who feel that there is something "wrong" with wearing something on their heads. Something suspicious. Are they hiding something in there?

Doctors and parents have to beg to get people to cover up out of doors on sunny days or freezing days, and wilderness experts emphasize in every article how important a hat is to your essentials list.  Those who do wear caps outdoors often wear them bills-backwards, losing any benefit the protective sun shade might offer. Women cut their hair off like men, rather than spend the time it takes to care for and cover to protect their hair in out of doors situations.

I have my guesses as to some of the reasons that hats and other head coverings fell out of fashion for so much of the Western world. Head coverings were status symbols in an era when no one was supposed to be more important than anyone else. In the past it was sort of okay to show off your Easter bonnet, because everyone seemed to enjoy the sport. The better the hat, the higher the rank, so you knew who your superiors were and could treat them accordingly.  But then times changed.  God was declared dead, and therefore all men were no longer "created" equal, but were equal based on the fact that we all came from the same dirt. And more than any time in history, it seemed, people took offense at their elders, their bosses, their parents, the authorities - their men - ... and anyone who attempted to put one person "above" another. Hats and headcoverings symbolized authority, wealth, status... and suffered from our pride. (As do we, when we sunburn or freeze or get ticks from the trees in our hair...).  And from lack of familiarity over the years, came ignorance, and close on its heels: fear.

So hijabs and hoodies, turbans and yamulkas, are now suspect. What are we hiding?

Liking this article: Hoodie, hijab killings rooted in U.S. 'fear industry'

One Million Hijabs For Shaima Alawadi: Women Wear Hijabs In Support Of Slain Iraqi Woman
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