Sometimes I look at a post for such a long time, reading and re-reading, that I feel like I’m missing something extremely important. The elephant grows so big that I can’t see the trees from the forest. I wrote this post in the wee hours, with the intension of generating some dialogue about modesty — but obviously I can really only write from personal experience. I’d be genuinely interested to hearing all of your thoughts on the matter.

I’m always surprised when someone asks what my hair looks like.

It’s usually a complete stranger or an acquaintance who opens the conversation by complimenting the colour of my scarf. Eryn is another convenient topic starter – with people asking up front if her cherubic curls are mine. I have one acquaintance who jokes that his goal in life is to see my hair and he’s just waiting for a really strong wind to rip off my hijab.

This question is rooted in curiosity, and while mildly invasive, I find it strange that some people think I would actually divulge my “hidden secret.” Or run giggling to the ladies’ room to slowly unwrap my head – fetishizing what lies beneath. Often, I just smile and say that I’m bald.

When I refuse to describe my hair I get the follow-up question, “why?” and have to attempt a discussion on modesty and gender interaction in-between subway stops: I cover in front of men… well, the religion teaches that interaction between the genders should be guarded and has special dress requirements for both men and women… yes, I can show other women… no, I don’t sleep with it on… some don’t cover because there are differences in interpretation and cultural expression… well, no, the Qur’an doesn’t exactly say “hair” and there’s internal debates over that… yes, men grow beards… yeah, I know, ironic — but it’s not about hair per se… yes, I know the hijab tends to draw attention “here”… no, I’m Canadian… yes, originally!