As a part of Islam Appreciation week, female students across campus became hijabis for the day — stepping into the shoes of female Muslims on campus.
The event, hosted by the University of Wisconsin Muslim Student Association and Wisconsin Union Directorate Global Connection, aimed to normalize hijabs and address Islamophobia on campus.
A hijab is a scarf commonly worn by Muslim women, covering the head and sometimes the neck and chest. When women choose to wear the scarf, they are often called hijabis.
During “Hijabi for a Day,” the women met in the morning to receive their head scarves and also get assigned a texting buddy, who wears a hijab on a day-to-day basis.
Farhat Bhuiyan, one of the organizers of the event, said one of the main goals is to normalize Muslim female practices. She said hijabs don’t always mean that a person is Muslim, they often do.
Throughout the day, Bhuiyan said she received both positive and negative feedback. She said that the negative feedback suggested it was cultural appropriation or offensive.
Bhuiyan said those who feel negatively might not understand the point of the event. She responded to every message she received during the day, trying to explain the organization’s goals.
At the end of the day, the women had an opportunity to reflect on the experiences and describe their feelings when wearing hijabs.
Anna Ambros, a sophomore at UW, said she wished more people came up to her during the day to ask why she was wearing a hijab.
“I got some looks,” Ambros said. “I’m sure they were wondering why I was wearing a hijab because I never had before. I’m not a Muslim.”
During the day, Ambros said she wanted that dialogue to help educate others and break stereotypes. To her, having controversial conversations are really important.
Ambros said she originally decided to participate to support Muslim women during the current climate.
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Many of the women said they received compliments during the day and felt beautiful. Others expressed that more people would look at them while wearing the hijab.
For her personally, Bhuiyan said modesty is one of the main reasons why she wears a hijab. Many also feel more confident wearing one so others focus on their character rather than beauty, she said.
“The fact that it’s hidden — that means that it’s something worth being treasured,” Bhuiyan said.