OPINION: My day in hijab

Dene Dryden, freshman in English, participated in 'A Day in Hijab' on April 19, 2017. (Kaitlyn Alanis | The Collegian)

Yesterday I participated in the Kansas State Muslim Students Association’s “A Day in Hijab” event, where non-Muslim women wore headscarves for a day and shared what the experience was like. Since I could not attend the evening meet-up yesterday, I am sharing my experience through the Collegian.

I first heard about “A Day in Hijab” from one of my housemates who practices Islam. About six other women in my living community wore hijab yesterday, but I did not see anyone else with a headscarf until late in the morning.

After going to two classes and stopping by Radina’s, I was walking back home around 10:30 a.m. when I passed another woman wearing hijab, talking with a friend. As we passed, she said “Hey, there’s a friend!” To me, this implied that I was the first person wearing hijab she had seen, too.

For the most part, the rest of my day carried on normally. A handful of friends asked if I was participating in “A Day in Hijab.” They also asked if I was warm since I wore long sleeves and pants. Otherwise, acquaintances and strangers treated me the same; I did not notice any weird looks or long stares. Only two people asked — kindly — if I was actually Muslim.

I definitely noticed my identity compared to most other students had changed. As a white person who has lived her whole life in rural Kansas, I can safely say I have always belonged to the majority.

When I went to women’s choir rehearsal, I was a little surprised to see I was the only woman in the room wearing hijab. Women’s choir has forty-some women and is fairly diverse as far as race, field of study and class standing, so it would have made sense if other women there were wearing headscarves too.

After editing for the Collegian, I finished my day by visiting my boyfriend. I did not tell him I would be wearing a headscarf. When he saw me, he remarked that my hijab looked flattering, and since he knew that the event was going on yesterday, he was not surprised that I wore one.

At the end of the day, my experience wearing hijab was educational and comfortable. My biggest struggles were the wind and the heat. I believe K-State is an open, accepting community, but my story should be taken with a grain of salt. I am a white, agnostic woman, so my everyday experiences are different than those of Muslims.

Dene Dryden is a freshman in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

I'm Dene Dryden, and I graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor's of Arts in English. Before graduating, I worked at the Collegian for more than three years as a copy chief, managing editor and editor-in-chief. I also served a term on the Collegian Media Group Board of Directors. While at K-State, I also worked at Wildcat 91.1 FM. My cat Robyn is the light of my life, and I take compliments in the form of coffee.