Whether you have been wearing hijab since the age of twelve, or someone who has just donned it recently, every day is a new experience for hijabis. Questions about why you wear it, comments about how it affects or restricts your lifestyle, and sometimes ignorant religious slurs are just to name a few of the encounters that hijab wearing females go through. However, I like to think of us hijabis as members of an elite female club, in which a piece of fabric and the attitude and style of dress that accompanies it makes us unique. It’s amazing as I look back at the past year and a half when I first started med school and remember events that occurred in which my hijab was the star player.

The greatest thing about hijab is that as soon as someone sees you they know that you are Muslim. With beards in style, brothers don’t really have that advantage, unless they’re wearing a name tag with the name Mohamed or Abdullah. Whenever we have clinical classes in which you need to expose skin or a body part, the course director takes one look at me and without me even mentioning it to him or her, accommodations have been made. For instance, in our casting workshop, every student was expected to cast a student’s leg and have their own leg casted as well. The professor arranged that I would cast someone’s leg, but did not have to be casted my own self. To make the balance even, a student offered to have both her own legs casted so that no one would miss out.

With hijab comes great responsibilities, and that means a certain attitude and manner of speaking. This is extremely important since there are many misconceptions about the hijab oppressing females, so we always make an effort to speak intelligently and behave appropriately in all types of situations, even if there is inappropriate language targeted towards us. We learn to develop tough skin! That is really what makes us Muslim hijabis unique; we earn ourselves a reputation that remains untarnished as long as we continue to respect the hijab that we are honored to wear. I’ve had non-Muslim guys plainly tell me that they know not to mess with a hijabi because they are on a different level than the other girls that they know.

My favorite perk about hijab? You’re never forgotten. There may be ten girls with the same hairstyle, but once they see the hijab, you’re etched into a patient’s or an attending’s memory. Every clinical professor that I have dealt with in last year’s classes has seen me in the clinic and remembered me, not because of my amazing patient history taking skills but because of my hijab. It helps when asking for recommendation letters 🙂

The hijab has never set me back while in med school, it has only made me more confident and aware of my own potential. Along with the way I carry myself, it has earned me respect and has marked me as an unique individual. When people see you respecting your religion in all circumstances, they look at you from another point of view. So keep on rocking that hijab, and show the world that a slight modification in your dress is not going to stop you from changing the world!