Posted on Sep 03, 2017
Before I begin, I'll start by saying this is a topic many people feel uncomfortable talking about. Whenever issues of hijab are brought up (particularly on social media) there's almost immediate push-back and no matter the stance of the person bringing up the subject, they're almost always shut-down in a non-productive manner. Something needs to be done about that. I think it's healthy to discuss these issues and be honest with ourselves to have a productive conversation surrounding the issue of women struggling with hijab.
I answered this question for an 'Ask Melanie' video (below) on YouTube and thought I'd lay out the basic points here as well. A growing number of women have been removing hijab as of late and I believe it's healthy to examine why. Here are some (but not all) reasons women remove hijab.
1) The Political Climate
It's no secret being a Muslim in America is more difficult now than it's ever been. With all that's happening, we're seeing everything from it being downright dangerous to keep hijab on in certain areas of the country, to, 'I no longer want to stand out in hijab in this day and age.'
Whether we want to admit it or not, many women feel more visible now than ever, they feel more aware of themselves and their hijab in ways they never did. Some don't have an issue with this new visibility, but for others, this has become a significant obstacle and challenge.
2) Self-Esteem Issues / Societal Pressures
I happen to believe this is the more likely cause of women removing hijab. All women struggle with self-esteem and societal pressures regardless of faith, and Muslim women are not immune to this threat. As we consume more and more images of what society tells us women should look and act like, whether on social media (hello, Kim K and Kyle Jenner), on TV (HBO's Girls, anyone?), movies (weak damsel in distress gets the guy, got it), or music (wear next to nothing and twerk - oh, and be sure to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while you're doing it) - it can get pretty confusing. On the one hand their faith is teaching them one set of values, but in their everyday life, they're being bombarded with another set of values. Muslim women are getting mixed messages.
The pressure to implement these contrarian values into our lives may eventually convince a woman to remove hijab since the hijab can hinder this lifestyle of being a sexual object of desire, engaging in behaviors contrary to our Islamic beliefs or not conforming to society's ideals of beauty.
3) Lost Conviction in Hijab
This is something I'm sure most of us can agree were seeing more of lately. Many women went through the motions in life - they got their degrees, found a husband, had kids, etc., and their identity as a Muslim took a backseat. One day they wake up and realize how disconnected they are from their upbringing as a Muslim, so, "Why am I still wearing the hijab again?" As such you will find a formed belief that hijab is no longer relevant to their everyday life or one step further, that the practice itself is not in fact mandatory (fard).
Be sure to watch my video for more depth and join in on the conversation - why do you think women are taking off hijab? Have you removed hijab? Share your insight below :)