Stereotype number one: When we see a woman with a headscarf, we either think she is completely stupid or we are sorry for her. We make films in our heads about how unhappy she must be and who probably makes her wear the scarf. Why do we do that? Who am I to judge them? What do I know about them and their reasons to cover their hair?
Recently, these stereotypes and prejudices have been hitting me even more since I joined a fitness centre for women. (Why did I join a fitness centre for women? Simply because I like their programme. It´s different from other places. I can go there when I want, how often I want. And I don´t need to care if some guys are excited about having a foreign girl around.) It seems that at least half of the members are women with headscarves. The funny thing is that they take them off when they exercise so you are all the same in the gym. You have no idea which woman does and which one doesn´t cover their hair. I joined this gym a month ago but it still surprises me from time to time, when seeing a smiley chatterbox with her hair dyed to blond, how she covers her hair when changing her clothes.
Then I ask myself: Why is that exactly? I´ve been living here for almost a year and a half, I have studied about the religion, history, culture, language... So why is that when seeing a happy modern Turkish woman, I expect her not to cover her hair? I don´t know and somehow I am ashamed for that but I guess that´s what I brought from my country. That a headscarf is a symbol of violence, injustice, reactionism, silence, modesty. I am not saying that in some cases it isn´t so, nor am I planning to wear a headscarf. I am just trying to be a bit more open-minded and not to judge those who don´t judge me for wearing a mini skirt for example.
There are not only many kinds of headscarves, but even more types of women who wear them, naturally. Some of the more modern ones can wear a headscarf together with jeans and sport shoes. I´ve seen covered women with tons of make-up, high heels, lots of jewellery and a handbag ten times more fashionable than mine. I´ve seen uncovered calves too. I´ve seen sisters, mothers and daughters, best friends walking side by side, one dressed as a very modest muslim, the other one with high heels and a skirt so short I would never dare to wear it.
One thing I am sure about though is that headscarves is something that kind of divides Turkey. Ones hate them, believing that wearing them is like betraying the greatest Turkish hero Atatürk. But hand in hand with the Turkish nationalism, there is also the religion. Still, sometimes the families whose women do not cover their hair, are more religious than the others.
This is Turkey. As I had said before, the bridge between the East and West. And so is the question of headscarves in Turkey. Stuck between the East and West.