#sexistSA: I don’t need your validation

I started observing the practise of hijab full-time in 2012. This means that in accordance with Islamic guidelines, I try to be modest in the way I dress – with no tight or short clothing – and I cover my hair by wearing a scarf.

By trying to be modest however, I am apparently telling the world that I think I’m ugly. At least that’s the impression given to me by random strangers who see fit to comment on my appearance. 

I have had countless experiences where men from the same cultural and religious background as me have found it necessary to tell me that I’m still someone worth looking at in their eyes. And the only way I can be worth looking at, is if I’m reduced to my physicality.Like the man at the butcher who three times over referred to me as “gorgeous scarf girl over there” while I was minding my own business at the counter. Or the brother of the guy making unsolicited comments to my cousin while we were shopping, telling me I’m his “beautiful baby”. Or the man who stroked my arm when I was scarf shopping, to try to sell me on the blue pashmina in my hand.I could go on and on.
These men were not doing these things to give me a self-esteem boost. They were doing it to make themselves feel important, as though a total stranger has a right to comment on how I look, lay a hand on me, or have a say in about what I think of myself.Because they assume that because I’m covered, I’m shy and I need their recognition and validation.
And this contradicts the whole purpose of the practice of hijab. I made the choice to dress the way I do so that I can be perceived for more than just what I wear.
For these men to not see that, is the ultimate disrespect.I don’t need your validation. You don’t need to be my saviour.
You may say that you are only trying to be nice but if it makes me uncomfortable, it’s harassment.
Have you experienced harassment in your daily life? Tell us about it.