I’m proud of myself because I was able to create my personal integrity and able to live a consistent life.

Hello, I’d like to talk about my story, too.

I was born in a conservative family. My mother had always been infusing religion since I was a child. I lived with these infusions until I reached puberty. But when I entered puberty, things had changed. This process started a little early for me; I was 11 when I started menstruating. I used to fast at most one week during Ramadan until then. My mother told me that I had to fast during all Ramadan. Most of my girl friends didn’t start menstruating so they weren’t fasting. Most of my boy friends didn’t fast, neither. My first rebel was then. While my friends were playing outside, I was spending that beautiful summer indoors, sitting. Fasting was hard and also I was offended by Allah; because of my physiology I took responsibility earlier than my friends. Why did Allah treated me like that, I thought. My mother was forcing me to pray. I started reading Qur’an’s translation. Seeing that slavery and concubinage were free fueled my suspicion. But I continued my prays, saying that I was ignorant and unable to understand.

My mother was trying very hard to make me hate my body, because I had refused to cover my hair. For instance, no matter how I did my hair, she never liked it. She used to call me fringy. She used to say “Do you think you’re pretty when your hair is uncovered like this?”. After a while, I was actually discouraged. I had thought about covering myself sometimes. When I think about it now, I think my mother behaved unscrupulously. What kind of religion make a mother make her children hate her body? I refuse to understand that. I used to pray but I wasn’t willing to cover fully. I’ve never accepted head scarf. Why I had to cover my body just because some men’s weaknesses? Besides, is there an end to it? Qur’an, says women to walk silently, because men could be aroused by the sound of women’s heels. Why are we the one who pay the price? Why, instead of ordering women to hide themselves, aren’t men dictated to leave women alone, if not they would be punished severely? I’d never understood that. In time, my faith had faded. I stopped praying. I became an agnostic. I hadn’t gotten my eyebrows plucked because it was a sin and I used to have pretty thick and shapeless eyebrows. When I completely left the religion, one of the first things I did was getting my eyebrows plucked. I was 14 years old. That ordinary event was a rebel, a victory for me. My mother got angry, grumbly. She said that she didn’t like it, they were prettier as natural and it was a sin. Also, that summer, I bought some clothes I liked more. It was holiday. We were at my grandfather’s house. My mother cornered me, said that she was ashamed by me. “As if you look so pretty this way, as if you have a beautiful body.” I was slightly plump, she tried to get me by using my weight.  “If you dress like the way Allah commands, your weight would not show”, she said. I was wearing a skinny jean and a shirt whose neck was a bit open. But I used to wear large clothes until then. This was my second rebel. While I was so happy in those clothes, she was thinking about what would our relatives think about me. What kind of religion make a mother care about the things the others say more than her child’s happiness? I refused to understand this, too.

Finally, I changed my Arabic name which is only used by political Islamists when I was 18. I got a new name which makes me happy every time I hear. I was like the last the last chain. I teared it off. I Didn’t want anything to remain from that bad days. And I celebrated my rebirth. I suffered harshly; it was a painful birth.

But now, I’m happy with all the decisions I’ve made. I am happy being the person I am. I’m 19 years old. I’m proud of myself because I was able to create my personal integrity and able to live a consistent life. I love my family but I’m not a limb of them. I love my body too; despite all pressures, I’ve not let my body being humiliated, despised. I’ve never accepted that it was a sin needed to be hidden.

Because I know that humiliating the body means humiliating the life and I know that it makes being happy impossible. For that, I think that this decision is between death and life. Either we’ll live or we’ll put ourselves into graves alive. I can say that I make myself accepted in my family, despite some psychological pressures remain still. My greatest luck was my father not being as strict as my mother. I guess it got too long. I wrote this text for both to bare my heart and to give hope and courage to the daughters of conservative families who are in similar conditions. I hope that this platform would conduce to good things. With love.

(Image: Nike)

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