Hiking in Hijab

You know what?  I get more hits for people searching for ways to wear hijab than anything else.  I know I’m not muslim anymore, but I AM a physicist in geophysics, so let me share my wisdom on hijabing in the wilderness.

Oregon has two climates – cold and wet, and hot and dry.  Since we’re in cold and wet here in Benton County, this is what I usually do when I go up to Mary’s Peak to hike for a day with the geology students.  I wear spandex cycling tights (which you can also purchase for running) under my jeans.   You’ll thank me later.  So, jeans (bring a second pair if you’ll be out for awhile – just leave them in the car), and LAYER your shirts.  Get a very light long sleeved top, and wear a tshirt over it.  Then, a fleecy vest (if you have one), or a fleece itself.  Get a rainshell, preferably a gore-tex one (but only if you live in a ridiculously rainy climate like this one), and gloves if you don’t like your hands being freaking cold.

Ok, time out.  This is like, snowy-time hiking clothing.  When I went last time up Mary’s Peak for a class trip, I froze.  It was snowing/raining, windy, and I wore Keens.  For those of you who don’t know what Keens are, here’s a link of what shoes I wore. I love my red Keens!  Not good for snow.  The snow slips in under your arches, and then you’re hiking around in snow and rocks the rest of the time.  Mmm, flu.

I wore a lycra hijab, one piece, from Al Muhajaba El Aniqa.  I love their one-piece Al Amira hijabs.  They’re comfortable and non-fussy.  BUT, and this is a but: if you have silky hair like I did, they’ll slip right off.  Wear a lace headband to hold your wispies back, and to keep it firmly attached to your scalp.  I also recommend a thicker pashmina if it’s cold weather, and it doesn’t really look like rain.  Everyone will be so flippin jealous of you since you’ll be toasty and they’ll be ice cubes.

In the summer, wear the 2 piece lyra al-amira hijabs.  They fit closely, and you can wet them and pull them back on if you’re hot.  Alternatively, you could wear the Kuwaiti Al Amira hijabs, another favourite of mine.  They’re whispy thin, which lets the breeze in, and lets the heat from your head out (you’d be surprised how much heat you retain when you still have hair!).  The downside is that people might see your hair colour, but not your hair, if you catch my drift.

That’s all for now.  Just keep them pinned down and they won’t blow away.  Don’t let them flow over your shoulders (keep them close to your neck) so your daypacks don’t pull them off.  Keep hydrated!  Have fun 🙂

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Been busy!

Well, no, I’ve had a strep throat kind of thing and I finally got my fever manageable today.  I’ve had school, watched Chelsea play (the Huddersfield match was brilliant… the Champions League match the other day… not so brilliant).  Work was busy on monday.  I had a customer who couldn’t find the escape key (he pronounced it ex-scape).  I was like, “Sir, it’s the button in the top-left corner of your keyboard.”  “Nope, don’t see it.”  *sigh*  “Sir, it’s right there.  It may say ‘esc’ on it?”  No dice.  I worked with him for over 30 mins on just setting up his dial up connection.  Sad.  I’ve not had a customer like that in awhile.  Had to leave early last night b/c my fever was getting worse and I had lost my voice.  My boss was NOT happy with me.  “If you HAVE to leave, then leave,” he said.  Well, I had to leave.  Jerkface.

So, I have the day off today, and I plan on napping on and off, and doing some hw.  May have to go see the dr if my fever doesn’t totally go away.  It’s only 100.6F right now, which isn’t *bad* persay.

Oh, in women’s studies today, they played my song!  I turned in the song “The Veil” by Dawud Whamsby Ali as a feminist song, and I explained how the song is really an answer to all those people who say wearing hijab is oppression.  Some people wear it in solidarity with those who have to wear it, but it’s a choice for me I suppose.  I’m still not wearing it 24/7 yet, but I’m getting there.  I think it gets easier every time 🙂

Stripes are totally in!

So, I ordered a few hijabs from The Hijab Shop in the UK (my dear country, how I miss you) and I’ll give them a bit of a reviewing here:

Aroub Hijabs – Best invention EVER. They’re all attached into singular pieces so you don’t need pins of any sort. I purchased the Al-Aroub, which is like a shayla attached to an underscarf. I couldn’t figure it out for the freaking life of me at first, and threw it on my bed for later. But, it became later, and I picked it up and slid it on so the length was sort of at the back right of my head. MAN is it comfortable. Slide it on like an underscarf, then flip it over like a normal shayla (around the neck, over the crown of your head), then either pin it (I know, I promised no pins), or fanagle it so you don’t have to. If you fanagle it, you might be playing with it all day. I’ll update later on whether or not I had to play with it through my optics lab. Mine is the pretty navy spotted one, and I really do like the pattern. It looks busy, but its not.

The other Aroub hijab I purchased was the Lubana. I got the solid light blue one AND the blue and white one. Not the best idea I’ve ever had. I like being able to tie it around my neck, but then your neck is exposed (but great for those cold winter days we’ve been having since I can then wrap a winter scarf [Go Chelsea!] around my neck and it doesn’t tug on my hijab). I’ve got a HUGE head. Dunno how my mum did it. But, this isn’t good for large-headed girls. It’s okay for adults, but unless you like the feeling of being vaguely choked throughout the day, I’d leave the Lubana there. The all blue one is more flexible than the white and blue, so that’s a thought. You can leave it undone as well at the bottom, but unless you’re wearing a turtleneck, your neck might show. Tried doing the half over the shoulder thing like the girl in the picture – no dice. Just don’t buy this one.

I also bought two bonnet caps – one black, one brown (I wear a TONNE of brown… didn’t realise). They’re about £1.50 ($3.00 for you Americans), and are brilliant… if you have long hair. I’m blessed with this really cute cropped hairdo right now that hovers over my shoulders… what? Girls who wear hijab DO have hair under there, thanks. I like feeling pretty under my scarf. Okay, so the Cute Cropped Hairdo is not good for the underscarf because it’s about 2 cm too short. If I pretie it and then slide it on, its fine. In fact, better than fine. It’s so comfortable and covers your whole head that you don’t even realise you’re wearing it – not like the lace headbands I usually wear. So, two thumbs up for undercaps thingies!

I’ve seen a few hijabis at uni sporting striped hijabs, and I’ve been jealous – I want in on the stripe phenomenon!! So, the entire reason I shopped at The Hijab Shop was because they had the best striped pashmina hijab I could find. It has a litany of narrow stripes, and it’s COMFORTABLE. It’s large enough to do my favourite way to do pashminas:

Stick it on your head so there’s equal amounts on each side of your face. Gather and pin under the chin as you usually would (don’t use a safety pin like I do or you’ll ruin more scarves than you really want to admit to…like that pretty pink one I got during my shahada… I’m sad about that still). Use a special oval hijab pin if you can find them. So yeah, pull it across on both sides so its rather taut, and flip the the side that’s under the front over the head first. Pull it over the crown of your head, and tuck in at the cheek on the opposite side. Rinse and repeat. I usually put in two pins at the sides of my head, and one on the crown just to keep them in place. You really dont have to if there’s enough friction and you aren’t going to be running or hiking.

Ok, sorry, got sidetracked. So, all in all I’m VERY pleased with The Hijab Shop. They have very quick service… I think I waited a week and got them from the UK to Oregon. Pretty quick shipping. Dunno if they shipped it Royal Mail, but for two underscarves and 4 hijabs… shipping was around £8.50. I’ve found better shipping elsewhere, but they were quick, and it was about 6000 miles. If I buy any more fun stuff from them, I’ll let you know. They carry the Silk Route jilbabs and abayas, so I may buy one when I’ve more money. They are SO cute. I don’t usually wear jilbabs or abayas, so we’ll see how that goes. May wear them to work (it’d be comfy). The abaya I do own is nice. I wear my footy trousers under them, and some sort of raggy tshirt. Brilliant if you don’t want to get dressed and you’re rushing to class!

Ok, I’ve got a lab to finish before lecture at 11, and if I have any hopes of finishing it, I better find my protractor and calculator… wherever that went. Might be under my bed… or in my duvet (that’s where I found it last time… sad, huh?).

Oh, if any of you can find a hijab that matches Chelsea’s garish away kit, please let me know. I mean, I don’t want a violent yellow one, but I’d like something that doesn’t clash. God, it is awful, isn’t it? Bleh.

What am I supposed to wear?!

I’ve got a lot of hits on my blog for hijabing, which kind of surprises me. But, if that’s what all of you are looking for, here are a few tips I’ve kind of lived by:

  1. You just need to be covered. Use your best judgment when it comes to what you decide to wear. I fluctuate between jeans (Levi’s 545s are my favourite), to skirts of some sort (Shukr has the nicest ones I’ve found). Find a long sleeved top. If it doesn’t cover your butt, it doesn’t cover your butt. If you want to wear a jilbab, then do so. If you want to wear an abaya, then do so. They aren’t necessary (some people will say otherwise, and that’s fine if they think that). Depending on who you talk to, they may say they are necessary, and that’s their prerogative.
  2. Pick whatever colours you enjoy, and wear those scarves. I have a few standbys that I like to wear a lot (usually the 1 piece Al-Amira versions that just slip over your head with no pins required… great for lazy uni students who plan their ‘getting ready’ time down to the last minute). I also look and see what the weather is. If it’s going to be 30C outside, you definitely don’t want to be wearing a thick pashmina – go for a silk scarf or a Kuwaiti version. If it’s 3C (like it has been here), wear a pashmina. If it’s raining, for pete sakes, bring a raincoat. Don’t ruin your scarves in the water.
  3. People will most likely go out of their way to be nice to you (at least, that’s what they do for me). Don’t worry about what you look like. Wearing hijab is not just your clothes, but your state of mind as well. Enjoy it 🙂 Just because you’re covered doesn’t mean you have to be meek or quiet – if anything, I’m more self-assured than I used to be.
  4. Don’t forget to cover your neck!!
  5. Having your fringe show isn’t hijab. So please, pin back those extra strands of hair.
  6. Like I said, have fun with it. The internet is your friend, and you’ll be able to import all sorts of fun things.

My favourite website is: http://www.shukronline.com/home.html. They have the nicest skirts and long tops, as well as rather inexpensive, beautiful hijabs. They also have a collection of longer coats. Their clothes are made in Syria, and they have a separate website for the US and the UK.

Another great site is the Modest Clothing Directory. The owner is a revert (like myself), and has posted (most) every possible islamic clothing site she can find. The sites are separated by category, like shirts, pants, skirts, hijabs, jilbabs, etc. There are even a few sites for work out clothes (but I usually just wear black under armour under normal work out clothes, like shorts and a tshirt, with a lycra al-amira hijab).

For swimming, I’ve recommended this site before: Ahiida.com They have the BEST islamic swimsuits out there, hands down. They cover, they fit, they dry quickly, and they don’t drag that much. I love my burqini. Best $200ish purchase I ever made. They shipped from Australia, and I got the order in California the next week. Very impressed with their service.

So I guess that’s everything for now. Today, I wore an olive green corduroy skirt from Shukr, a red long sleeved favourite tee from Gap, my dark red Keens (yeah, I live in Oregon, so sue me), and a black North Face polar fleece. I think I wore a white Kuwaiti hijab. I didn’t exactly match, but I was covered and toasty warm. If you have any ideas of what you usually wear, let me know. I’d love to find out what you usually wear.

Hijab-ing at Uni… for the first time.

So, if you read earlier entries in my blog, you’ll know that I’ve not been muslim long, and I kind of suck at it.  I’ve been hijab-ing with my sister Ashley for a few months, but not super long.  We’d go out for coffee, and I’d toss a headscarf on as I ran out the door.  A few weeks after that, it turned into a long, loose shirt with jeans and a headscarf.  After that, the jeans were replaced with a skirt.  After that… well, after talking to a few dozen people, I knew I wasn’t alone in saying that you just have to set a date and DO it permanently.

I said that the first day of winter quarter was my H-Day (hijab day).  Kind of like V-Day, but without the overt war.  Believe me when I say I fought with myself long and hard to do this.  I had changed departments as well, so no one in this department knew I hadn’t been doing it before now.  I was nervous… beyond nervous.  I cheated at Christmas time and didn’t wear it around my parents or my brother at all.  I still went out with him to the pubs, but I didn’t drink.  They… sort of know.  And what they do know, they’re in complete denial and pretend I’m not muslim, and I’m still a perfectly good little Catholic girl, but that’s not true.

So I wore it.  I bit the bullet, and put on this really nice olive-greenish skirt with some colour top (don’t remember), and hijabed it.  The class just pretended it wasn’t there, and the first person I met, Mike, was really receptive.  I didn’t ask him what he thought, but he and I had a cute little conversation before class.  People sat to the front and back of me, but not next to me.  The girls politely looked away, and the guys pretended I wasn’t there.  Is this how it’ll be the entire quarter?

Next period, I had Womens Studies, and Ashley was (thankfully) in class with me.  She picked me up from the geology department and walked over with me to Kelly (an Engineering building the class was in… I had no idea Kelly HAD classrooms tbh… I just get coffee there and use their free printing).  We’ve been chatting about this moment for weeks.  A white, hijabed Muslim girl in a womens studies class??  A hijabi who believes in equality and is rather liberal?  What?  These exist?  We walked in the classroom, which is brand new: it has white boards all along the walls, with stadium, table seating.  My (gay) friend, Nick, was sitting in the middle of the second row, and saw me as I walked in.  His eyes grew to saucer-size when he saw me in hijab.

“Kristin – look at you.”
“Hi, Nicky!  Happy new year!”
“Well, happy new year to yourself.  You… changed somehow.”
“Yeah, I’m Muslim, and admitting it in public.”
“Well, I’m bhuddist and spent the christmas hols meditating in Japan.”
“So, we’re both different. Awesome.”

And the conversation just flowed.  I stashed my headphones (which I hid under my hijab… it does come in handy when I don’t want to listen to lecture, come to think of it), and had a really good time with him.  He used to be my best friend.  Best best.  I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  The massive number of feminists stared, but they couldn’t believe they saw a hijabi who smiled a lot and had boisterous conversation with large hand gestures.  (I have an alarmingly bubbly demeanor when I’m uncomfortable. Usually I’m a bit mellow and quiet unless someone gets me all worked up.)

Class was fine – no one said anything.  We read the effing syllabus out loud, since our teacher apparently thinks we’re all mega retards.  Wednesday was a bit better, but they were still surprised to see a white hijabi.  Wednesday in geology… everyone avoided sitting near me, like I smelled.  I don’t quite know what to do.  It’s never bothered me before now.

I’m more self-conscious in hijab than without, I think.  I don’t lack the self-esteem, but now that I’m out of the closet, I lose a lot of interaction with other students.  I can’t go to the pub anymore, despite not drinking when I go.  I get invited to house parties, but I can’t go because guys are there (and alcohol).  People say I’ll be a better student, but I’m not sure about that.

Working out was a whole other matter entirely.   I don’t wear loose clothes when I work out – I find that they chafe and hinder performance (and are frankly dangerous when I fence).  I wore running tights, with running shorts over.  Then I wore an under armour shirt (long sleeved) with an England footy kit over (I have to show my pride), and a lycra hijab.  That’s pretty good for me.  It doesn’t hide my figure, but my skin isn’t showing.  The only thing that shows is my face and hands.  So, thats as good as it flippin gets.  It was uncomfortable, but I was covered, and I made an effort.  To swim in, I have the most brilliant swimsuit ever.  It’s made by Ahiida, an Australian company who makes Muslim swimsuits and sport outfits for hijabis.  I got a burqini swimsuit, which you can see here.  I love it.

All in all, I’ll write more later.  It all just kind of spilled out, didn’t it?  I feel like I’ve cut myself off from my friends, since I have no real muslim friends or support system.  The mosque here is… nice… but very conservative, and that’s not what I want.  I want something that accepts the western world and those who grew up here; this mosque doesn’t do that.

I’ve talked… typed… your ears off.  I’ll write more later when I quite understand everything. Dunno – maybe I’ll ask Ashley in the morning *yawns*.