Love letter to my Muslim girls
Cheers to my Muslim girls in every corner and crook of the world. I see you and acknowledge you. Cheers to the girl in hijab and the one without. Cheers to the girl who gets bullied, to the girl who has been laughed at for having a weird name, and to the one who’s been made to hate her own skin. Cheers to my rebellious and adventurous girl who snuck out for that party that later turned out to be boring, and cheers to the girl who’s an early bird in sync with the rhythm of the earth. Cheers to my Muslim girl who loves Adidas and to the one who prefers Puma. Cheers to the one who prefers wine instead of iced tea and to the one who draws a heart around the word me. Cheers to my undefeated Muslim girl whose body portrays a painful history.
Cheers to the girl who sets her own boundaries, and refuses to give in to the cage the world keeps pushing her in to, and cheers to the depressed soul who’s found a way out. Cheers to the girl who keeps getting insults disguised as compliments: ‘for a Muslim girl you’re…’ and cheers to the brave girl who stares ugly at the ones who give her lustful, piercing gazes. Cheers to all the girls who know what it feels to have your whole being summed up as your choice of attire. Cheers to the girls who demonstrate by undressing and to the ones who demonstrate by dressing. Cheers to my Muslim girl who’s tall, small, skinny or chubby. To the girl who’s both confident and insecure and to my Muslim girl who slays the selfies and to the one whose makeup is perceived as impure. Cheers to my Muslim girls for putting up with stigma, islamophobia and other forms of discrimination; you deserve so much better. Cheers to my Muslim girl with a secret so big it swallows her whole, and to the ones who have little to no worries. Cheers to the girl who falls in love with book characters and to the one who’s never read one. Cheers to the girl who always sits alone at lunchtime, not because she wants to, but because she has to. Cheers to my Muslim girls for putting up with sexism, bigotry and mansplaining; you deserve so much better. Cheers to the girl who feels unloved and of little value, and to the one who feels like she has the whole world in her palms. Cheers to my Muslim girl who they made feel alienated and foreign in both her skin and country. To the girl who looks around with a sad sigh thinking that this was not home after all, or to the girl who looks in the mirror and wonders around ‘what ifs’ as she gazes at the caramel skin and clenches at her curls tightly, while her gaze wanders down to her belly and suddenly she wants to skip today’s dinner like she did yesterday.
Cheers to the girls who own their sexuality and femininity and to the ones who hate it. Cheers to the politically active and loud girl, and to the quiet shy girl who is equally engaged but in her own way. Cheers to the girls who swear all the fucking time, and to the ones who bite their tongues every time they do. Cheers to the girl who prefers dad over mom and the girl who cherishes them both. Cheers to the girl who reads the Qur’an daily and to the one who never does. Cheers to the girl who holds culture responsible for all the injustices she has endured and cheers to the girl who holds religion responsible. Cheers to my Muslim girls who are feminists, activists, environmentalists and pacifists. Cheers to them for taking a slice of the cake; for claiming their rightful share. Cheers to the girl who loves the boys with the ‘wrong’ religion, ‘wrong’ ethnicity and ‘wrong’ class. Cheers to the girl who watches the football match intensely, as she daydreams of one day being able to participate. Cheers to the girl who takes up big space. Cheers to the girl who’s felt homophobia on her body and to the girl who constantly must defend her identity because of other people’s insecurities. Cheers to the girls who’re under extreme social control and to the ones who’ve shamelessly repeatedly drunk themselves full on freedom. Cheers to the girls with traditional families who don’t live in the now, and cheers to the girls who wish their families were more conservative. Cheers to the girl who dedicates her entire life to trying to achieve acknowledgement from her cold and passive loved ones, and cheers to the girl who sets her goals, aspirations and dreams aside to make use of the possibilities and opportunities her family never had. Cheers to the girl who escaped one injustice, only to fall into another. Cheers to the girl who has loneliness as her only company. And cheers to the girl who’s crossed oceans of injustices, and who when she finally sunk her anchor, ended up being greeted with an unwelcome and hateful eye. Cheers to the girls who scrub their bodily shells just so they can feel at peace in-between the numbness. And until she can feel like she has reclaimed the control that was raped and ripped away from her, until that, she will not stop scrubbing the skin. What’s there to save, she will ask. I am dead within. Even if she ends up bathing in her own blood, she will continue scrubbing away the footprints that stomped dead the flowers that were growing on her bodily landscape.
Cheers to the girl who from time to time would feel long fingers crawling around her throat in a mission to put her in place. Cheers to the girl who has never owned her femaleness. How could she? She’s been abused for it all her life. Hide your curves. Eat your smile. Throw your eyeballs and cut those sensual lips. Cheers to the little girl who was glad when her first menstruation came. Suicide is a sin but no one can hold her accountable if she bleeds from within.
Cheers to the girls who grow up to be independent, strong individuals who constantly make sure that they don’t make the same mistakes; that they don’t misuse the same trust nor discourage the same ambitions. They keep away from pushing and pulling and silencing and drowning just as it happened to them, because once you´ve been broken, bruised and beaten you don’t wish it on others.
But my dear Muslim girl, at the end of the day you are undefinable because you are so much. You are havoc, peace, hate and love all at the same time. Most of all, you are the breath I need. You are me. Forgive me for not revealing this earlier: nobody can control you. Not the family, the community, the colleagues nor the government. They may give you a new name, strip you of your hijab or force one on you, make you out to be the ugly enemy not worthy of a great life and they may drown your voice or silence your cries, but they will never seize your unwavering strength of will. You are more than worthy, and therefore you should define your own goddamn framework. Never will you fit into other people’s molds; you must create your own.