‘Dancing skirt’ by Mahboobeh Rajabi
When I was six or seven my mum was putting me in dresses with short skirts. At that time I was able to move with a hidden power, my legs confident in the freedom of the material. Those girlhood skirts showed me a sense of my femininity: the secure wrap around my waist, the touch of cloth against my thighs.
I was witness to a powerful force, to wear the full hijab.
A tiny child, I managed to go out in shorter skirts than my friends. My mum was scared the authorities might notice I was becoming a woman, so at ten I was wearing a full hijab outside home. But this did not stop the image of ‘skirt’ in my head and the powerful feeling I had when wearing one.
I watched some videos of Iran before the revolution in 1977. I understood that we were in the same country. The hijab was not forced. People like my mother wore skirts everywhere, even to school. Just the thought of going to school in a skirt seemed like achieving the biggest power as a girl. In my time of growing up as a woman, I wanted to know why I couldn’t wear what I wanted.
Religion teachers told us how sinful it was to wear such clothes. I started to feel bad about my own body. The longer-style Persian skirt danced away my expressions of femininity in the universe, the universe as life’s creator.
In the UK I can choose any length of skirt I want. Fourteen years here, and still I am fighting to wear a skirt. I will do it one day because I realise the most important point is that it can make me feel more like me. Each movement will make a perfect duet with my unique body.
(Copyright: Mahboobeh Rajabi, 2022)
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