Keeping Something Beneath the Surface

Words by Fikriyyah George Photos by Jillian Haney

My former roommate dropped by for a long overdue girl’s chat. She looked the same, but she had something new. She was wearing a hajib. She was always Muslim, even when she lived with me, but her hair had run free then. In living to the Koran’s edicts more stringently she explained that her hair was only to be seen by other women and her husband.

I was intrigued. With all this dating we do, premarital sex, however frowned upon it might be by bible thumpers, is pretty common place. Not only that, but we’re waiting longer and longer to get married. For those of us who want to get married what could our future husbands do that hasn’t already been done by a man who was once in his shoes? We have sex, cook, go to the movies, go on vacations together, and meet the parents of our significant others but we don’t have a ring on it.

Days later I got new glasses that finally had some style to them. Feeling myself I wore a favorite camisole from H&M past. Too fancy to wear for everyday occasions I can count the number of times I’ve worn it on my fingers despite having owned it for five plus years. But this was a special day, one where I wanted to look extra cute.

As I left my apartment I felt fine, but as I got further to my destination a peculiar feeling crept up on me- I felt naked. The camisole had spaghetti straps, my semi short skirt, between my knees and thighs was not making things better. It was probably because my tattoo was exposed for the first time in a long time.

Somehow over the years I developed an affinity to covering it up. I revel in my standard book nerd appearance. The tattoo, of Egyptian imagery, makes me feel not so standard like there’s more to my bookish look than meets the eye. The beauty of it is that few people see it.

Keeping my tattoo hidden for the most part is a way of keeping a part of myself from others.

These are the days of overexposure, any celebrity with nude pics or a sex tape or embarrassed YouTube sensation can tell you that. So now more than ever I understand where my former roommate, now one of my best friends can wear the hajib and not feel trapped as many a modern women in her daisy dukes come back to life and chiffon shirt over a bra might think.

It’s a way of keeping something sacred in an overexposed world