New York City resident Ayesha Ahmed knew wearing a hijab would affect her life before she started wearing one. But no one ever warned her that she would be confused for a nun at least once a month.
“It doesn’t really matter where I am or what I’m doing, I get asked if I’m a nun unsettlingly often,” says Ahmed. “It feels pretty off to me considering there are a great deal of nuns represented in the media and I look absolutely nothing like them in most ways.”
“The only thing I can conclude is that people legitimately don’t know what a hijab is?” she added. “Do they not know there are other religions besides Catholicism?”
This past month, Ahmed attended a benefit concert in Brooklyn and was unsurprised when a white woman with bangs and a crop top approached her to ask if she likes “being a virgin for God”.
“I was basically forced to explain that I’m not celibate and I don’t ‘relate to the women in The Sound of Music’,” says Ahmed. “I said, ‘I’m Muslim and choose to wear a hijab for personal reasons.’ She responded, ‘Oh so you’re like a nun from a different country.’ Nope!”
Ahmed explains that this has been happening ever since she chose to wear a hijab.
“I don’t even question it anymore,” said Ahmed, with an empty look in her eyes. “This has been happening consistently since I started wearing it back in Pennsylvania.”
Her roommate, Maggie Lewis, thought she was a nun for the entire first semester of college.
“I never understood why she was always buying me rosaries and making Sister Act references,” says Ahmed.
It wasn’t until Lewis told her she was “really cool for a nun” that Ahmed realized she had to clear things up.
“She apologized a lot which was nice – we all make mistakes, I guess,” says Ahmed. “Then she said, ‘Sorry, I meant you were really cool for a hijabi’ then wished me a happy Hanukkah before leaving for winter break.”
When reached for comment, Maggie Lewis wanted to clear the air.
“It’s hard to make sure you’re always being politically correct these days,” says Lewis. “But maybe if she wore a different color it would be easier for us? Just a thought!”