For anyone who knows me personally, they know I love to dabkeh; a Middle-Eastern line dance. There is a certain feeling of empowerment when you’re able to really celebrate your culture – even though you’ve never been back home. The last time I was in Lebanon, I was five years old. There is a huge void I try to fill by being as closely knit as possible to my culture. That includes food, dance, and traditions. My grandmother made sure she taught us how to dabkeh and dance to Arabic music at an early age. Safe to say, it really stuck with us and by us I mean my entire family. It is truly one of my pride and joys, though it may be mediocre to someone one else.
Leading the dabkeh line at a Palestinian henna party was what led me to having my first (and only) scarf thrown at my legs. Yup; a five-dollar, H&M black scarf, thrown right at my legs in a room full of women. At that exact moment, my mom pulled me off the line and went charging for the woman who’d thrown the scarf. I was in disbelief. I was leading a women’s dabkeh line at a separated event with men on the other side of the hall. I immediately tried calming my mom down, until I looked down at my dress. Had I really done this to myself? Did I bring this embarrassment onto myself and my mom? No, I thought. My knees are not 3ab (inappropriate). Women blame themselves for so much of what occurs in their lives. Why should I have to blame myself for what wasn’t okay to someone else? That was her issue – not mine.
Excuse me while I allow my wardrobe to be mine and mine alone
What may be ‘3ab’ for you, may not be ‘3ab’ to someone else. The truth is, we were all raised in different households with different leniencies. We may all follow one book, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow the same exact culture or traditions. Our parents work so hard to raise us and teach us right from wrong and it is an insult to them when some random person tries to discipline me, because they feel my parents’ job wasn’t done properly. My family may be OK with an open back wedding dress whereas yours may think fabric covering all parts of your body is more appropriate – and that’s OK. But what is not okay, is when we so invalidly and heavily impose our views onto someone else and expect them to follow.
Being a woman is so excruciatingly difficult to begin with. Society imposes ideologies of what we should or shouldn’t do. The government imposes their thoughts about what we should or shouldn’t do with our bodies. Our men attempt to impose chores or wifely duties they believe we should do. Our employers impose their rules on how much money we should or shouldn’t make. Excuse me while I allow my wardrobe to be mine and mine alone. My closet is mine and I fill it (too often) with things that make me feel good. That shouldn’t be your concern – unless you’re filling it up for me, and even then, your intake on my wardrobe should be limited.