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Nourjah Nourjahen Jemaa 

Tunisia

She puts her veil on last thing.

She must make sure that it covers the back of her neck.

She wraps it twice, so it covers her double chin.

But she fixes it, so it does not look like it is covering a big part of her face.

Now, she is ready to leave.

She looks at the mirror again.

This is a ritual. She asks herself the same question every day: “Do I look friendly?”.

It is silly. She tries to convince herself that she does look friendly.

She makes sure her smile is extra big.

She is feeling a bit sick and tired today. But the moment she leaves the building, she puts her chin up and makes sure to smile.

She hopes that by doing this the answer to her question is positive.

That people, when they see her, they would not think of her as a stereotypical hijab and instead as a friendly person.

She sometimes has her earphones in.

She hopes people think she is normal:

she listens to music like everybody else. She is not that different. How   different can you be if you have Spotify?
If it is a cold day, she puts on her pink hat with little pearls and her pink gloves. She wants to look approachable even when the temperature is below zero and she might not be able to move her lips to smile.

It is hard for her not to focus on these details when she sees someone losing their smile when they see her. She cannot help but blame herself. “Did I scare them? Was it my resting face again?”

She tells herself for the millionth time not to overthink and overread people's faces, but she can’t.

She covers herself with her fluffy, red blanket and promises herself not to think about this again, like she does every night.

She promises that tomorrow she will not pay attention to anything.

Her alarm rings in the morning. She wakes up and goes to her closet. She remembers her friend's comment about how dark colors make her look a bit scary. She takes out her pink sweater.

She feels sad she can't wear her blue sweater.

Her friend told her many times that the matching headscarf makes her look like a typical terrorist. She tells herself that it's okay.

She tells herself that the pink sweater is better anyway.

She reminds herself to look cheerful and happy, forgetting the promise she made to herself the previous night and all the nights before.




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