The “Abaya” Dilemma.

Few days ago I posted  a poll on my Instagram, to find out whether women -in Bahrain, and Bahrain Only- felt a difference in the way they were treated, based on whether they wore an Abaya or just regular western clothes. The reason behind my question, is that I did feel a certain difference, and wanted to see if other women felt the same. The response was overwhelming and shocking at the same time. It was an eye opener because: Yes most people felt there was a difference, however, different people had different reasons and explanations. So yes most women thought that people would treat you differently, at malls, in coffeeshops, and everywhere else in the island, but some thought that wearing an Abaya was a privilege, and others saw it as a curse. What was interesting however, is that some of the women who don’t wear abaya, thought of it as a privilege, and some of those who do wear it, thought of it as a curse.

Let me clarify: I never used to wear abayas before, I just never saw myself wearing them. However, my attitude changed a year or so ago, and I started wearing an abaya, from time to time, here in Bahrain. So here I am, the same person, frequenting the same places, the only difference is that now I would have an Abaya on. I sensed a little change in the way people were treating me. The difference wasn’t a favorable one though, I felt that the same  people at the grocery store now smiled less, were less nicer, less helpful and automatically assumed that I spoke no English. Of course this wasn’t everywhere, BUT I have noticed this change in almost all places I was frequenting. It is almost like if wearing the Abaya made them look less of me. 

Therefore, this became some sort of social experiment that I was now conducting. I added a scarf to the mix, and it ruined any trace of friendliness that there ever was towards any stranger, it simply made things worse. This was a shocking revelation to me, because we live in an Arab, Islamic country, and you would think it would be just the opposite.  I am definitely not generalizing here, but this was my own experience.

When I asked friends and families about their opinion, I realized from some of their messages, that they actually felt just the opposite. They felt that women who wear Abayas were treated better than those who don’t. At grocery stores, at government agencies, at petrol stations …etc. They felt that wearing an Abaya was some kind of badge of reverence that women wore in the gulf, that immediately granted them RESPECT. Most of these women however, NEVER wore abayas, they were JUST assuming from what they have seen or heard. 

I found this extremely interesting for two reasons: 

1- I still can’t fathom why or how the abaya can determine how I am treated by fellow Arabs, in an Arab and Islamic country – or even expats for that matter. 

2-  No matter how strong and clear our ideas and opinions can seem to us, other people can have the exact opposite ideas, and that would be based on each one’s personal experiences and stories. 

I am still not done here, and I would still love to hear YOUR experiences and YOUR opinions!!! Please spare some time to share them with me.

Thank you! 

Online Vs. On-Campus

Be Kind !!

Online or on-campus?

Which team have you been so far? Team Online, or Team on-campus?

This is a question that mothers all over Bahrain have been dwelling upon. I know friends who have been losing sleep over this matter, and some that are torn between the excruciating guilt of sending their child to school, and the agonizing guilt of keeping them at home and the fear of missing out! Guilt, guilt, guilt!

There is no right answer to this question. In the midst of the total uncertainty and the immense confusion everybody is facing right now, this question only adds insult to injury. I have been avoiding asking anyone this question because I know no matter what their answer is, it will still make them feel awkward. 

There has also been lots of finger-pointing and lots of judging going on, in both camps. “How could you send them when the virus is everywhere?” or “ You have been keeping them home for the last 9 months? They must be so bored… and their social skills must be diminishing!!”

If you are being tormented right now by this question, I would totally encourage you to forget about what other people are doing, or saying, and focus on what works best for YOU and YOUR CHILD. Each one is different, each one’s convictions are different, each one’s reasons are different, therefore it is foolish to compare your decision with someone else’s. Even though we all face the same beast: Covid 19, yet we all are reacting to it differently, with lots of caution yes, but differently nonetheless!

Ask yourself what will each choice bring you and your family? And never forget that whatever you choose, you do not have to justify it to anyone! Ultimately everyone will have a different opinion from yours, so never think too much of others and their opinions. 

Make a list of pros and cons, and write down your reasons for each one. 

Include your child in the decision-making, ask them whether they would prefer to go back to school, or continue at home? Because at the end of the day, this mainly has to do with their life. They might feel anxious and prefer staying at home, or they might be feeling anguished from being at home, isolated from friends and classmates, and obviously their opinion count the most.

For a second (and only a second) switch off your heart and use your brain, use your logic, bring fresh eyes to the situation, and see what you might have been missing? Or what things you might have been looking at from a different angle. 

Whatever you choose, do it with love, and don’t worry about what other mothers might think of you or of your mothering style! The judging game have just reached another level with Covid, among moms, so don’t worry, whatever you do , you will be wrong ;), and if you see a mom struggling with this choice.. remember: Be Kind!

Ouiam