A Christian blogger is wearing a hijab for Lent to remind herself what it feels like to be “on the margins of society.”
In an interview on CNN’s Newsroom, Jessey Eagan explained her motivations behind the experiment and what she hoped to gain from her 40 days in a hijab.
“Well, honestly, I came up with the idea the night before Lent started, and my husband was already in bed and I was on the couch. I said, ‘Hey, what if I wore hijab for Lent?’ And we talked about it, and we decided, I decided that I was putting on the practice of hospitality by stepping into the shoes of another person, just to kind of give a glimpse into what their public life is like. I wanted to do that to remind myself what it feels like to be on the margins of society…I’m doing this so I can remind myself to better love neighbors, strangers, and enemies.”
In another interview with BuzzFeed, Eagan is also quoted as saying that, in the future, she wants to “darken” her complexion in order to experience what it is like to be a dark-skinned Muslim compared to a white-skinned Muslim. Eagan initially praised the interview as a “great article,” but she is now denying the quote on her blog:
“I do not plan on ‘darkening my skin.’ Can we just move past that now? Thanks”
Eagan might be well-intentioned, but her experiment gets into really tricky subjects of white privilege, Islamophobia in America, and the sort of social experiments that end with Tyra Banks or Gwyneth Paltrow crying in a fat suit. Spending 40 days wearing a hijab does not give a white Christian the same experience of living a lifetime as a Muslim in America. Praising people like Eagan and putting them on CNN, rather than listening to real Muslim women’s life experiences, is completely backwards, and classifying Muslims as people “on the margins of society” is just wrong, considering Islam is the world’s second largest religion.
Jessey Eagan will be writing about all 40 days of Lent on her blog, including her interview with CNN here.