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One of the reasons why I haven’t been more active on this blog lately is because I have started a new job that is keeping me very busy. There are of course many new things happening, as always when one starts something new, but the one thing I would like to talk about today is headcovering at work.

After my marriage, I have been wearing tichels (Jewish-style headscarf) on and off. First only on the weekends, then also to work. During the end of my time at my old job I covered sometimes nearly full-time for a whole week, then again another week I didn’t wear anything at all. The reactions of my old colleagues ranged from “WTF??” to “what a nice scarf”, but mostly it was indifference. But I never wore any covering when I had work-related dealings with other people. Chicken that I am 😉

Along came job interviews. And like probably many many others, I debated with myself for a long time what to do about the covering. I decided not to put any picture on the application which gave me more time to think about it. Finally, I decided to go with a bandana to my interview, but at the last moment I got scared and took it off. The next one I did without even planning to wear one.

I got the job. To start after my long holiday in Israel. And during my time in Israel I covered the whole time and it just felt so right. So when I came back, I took the decision to continue covering. Still, as I had been at the interview without a covering, I felt awkward. I thought they might think I had wanted to trick them into hiring me without knowing about the covering. Under false pretenses. My first few weeks I went to work with a bandana, a small headband or some other partial covering as a sort of compromise. But I didn’t feel beautiful and it kept coming off. Finally, after about a month or six weeks I started to wear a full tichel in the colors and styles that I experimented with in Israel. The first day I was very much afraid of the reactions, but on the other hand I felt also so beautiful.

This is the total sum of the reactions I got (each point represents one incident with one person, not more):

  • "That scarf is so beautiful."
  • "That color looks so nice on you."
  • "Ah, today it is green, I liked the red more."
  • "Since when do you cover your hair?"
  • "How many scarves do you have, you wear so many different ones!"
  • (my Muslim hijab-wearing colleague to another colleague) "Now there are two of us!!"
  • (a Muslim hat-wearing student) "You look so beautiful, but may I ask, why do you cover your hair, are you Muslim?"
  • And a discussion with said Muslim colleague about whether or not to put a picture on a job application and what types of reactions we have experienced in the streets and elsewhere.

But mostly: Just no reaction at all. Really! What a relief (and what unnecessary headache)!