I was talking to a friend from high school. I hadn’t seen her in decades.
She was telling me how she doesn’t like how Arab women cover their faces, so all you can see are their eyes. “How can you feel secure when all you can see are their eyes peeking out?” she asked.
All I could think of, when she asked that, was a girl I dated in high school. We went swimming one day. She dove into the water and when she came up for air, I was surprised to see her without makeup. She needed makeup to cover an otherwise blotchy red complexion.
Things are not what they seem, are they?
We All Cover Up
The other day I listed things we do to cover up what we really are:
- shoulder pads in men’s suits cover up naturally rounded shoulders.
- dental implants to cover wholes in our mouths from lost teeth.
- high heels, with shaved legs. I won’t go any further.
- toupees. Ah, we know what that’s covering up.
- deodorant. Obvious.
What isn’t covered? Almost nothing.
Why do we cover up? It’s obvious, isn’t it? Men and women wouldn’t be as attractive in their natural state.
Back To My Friend
This gets me back to my conversation with my high school friend. Yes, Arabian Peninsula women cover up their faces. But, most of us cover up one way or the other. Only nudists uncover. And they’re weirdos. Aren’t they?
By the way, do you think if my friend, who lives in Newport Beach, had a choice of a nudist or a covered up Arab woman walking through her neighborhood, she would pick the nudist?
She’d probably prefer that neither would walk through her neighborhood. But, doesn’t that speak to a yet deeper cover up? I wonder what she’s covering up. Fear? Insecurity?
I know I had a fear of Arabs with full head coverings after 9/11. Once you are in an Arab country, however, that fear quickly leaves.
Two Reasons We Cover Up
There are two basic reasons why people cover up. One is to cover up flaws. There are flaws of the flesh and flaws of the emotions.
The second reason we cover up is to separate ourselves from others.
Arabian Peninsula women cover up to separate themselves from others. The only thing I have against this is it’s hard to meet and mingle with Arabs when you are in their country. That’s troublesome. The future requires no less than our best effort at trying to communicate with each other. Covering your face and body creates a barrier of separation.
Unless you are invited by Arabs to meet Arabs, it’s not going to happen.
My family was fortunate to be doing business in the United Arab Emirates. We were befriended by our Arab friend Mohammed. We met his family, and have continued growing the relationship with him over the past two years.
We’ve met his mothers, his father, brother, sister and sister-in-law. The mothers are heavily masked, but the young ladies are not.
In talking to these younger women, my wife received the distinct impression that if it were up to them, there would be a drastic reduction in traditional head covering in public.
They too want to meet and mingle with people from other cultures.
So, what’s my verdict on what my friend said? I agree that Arabs should uncover their faces more, so that it would be easier to interact with them.
Paradoxically, I believe Americans should probably continue to cover up, so we can continue to appear more attractive than we may be.
In other words, I am not a fan of covering up, in order to create separation between humans, but I understand our attempt to cover up flaws in order to improve our appearance. For example, I’ve had a small scar removed from my right cheek. As a result I feel more comfortable with my appearance.
One last thing. Adherence to traditional dress varies across Arab societies. Most do not have eyes peeking out from a full head covering.
According to the young Arab women we met, their “favorite activity” is going to London to shop for western style clothing and cosmetics.