Azellia A. Shafira Taught Postgraduate, Business School 

Part of Shifting the Lens: A celebration of cultural diversity at Imperial 

“I feel self-assured and confident because I wear the hijab”

Since I started at Imperial, people have asked me a lot about the hijab and why I wear it. I love to share this part of my story.  

There are no rules in my country about how you should dress, but there are rules in some families. My father’s extended family is more conservative – there’s an unspoken agreement that when girls hit puberty, they have to start wearing the hijab. My mum’s side is more free, there’s no pressure. Growing up, neither of my parents wanted to force me the way that some parents do. 

I had the liberty to choose, and the time to learn more about it. I didn’t choose to be Muslim – I was Muslim from when I was born – but deciding whether to wear the hijab was an opportunity to explore my faith.  

It is cultural as well as religious – some people wear the hijab because others do. I used to wear it sometimes and sometimes not. I had a wakeup call when I was 16, the night after I’d acted in a play at high school. After the play I felt like I was done exploring, and that I could commit to wearing the hijab – because it is a commitment. Sometimes you may feel you have beautiful hair, and you want people to see it – but I made a promise to myself and to Allah. 

I feel self-assured and confident because I wear the hijab. I feel I have more freedom – it’s something I chose for myself. My journey is a beautiful one and I’m happy to share it. 

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