I dropped out of the Homecoming court

Nominations tarnish modesty, self-worth

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I dropped out of the Homecoming court

Hadeal Rizeq

The moment I heard my name being called at Friday’s homecoming pep fest, I immediately felt like my life was over. Not just about myself as a student for participating in a high school tradition, but what this meant for me as an Arab, Muslim and hijabi.

I felt like a piece of my identity was gone; it was like the hijab I was wearing came off, and my abaya, long dress, wasn’t special. Within that moment, the innocence and sweetness I knew myself as was hard to find. I felt as if my hijab didn’t bring awareness to the beauty of my character, and let every single person in the world down.

All I could wonder as I stood up amongst my group of friends at the pep fest is, why am I flaunting my hijab? Isn’t it supposed to be the reason everyone realizes the understanding of inner beauty?  The rose I received didn’t make me feel special like it should’ve. From how scared I was of standing in the gym, I kept fiddling with my rose to the point there was only a small stem left.

I definitely understand how honorary and exciting it is for all of my friends to get closer at having the chance of becoming Homecoming queen, everyone wants to feel special. However, I did not feel relieved when my name was called. The first thing I thought about was my parents, and how they would react to their daughter taking part of a tradition focusing on the intermingling of males and females, especially from my perspective as a Muslim.

Who I show myself as with my manners and character is what allows me to preserve the honor of preserving my personality.”

— Hadeal Rizeq

There were just so many things wrong with the concept of the nomination, and one of them was the observation of somebody from the opposite gender being there to escort the nominee after her name was called. All of the people who congratulated me afterwards either in person or over text made me feel uneasy because of the experiences at the pep fest, but made me realize how I managed to set an example of self-acceptance and appreciation.

There are so many instances and wonderful realities about a girl’s identity, especially with the hijab, that will always be more rewarding than wearing the prettiest dress I have in my closet. I don’t want to go to the coronation and have that be a huge experience a huge event of my lifetime. I feel like I am dumbing myself by participating in coronation activities. I feel like the nomination isn’t going to take me far. Who I show myself as with my manners and character is what allows me to preserve the honor of preserving my personality.

The people who congratulated me and were full of glee say I was born for this. I might agree with how that honor means something in terms of people appreciating you, but we were all born to feel special and royal in any way we desire, not just in the name of king and queen.

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