“I always say- to be a Hijabi you are simultaneously invisible and hyper-visible. Sometimes, I wish to simply exist- to afford the simple privilege of just being.”
Barâa is pictured in the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). As a humanity and art history student she spends a lot of time there. She also works part time at a local NGO. What’s most important to Barâa is staying passionate. She told me to stay passionate she needs to believe in the work she’s doing, and part of that is making sure the things she does helps others. When I asked Barâa how she thinks she’s perceived she told me, “I do not think I am ever fully comfortable. In non-Muslim spaces I am often trying to break stereotypes and defy peoples expectations of a religious person or specifically a Muslim woman. To always be called a trailblazer and the first Hijabi to do something is frankly exhausting and places a massive burden on my shoulders. I think people in the mainstream perceive me as breaking barriers, in a way that is nice, but in another, every behaviour is attributed to this part of my identity. In Muslim spaces, especially more traditional ones, I am perceived as a rule breaker, again not in a good way. I do not fulfill the expectations of a traditionally good Muslim woman. I often pray in the main area of a mosque aka the “men’s area.” I refuse to stay quiet if women are being underrepresented. Basically, I think I am always defying the expectations Muslim or non-Muslim communities place on me and it is exhausting and sometimes lonely."
What makes you laugh so much it hurts?
"I wish I can say something more profound but I love a dank relatable meme."
What is one thing you know for sure?
"In fear of being too sentimental, the one thing I know for sure is I should expect constant flux. If everything is always changing, it means you cannot be too attached, cannot be too sad, and humbly, cannot be too happy."