I grew up in a culture where women cover their faces. There is no law requiring it, and in some parts of the country there are many women who go out in public without any facial covering, but it is extremely rare to see a woman in the media or in a prominent position with her face uncovered, and the sight of a woman with her face showing in a national magazine will provoke heated public discussion.

A traditional covering may be a heavy layer that hides the face almost completely or a lighter one that only slightly obscures the features. Girls are encouraged from an early age to start covering up, and by the age of 14 or 15 girls in some families will be questioned if they leave the house, or greet visitors other than close friends and family, with a bare face. But most of the time there is no need to remind girls to follow the tradition, because they can see that women who opt to go uncovered are often pitied and considered unlikely to succeed in marriage or professional life.

princessmaskMany women embrace the tradition with fervor and say that covering their faces makes them feel empowered, that they feel more womanly and even virtuous when it is harder for others to see their faces. In fact one common term for the covering is ‘face’, as in ‘I have to put on my face’, which is indicative of how thoroughly women can come to identify themselves with the coverings they wear. The most common name, however, is ‘make-up’, and is connected to the idea of tidiness and properness, as in making up a bed by neatly covering it in sheets and blankets.

~ by lolarusa on September 26, 2017.

One Response to “Bare-Faced”

  1. This is brilliant. Thank you.

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