OREGON – As wearing hijab in today’s America is perceived by many as a bit challenging, Elhum Oskui is battling misconceptions about her hijab and religion every day as she goes to work out at Oregon State University’s Dixon Recreation Center.
“We’re allowed to be active. We’re allowed to be in public. We’re allowed to be educated,” Oskui told Albany Democrat Herald on Tuesday, February 14.
Appearing in her hijab, Oskui hopes to show other Muslim women that it’s OK to work out at gyms, while simultaneously countering stereotypes about Muslim women.
Growing up in Eugene, she said many people assume wearing hijab makes her oppressed. For her, it’s a way to avoid being objectified that she finds empowering.
“(Muslim women wearing a hijab) are not trying to impress anyone with our bodies,” she said.
“We’re trying to impress people with our actions,” she said.
Oskui, 28, said she has been going to the gym frequently since she turned 18. She added that her husband wouldn’t care if she chose not to wear a hijab.
“I could take my scarf off if I wanted to. I’m not wearing it for my husband, I’m wearing it for myself.”
Oskui, who has an economics degree from the University of Oregon, sees that being a visible Muslim woman has helped her to clear misperceptions about Islam and counter stereotypes.
“Deep down inside I know Islam is a loving and peaceful religion and the way the media portrays it is not how it should be. They pick out the minority that is not truly practicing what the religion is about,” she said.