I just read an interesting post called The Impact on Our Kids: Internalizing Those Judging Eyes. Even though the situation discussed here was one experienced with Islam, I found it easy to identify with.
I was walking outside with my daughter last week in a neighborhood we used to live in, back when we lived a conservative Muslim life. It was a hot sunny day, and she was wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and tight pants. There was nobody out on the street except a few teenage boys playing basketball. They were down at the other end, and they weren’t looking at us.
“I wonder how many Muslims are looking at me right now, and saying, ‘tif!‘,” my daughter said to me.
I was immediately shocked and dismayed. What on earth had brought that on?—there was nobody near us, even! And why would she be worrying about people peering out at us through their curtains, this early in the morning?? But her intonation of the “tif!” was dead on, unfortunately. She was reproducing an expression that she had heard many times from her father, his friends, and his relatives, especially when they were discussing girls’ behavior that they strongly disapproved of.
It’s funny, because I do this too. I go out in short shorts and a tank top, and when I pass someone dressed like a fundamentalist, I automatically wonder what that person is thinking of me. Because I remember being the one doing the judging, seeing women in short shorts and tank tops and thinking how immodest and worldly they were, how they were encouraging males’ lustful glances and leading men astray. And now I’m that worldly woman.
Of course, I don’t let that affect how I act or how I dress. It’s just something that’s there in my mind, as I feel the silent judgement I remember meting out.