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Cloaked & Concealed

We all have that one ‘friend’ who only chooses to confirm dates and deadlines with us, who selectively uses us as their backup Google Calendar, but chooses to laugh and share their life – and be a concerned, caring human – with someone else.

 

Autumn has fallen. Halloween is over. Thanksgiving is coming. The Black Friday giants have already geared up for profit-making promotions.

 

The velvet boots come out, the warm socks come on, the coats come on as layers, the fleece jackets begin to be worn.

 

Coats replace jean jackets, sleeves blanket arms, and thick trousers breathe warm air for the legs.

 

I replace my headscarf in the autumn, swapping it for a warmer alternative and winter colors.

 

I wear neutral nudes on my head, to match my olive skin.

 

Those who wear scarves as part of their spiritual faith know that there are usually only two reactions of people who see your scarf: they either smile too much, letting you know that they understand and respect your decisions, or spurn far off to avoid any eye contact or interaction at all. Smiling or shunning, and nothing in between.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the summa cum laude graduate.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the Honors College-admitted lady.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the AP Scholar.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl who was asked to write her AP English teacher’s wedding toast.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl with blackening hulks beneath her peanut-shaped jet-black eyes.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl who switched schools her senior year of high school.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl who applied to forty-seven colleges the same year as the one during which she relocated to a new high school.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl who’s curious to know what the sea sounds like and oceans smell like underwater.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl who tries to smile as much as possible to everyone to come off as a sweet, regular person – just like everyone else.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see that I’m not an alien from another planet, that I’m human just like them, with needs and wants and unfulfilled desires.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl who loves to carve pumpkins, go cliff-diving, ski, play Monopoly, or build gingerbread houses, even though she’s never done any of these activities.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl longing for a smile or a mere glance of warmth.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl who likes composing poetry from time to time but still struggles to write one line of haiku.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl whose high school counselor doubted her math abilities and recommended her to stay away from Honors Algebra – who didn’t believe in her potential.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the Berkeley girl. Berkeley doesn’t define who I am but it is indubitably a significant part of what makes me me.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl who struggles with finding a balance between work and life, between perfectionism and punctuality, between sleep and paper submissions.

 

When others look me, they don’t see the girl whose heart skips a beat every time she drives up mountainous hills, still learning to cope with driving on high ground.

 

When others look at me, they don’t see the girl who’s trying to raise her standard of giving instead of her standard of living.

 

Do nuns not don veils to protect their faith? Why are they never frowned upon?

 

Does Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric truly work to hypnotize some vulnerable sectors of the public into an anti-Muslim trance?

 

Do pearls not guard their value by hiding in the shell of the clam?

 

Are bodies equivalent to books that must be judged by their cover? If so, my hair cover should impress, not depress.

 

Does hair – or the concealment thereof – determine a person’s worth, character, or moral disposition?

 

Does my scarf affect my values – your values?

 

When others look at me, a scarf is all they see. A veil that guards the black hair beneath.

 

When others look at me, they look away.

 

And I respect that.

 

But I keep on walking.

 

 

 

Melody A. Chang

UC Berkeley '19

As a senior undergraduate, I seek out all opportunities that expand my horizons, with the aim of developing professionally and deepening my vision of how I can positively impact the world around me. While most of my career aims revolve around healthcare and medicine, I enjoy producing content that is informative, engaging, and motivating.  In the past few years, I have immersed myself in the health field through working at a private surgical clinic, refining my skills as a research assistant in both wet-lab and clinical settings, shadowing surgeons in a hospital abroad, serving different communities with health-oriented nonprofits, and currently, exploring the pharmaceutical industry through an internship in clinical operations.  Career goals aside, I place my whole mind and soul in everything that I pursue whether that be interacting with patients in hospice, consistently improving in fitness PR’s, tutoring children in piano, or engaging my creativity through the arts. Given all the individuals that I have yet to learn from and all the opportunities that I have yet to encounter in this journey, I recognize that I have much room and capacity for growth. Her Campus is a platform that challenges me to consistently engage with my community and to simultaneously cultivate self-expression. 
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