See the scarf on my head on the pictures below? That rag – and it is truly a rag, yellowed by time and wear as it is, torn from two corners, and roughened in its texture by one too many washes – is one of my most valuable belongings. That rag has traveled with me across continents, worn on my person in protests from Oslo, to Cairo, and to Ohio. That rag has been photographed in a Norwegian newspaper as one of my five favorite scarves. It has been stowed away in my closet at times, but I always end up remembering its awesomeness after a while, again attempting to incorporate it in my daily outfits. Why am I gushing over this particular old scarf? It represents my political coming of age.
The last half of 2001 was truly a time of personal upheaval. The very days and weeks immediately succeeding the fall of the Twin Towers and the declaration of a war on terror would shake my previously mostly apolitical world (I mean apolitical relatively; I had grown up with the TV tuned to news more frequently than cartoons, political discussions constantly over my head, and the peace prize event following the Oslo Accords sticking to my mind as one of my first political memories). It prompted me to question – to inquire about the conditions under which such a horrifying incident could occur – which led to the unleashing of a torrent of information, thanks to the then new, exciting, and uncritically utilized internet. I was shocked, overwhelmed, and fascinated by this previously unknown world of intrigue, injustice, and cynicism. Too much to handle at once, it brought about the phenomenon of the newly initiated, the zealous but ignorant; I flirted halfheartedly with political extremism in thought and rhetoric, something that would gradually be brought back to the equilibrium of moderation as I gained deeper knowledge and developed a mind to understand it all.
The lasting, positive implications of this time are many, however. A passion for politics and for understanding the world around me was lit, making political science the natural choice for both college and graduate studies (when I was little I used to dream about becoming a scientist – I guess a political scientist is a happy compromise). Perhaps as important and formative; I was introduced to activism. The previously mentioned scarf that I’m wearing on my head on the pictures below was gifted to me around this time by a teacher who used to wear it in street protests when he was younger, and who knew how much the cause meant to me. Aside from this awesome gesture, his tales of protest and thoughts on justice, action, and voice greatly inspired my nascent activist spirit.
Because so much of what I do today and what I aspire to do in the future was born out of the tumultuous time during which I received this scarf, it has a very special place in my heart. Add that to its inherent symbolism and its history before I took it over, and it becomes almost invaluable. While my leftist teacher may have forgotten me and his gift a long time ago, his scarf will continue to be worn around my head or neck till it falls apart, and his lessons will stay with me forever.
Hatta: vintage, faux fur: mom’s closet, studded leopard cardigan: Urban Outfitters, graphic tank: River Island, metallic jeans: Urban Outfitters, bag: Gina Tricot (Norway), metallic sneakers: ASOS, accessories: Ebay, ASOS, Urban Outfitters.