PORTRAIT SERIES: FEMININITY, EMPOWERMENT AND HEADWEAR
Posted on 13 March 2017
“I made my decision one Saturday almost 10 years ago. I was on my last year of dental school, and the last two years, I had been missing something in my life. I wrote to my girlfriends and prepared them for the fact that they would probably notice me looking a little differently by the time I showed up for school Monday morning – meaning I would be wearing a scarf. A piece of fabric that now completed me, but which would turn out to be a topic of conversation for many. Did you get married? Did your parents make you? You’ll never get a job as a dentist with that rag around your head?
Yeah, I’d say, lots of people had an opinion, and they weren’t shy about speaking up. I answered all their questions patiently, but very occasionally, I would get tired of repeating myself – no, I don’t wear the scarf when I bathe, no, I haven’t been forced into an arranged marriage, etc.
And indeed, my first job interview was a little nerve-wracking. I had just completed dental school, and that particular year, great jobs weren’t exactly growing on trees. I walked in with a big smile and my white scarf. The two owners of the clinic looked a little surprised, we had spoken on the phone, but it was obvious to me that they hadn’t expected me to look like that.
I got the job and remember my first day clearly. 67-year-old Erling with a broken tooth. I walked into the waiting room and called him back. He gave me a strange look when I introduced myself as the new dentist who was now going to help him with his broken tooth. Where are you from? He asked. From Copenhagen, I answered. No, I mean really, from where? Obviously, I knew what 67-year-old Erling meant, but I answered: born and raised in Frederiksberg.
Then he asked again, carefully, "I mean like your background?" Ohhhh, I answered, I have a Turkish background. I guess that’s good enough, he answered! So, where are you from, I asked. I’m from here in Svinninge, was the answer. I guess that’s good enough too, was my comment. Erling started to laugh, and somehow that moment became significant for my dentist career. Meeting people with an open mind and a smile, but also have the courage to dish it out.”
Aysun Hayta Bokhari
The portrait series "Femininity, Empowerment, and Headwear” is a collaboration between Helen Latifi Headwear and United Colors of Denmark