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They should not display their beauty

They should not display their beauty

(Originally published in the San Diego Reader September 8, 2010.)

Over the phone, Maureen Slater sounds like a soccer mom. She uses words like “jammies” instead of pajamas and laughs at her own jokes (“I’m smarter than my husband, ha-ha-ha”), some of which aren’t really jokes (“but seriously, he’d tell you the same thing”). She lifts weights two or three times per week on a home gym set up on the patio of her Paradise Hills home. Her hands are large and strong-looking, the nails cut to the quick, and she wears one thin band of diamonds at the first knuckle of her index finger. But few people will ever see her hands.

The most the general public will see of Maureen is the amber brown of her eyes and the smudge of liner she wears beneath her lower lashes. The rest remains covered — hands, feet, face, hair, all of her — when she shops for groceries, picks up her children from school, travels to and from work, or during any of her other daily activities outside the home.

Typically, Maureen wears a black, ankle-length, robelike covering called an abaya (in conversation, she refers to it as a “coat”), a black hijab (which covers her head and hair, her shoulders, and everything else down to her knees), and a niqab (a veil) over her face, leaving only a slit for her eyes. On her hands, she wears black gloves, and on her feet, a pair of cowboy boots or Doc Martens.

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