It's rather interesting how we do things to either identify with others or perhaps show our submission.
Many Muslim women will choose to wear head scarves in order to do one or
the other or both. I've heard some argue that they don't believe God
requires them to cover their hair, however, they want to wear scarves in
order to identify themselves as Muslims.
Probably the same with Amish and Mennonite women who cover their hair.
I think the Taliban required a fist-length beard for Afghani men in order to identify with proper Islamic standards.
And, if memory serves, there are Old Testament rules about how Israelite men were to keep their beards as well as the requirement for circumcision.
I'm currently reading Fortunate Sons by Liel Leibovitz and
Matthew Miller. It's about "the 120 Chinese boys who came to America,
went to school, and revolutionized an ancient civilization." The plan
was that these 12-14 year old boys would be educated in American high
schools and universities such as Yale and possibly study at military
academies so that China could learn about technology and military might
so they wouldn't always be dependent on western imports and could grow
and defend themselves properly. (This was 1872, by the way.) These
boys were to remain stateside for 15 years before heading home. (I've
not read far enough in the book to see if they stayed that long.
Presently the first high school graduates, who'd been in the US for
about five years, are beginning studies at Yale.)
Reading some of the cultural differences made me smile especially since
one lady, in a display of motherly affection I suppose, kissed the boy
who was staying in her house. This boy had only bowed his head four
times to his own mother as a way of saying goodbye for his fifteen year
travel and he later wrote that he had not been kissed since infancy
prior to this New England lady kissing his cheek! Of course the other
Chinese boys giggled at this public display of affection.
Anyway, I digress. The reason this book reminded me of hijabs and Jewish
beards, ways we identify with others and/or submit was talk of the queue,
the hairstyle that Chinese men at this time were forced to wear in
order to show their submission to the Qing Dynasty. I remember the boys
wanted to blend in more with their American peers as their Chinese
robes and long braids were cause for teasing. Their Chinese sponsor was
able to get permission for them to wear western clothes, but they could
not cut their hair. They were allowed to hide the braids in hats or
under their clothes, however.
I like this book because I have also learned some about Confucian
teachings. Did you realize before they were made to submit to Qing
queues, most Han Chinese wore long hair because Confucius said we
inherit our hair from our ancestors so we should not damage it?
Can you think of other ways (e.g., hairstyles, clothes, circumcision) that we show outward identification and/or submission?