“Researchers in anthropology have provided evidence of the unique ways in which different cultures construct and define gender.  Anthropological theory encourages a researcher to try to become a part of a given culture to better understand its norms, values, and identities, and posits that each culture will define its norms, values, and identities (such as gender) in unique ways” (DeFrancisco & Palczewski, 2007).  There have been many experiences in my life that have been influenced culturally to my self-development and self-awareness.  There is one instance, in particular that stands out, which represents gender styles culturally different from my own.

Nearing the end of my seventh grade year at Short Pump Middle School, I made friends with an Islamic girl, Sabrina, in my biology class.  We became close as we did multiple dissections as lab partners.  During the last week of school, she came up to me personally and was very nervous about telling me something.  I had no idea what it could be because we were completely comfortable with each other and had no problems whatsoever.  She told me that at the start of our eight grade year, she had to transform into a full Muslim woman, meaning she had to cover the hair on her head and wear a robe to cover her body because Islam believes that a woman’s hair is apart of her and should not be exposed.  This was the start of her transformation into something very different and also a very different human being.

I had realized that Sabrina had become culturally different than me in some ways, but was she also still similar to me?  The clothing that had to cover her hair and body is considered different than my gender style.  In those years, I was wearing sleeveless shirts, shorts and sandals to school.  The hair on my legs, arms and hair were all visible, which differed from her gender style.  One similarity we had in common before her transformation was that we were both very sarcastic.  We would say not so nice things about other people to one another, however we were being totally sarcastic.  After her transformation, we differed in that regard.  I was still sarcastic, while she was very mellow and polite to others.

Sabrina did COME FROM a culturally different society, but I was surprised by the differences that had occurred in her own self.  I was surprised by her attitude and personality shift.  It didn’t bother me that she had to cover her body because that’s what all Muslim women must do.  I learned that my culture that I grew up with was very different from Sabrina’s.  I was not forced to do anything I did not want to do.  I could be free and wear what I pleased…under school regulations that is.  If I were in her shoes, I would have made the best out of my situation.  My attitude and personality would not have changed just because of a little transformation.  I also learned that I am very lucky to have been raised the way I was by my parents.

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