"It's a dangerous business, going out your door.
You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet,
there's no knowing where you might be swept off to..."
--J.R.R. Tolkein

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bathroom Sign

This picture was taken at a seaside restaurant in the port city of Berbera, Somaliland. I've seen some odd bathroom signs, but this is definitely the best. Is the concept of "woman" here just a pair of eyes in a lump of laundry?

Not necessarily. Like most things, the question has a complicated answer. There are many women here who wear the niqab, the strip of cloth covering the face as well as the hair. Not everyone chooses to wear dress this way, though. As a parallel, think of the sign on most women's bathrooms in the US: a person wearing a skirt shaped like a triangle. We don't all wear triangle skirts.

Here's an odd nugget: It is absolutely non-negotiable that I cover up my hair, neck, and chest but it's okay to show my arms (for a full discussion on what I have to wear to work, see my earlier post on 'How to Dress for Success'). Why, exactly? I have no idea. When I was traveling in Syria and Egypt, it was definitely more important to cover up the arms than the hair.

It goes to show that the issue of covering hair in other countries is definitely more nuanced that it may seem.


  1. a nice picture and good comment! How about toilet for men?

  2. Interesting observation... I especially like the triangle skirt for women!