Nobody here is telling you to wear a hijab if you are going to Morocco. Most native Moroccan women don’t even wear burkahs. Yes, you will see them. Yes, it is simply a religious and cultural practice like some Catholics carry a rosary and some Jewish men wear a yamaka. There is nothingto feel alarmed about when seeing a woman in a hijab or burkah. All it is a religious practice, people! Instead, try one on. I even wore a Moroccan shesh and yes, it was awesome.
Moroccans love people coming to their country. The first time you are invited into a home or a store (yes, they will ask you in for tea), it may seem off putting. But don’t blow your stranger danger whistle just yet. Buddy system or groups of people are always your best bet. Even better, go with somebody who knows the proper etiquette of Moroccan homes and shops, which includes taking off your shoes at the door before entering the host’s home. Do your research and most importantly, listen to your gut. If you aren’t feeling comfortable, no need to sit through it.
Okay girls, here is where you need to keep your guard up. In Moroccan culture, as well as many other Muslim countries, looking at somebody is a very powerful thing.
If you smile at a man, they may think that is an invitation to approach you in a way you may not think is appropriate or remotely even asked for.
As an American, smiling is a habit. I dont do it because I am constantly happy, I smile at literally everything. We love to smile. We have been taught that it is rude to not at least give a friendly wave of hello to people in passing. That is not the case here.
Be cautious. I am not telling you to be stone faced throughout your trip to Morocco, but if you find yourself flashing a smile at a man who starts to approach you, put your poker face on and never ever be afraid to confront them back and tell them off.
But fear not! Many Moroccan men are lovely lovely people and yes, you can smile at them if the situation allows it! I had many amazing encounters with men who were truly great people. My family hired a private guide (if you are able to do this, I highly recommend it) named Haziz who is one of the most kind hearted, intelligent (fluent in five languages!), and passionate people I have met to date. And Amir, a silk vendor, jokingly proposed to me as I haggled my way through his store. Put your game face on and a strong guard up with a solid sense of humor and there is no way you won’t have a good time. Trust your gut, it really does know best.
I have said this time and time again, but keeping your guard up and having a good sense of humor is so vital to your time in Morocco. Whether you try to or not, you will stand out like a sore thumb and that is okay. Never be afraid to stick up for yourself and say when enough is enough. In a country like this, you have to be sure of yourself and your surroundings so if you are not comfortable, slow your roll a bit. Be polite, be kind, take the famous Moroccan hospitality given to you with graciousness, and always respect the culture.Happy travels!
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