For a minute, it felt good, somewhat thrilling, to walk down Main Street exposed. I zipped past the family-friendly brunch district, footloose and fancy free.

I’m a Muslim woman who’s worn a head covering for more than two decades, and I had decided to take my headscarf off for one sunny morning.

Something about showing off my hair to the world made me walk a little taller, with confidence and a devil-may-care attitude. Strolling into a local cafe in Upstate New York, running my fingers through my freshly blown locks, it was as if I were starring in my own Pantene commercial.

But no one looked. There were no sideways glances or quizzical stares. Without my hijab wrapped around my head and pinned tightly under my chin, I was nothing special. I no longer stood out as the oddity or the outsider. Without that thin piece of fabric, I was just like everyone else waiting in line, blending into the background with my Americano and blueberry muffin.