One of the purposes of the hijab is also to identify Muslim women, he said.

It used to really bother me when I saw a woman covering her hair in America; I assumed she's oppressed by her husband, family or tradition.

But then I realized something: Hijabis in America have it completely different from those in Iran, who are forced by the government; in Saudi Arabia, where covering is the norm; in Turkey, where the hijab is actually discouraged; or in Egypt, where many women cover because of social pressures. In America, women cover their hair, or not cover, because they have the freedom to make that choice.

Are there situations here where the woman is actually being forced by her family or obligated to cover? Yes.

Are there Western women here who feel the need to dress in a certain way or get surgically enhanced to fit in? Sure.

Now when I see a woman in a hijab, I think she could take it off, but she chooses not to, just like my mom. I respect that choice.

So when you come across a hijabi in America, remember that, more likely than not, she's covering her hair as part of her faith and she's doing it freely because this country gives her choices that Muslim countries will not.

As for me and Uncle Beautiful, we made peace last summer when I visited Cairo. He wishes I would cover, but I know he never saw me as hanging meat in a metaphorical butcher shop.

He has always thought of me as a diamond.

MONA SHADIA is a reporter for the Huntington Beach Independent. An Egyptian American, she was born and raised in Cairo and now lives in Orange County. Her column includes various questions and issues facing Muslims in America.

Twitter: @MonaShadia