I rode the bus from one city to another. When we boarded in the capital, one young woman got on in extremely “liberated” attire for that country: she wore tight pants, a revealing tank top, and had long extensions braided into her hair.

As soon as the bus got going, she started her transformation: the biggest project was her hair—she unbraided it and removed her extensions. This took many hours. At each rest stop, she returned to the bus with her outfit a bit adjusted: first a less-conspicuous top, then a long flowy skirt. Just as we entered our destination city 8 hours later, she dawned a bui bui that covered her from head to toe, except her face.

woman in a bui bui

She had gone from one self in the city to another self for, I imagined, her family. I wondered if both of these “selves” could be “real.” Which one was real? Which one was fake? At what point along the journey did her metamorphosis reflect her true self? Was she 33% modern city girl and 67% conservative family girl? Or was it more like 50/50? Was it a shame on her that she was faking it to so many people, or a shame on us that we could not accept her as a mix?

Have you ever been guilty of faking it? I have. Sometimes in a new ward, I pretend to be more orthodox than I am—I do this by not commenting. On occasion, someone makes an outrageous statement about the state of the world, and I don’t add my two bits developed as I have traveled the world. There are times someone talks about the President and I don’t out myself as a liberal. There are other times I know people for years and never once try to give them a Book of Mormon. I generally think of these omissions as peace-keeping. I just don’t want to start a fight, so I let something slide, or allow someone to believe that I agree with them. Is it possible my bui bui-wearing friend was just placating other people by dressing as they expected her to? I don’t know. Does faking it make me bad?