Although I don't wear niqab (the face-veil), I have a lot of respect for women who do. I really enjoyed this article in the Times by Fatima Barkatulla, regular columnist on SISTERS, the magazine for 'fabulous Muslim women', setting right people's misconceptions about niqab and the people that wear them:
None of the niqab-wearing women who I know, wear it because they have been forced to. They see it as an act of devotion to their Creator: the culmination of a spiritual journey. In fact most of them are women who were born and brought up in the UK; many are White or Afro-Caribbean Muslim converts to Islam who have chosen to observe it. The hijab, niqab and abaya are outer garments and are worn only when outdoors or in the presence of men who are not close relatives and so, contrary to popular belief, underneath their robes, in family and female-only settings Muslim women are often very fashion conscious and outgoing. They dress in everyday clothing; they get their hair done, go on holiday and even buy lingerie!
You can read the whole article here