What do you know about Muslim women and the hijab? Do you understand what the hijab denotes or rather represents? Do you have misconceptions about it – and believe that it is rather a piece of fabric that takes away a woman’s confidence instead of enhancing it, or it is a symbol of culture? Many questions surround the hijab and the women around the world who either choose to or are forced to wear it. It has become quite the hot topic in the western world where Muslim women – models, bloggers and entrepreneurs – are making a mark for themselves and changing the impression of what the headgear represents. It is about time we recognized a culture that has for many years been under-represented and misunderstood.
Firstly, the hijab is more than just sophisticated or a mere simple headwear; it is a symbol of modesty, and has religious and cultural significance in the Islamic world. Let’s be honest, the fashion and beauty industry have certainly not been known for modesty or diversity until quite recently. If you haven’t been a part of what’s going on in the western world at the moment, this article will give you a mini update.
Discussing diversity in the fashion and beauty industry was non existent, until a few years ago. Women of colour, age, race, ethnicity and even human preferences and behavior were not included in campaigns and even addressed in the least. Inclusivity certainly took its time to show up. But it here to stay and is now also enveloping women of Islamic, especially those who cover their heads.
The hijab appeared on the fashion runways for the very first time in the fall of 2018 (2017). Unfortunately however, the models were not Muslim themselves, which takes away from the honest representation of the culture. This brought upon little outrage but certainly made waves of attention and spiked the rise of Muslim models in the industry to take a stand for themselves. And a stand they certainly took. Halima Aiden is the first Muslim to have landed a Nike campaign. Kadija Diawara is a stunning model for many high end fashion brands. Mariah Idrissi was featured on the cover of Teen Vogue, Elle and Marie Clare. Ikram Abdi Omar walked the London Fashion Week runway.
In order to accept these diverse advances, it must be understood that beauty comes in all ages, sizes, skin tones, genders and religious preferences. Once that’s an accepted norm, the rest is pretty simple. Anyone from anywhere can personify beauty and fashion; and that is exactly how it should be. There’s no denying negativity that is encountered every today, but it is important to soldier on in this path in order to have a positive impact and make a change. Negativity and stereotypes exist because of lack of knowledge and understanding. Therefore it is vital to create awareness of the importance of inclusivity in all aspects of fashion and beauty.
Here also lies the opportunity to educate the world about what the hijab symbolizes. It isn’t an item to be sexualized. It is a part of the Muslim faith. The women who choose to wear it often feel strong, and beautiful and confident. They take pride in their sophisticated and stylish headwear, and instead of feeling demeaned, feel rather powerful.
Aden once said that we are all born to stand out; that nobody is born to blend in at an interview and this certainly rings true. Her Nike campaign is set to hit shelves this year and has paved the way of other Muslim women who are in the modeling industry, to land great fashion and beauty campaigns. The world’s first Muslim modeling agency – Underwraps, was a recent addition amongst the thousands of others that do no represent women in hijab. For its founder, the journey hasn’t been easy but hard work definitely pays off. She understands that it is important to receive attention, dismiss and break barriers and any type or kind of negative association along with it.
Amena Khan was the first hijab wearing model to have been casted in a L’Oreal hair care campaign. Now, many might raise their eyebrows at this notion or even find it ridiculous but in interviews conducted with Khan, she admitted that even though she does cover her hair when outdoors, her hair is just as important to her as someone who does not. Like everyone else, she shampoos and conditions it, nourishes it with oils and hair masks and the campaign was meant to highlight diversity as well as inclusivity even if it were someone who covered her head in public. The campaign received plenty of attention and also got the ball rolling on other brands like CoverGirl, H&M, DKNY and Dolce & Gabbana giving women in hijab the opportunity to be featured and also creating collections meant for them.
This goes to prove that there is a definite demand in terms of fashion and beauty for the Muslim fashionista. Collections by the mentioned designers and fashion labels above included modern looks with rules of modesty, and this is just the beginning. Hama Tajima is a British Japanese blogger and now fashion designer who is redefining the hijab with her workmanship. Her stylish lifestyle and take on modest fashion has thousands of others following in on her footsteps and recreating the same in their own way.
Question is, is it a passing trend or a powerful sense of style that is here to stay? Much like inclusivity in the makeup industry, this isn’t just a trend. This is a powerful representation that is becoming more and more recognized as we speak, and also proving to be an inspiration to others around the world, including Sri Lanka. The ideology is thought provoking and opens conversations about the stigma that surrounds the hijab and hopefully will break such misconceptions in time to come.