Today is World Hijab Day! Fellow Bangladeshi American Nazma Khan created World Hijab Day to foster personal freedom of religious expression and cultural understanding by inviting women from all walks of life to experience the hijab for one day.
There is no one as visible to the outside world as a hijabi. It symbolizes someone who embraces Islam as their faith to anyone who sees them. Let me tell you from personal experience: It takes a strong person to wear the hijab because it exposes you to a lot of hatred from Islamophobia (prejudice against Muslims or Islam).
However, there is hope. Representation can help promote acceptance and address bias.
Muslim Representation In Beauty
The beauty industry has made significant strides in diversity within marketing campaigns. However, it is still rare to see women wearing hijab in beauty marketing campaigns. The first hijabi Cover Girl was named in 2016. The following year, we saw the first hijabi model, Halima Aden, get signed by the modeling agency IMG. Yet, beyond a token hijabi model, have we seen diversity within beauty?
Muslim editors are finally starting to speak up about how the beauty industry has rarely asked them about being Muslim within the beauty space. Shyema Azam writes:
“At most, because there are relatively few Muslims in my line of work, my identity would come into play on rare occasions when my colleagues needed an unofficial "Muslim consultant" any time an Islam-sensitive question might arise. But seeing how fashion and beauty brands have begun to embrace representation of Muslim women — and how that increased visibility is changing the larger conversation — has reminded me just how uniquely positioned the industry is to be able to help break down boundaries.”
But are Muslims really breaking the boundaries in the beauty industry seven years later?
As a Muslim beauty brand founder, it is rare to find a fellow hijabi beauty brand founder. Yes, there are Muslim beauty brand founders, but it is hard to see one as visibly Muslim as I am. While it can be disconcerting to attend beauty events and be the only visibly Muslim beauty founder, I am okay with being the first. I hope I am not the last and can help forge a path for others to follow.
The beauty industry needs more models, editors, beauty executives and brand founders.
Here are to finding many more visible Muslims in the beauty space!