The definition of beauty has evolved over time. However, it is not uniform in the entire world, rather has grown its unique definition in different societies. Merriam Webster defines beauty as the “quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”
In the United States and Western media, beauty is often defined by the sex appeal of a person and depends solely on physical appearance. From skin-color to dress-size, everything is specified for a woman to be beautiful according to the societal standard. In this culture of showing skin and exhibiting the “perfect figure”, does Hijab have a place in the beauty and fashion industry?
The word hijab in Arabic means “barrier” or “screen.” For a Muslim woman, Hijab is not a choice rather a religious obligation. Modern Muslim women have made Hijab fashion more popular than ever in the Western fashion world. Modesty as a movement is making huge strides in helping women of all style aesthetics find innovative ways to express themselves within the guidelines of the Hijab. Five women who revolutionized the fashion industry with Hijab beauty is our topic of discussion today.
1. Mariah Idrissi
Mariah Idrissi (@mariahidrissi) broke the stereotype by being recognized as the world’s first Hijabi model. Born to Pakistani and Moroccan parents in London, Idrissi rose to fame overnight after her H&M campaign aired.
“It was initially very easy because I was scouted in a shopping mall, which led to a global H&M campaign— my first job as a model. However, after my breakthrough, the struggle really began as there was no such thing as a ‘hijab-wearing model’,” Idrissi told the Vogue.
She was first spotted while she was working at a children’s shop at Westfield Shopping Centre in 2015, and has since gone on to shoot editorials for magazines around the world (including Emirates Woman), as well as acting as a public speaker and passionate philanthropist.
2. Halima Aden
The 23-year-old (@Halima) zoomed into the public eye in 2016 for being the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.
She made history as the first model to wear a Hijab and Burkini in Sports Illustrated swimsuit 2019. “I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” Halima said during her shoot. “So to grow up to live the American dream [and] to come back to Kenya and shoot for SI in the most beautiful parts of Kenya–I don’t think that’s a story that anybody could make up.”
The Somali-American star, who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp has walked for big-name brands including Yeezy, MaxMara, and Philipp Plein. She went on to sign with IMG models and not only became an incredibly successful international model but a champion for the expansion of the traditional definition of beauty as well.
3. Ruba Zai
Starting her career as a style blogger, the Afghan-Dutch YouTuber (@hijabhills) is now a bona fide campaign star. She is best known for her fashion and beauty channel Hijab Hills. With over a million followers on Instagram, Ruba Zai set the standard for Hijabi women in fashion with her campaigns with Dolce & Gabbana and YSL Beauty.
“Dolce & Gabbana approached me for their Autumn/Winter campaign,” Zai told i-D magazine.
“I came up with the suggestion to publish during Ramadan… they thought it was a great idea.”
The Italian-born label collaborated with her in their first launch of the modest collection. Zai was featured in an YSL beauty campaign celevrating the 25th anniversary of the brand’s Touche Eclat range. Zai expressed optimism saying that her partnership with Dolce & Gabbana will help bolster the image of empowered Muslim woman.
4. Ikram Abdi Omar
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Model Ikram Abdi Omar ( @ikramabdi) has made fashion history twice: when she appeared on the cover of Vogue Arabia with fellow hijab-wearing models Halima and Amina Aden; and when she became Burberry’s first headscarf-wearing festive campaign girl.
Ikram, 23, was studying biomedical science at Bristol University when she was scouted by Premier Model Management, in spring 2018. To give her all to modeling she decided to quit her studies and focus all her energy on modeling.
When asked about the contradiction between Hijab and fashion, she replied, "Modesty is different for different religions and individuals within them. For me, I’m fine with showing hands, feet, a bit of ankle, neck, and the face… My mum fully covers, she is modest in her own way."
With her unique sense of style, she has become the role model of not only Hijabi girl but an inspiration for young girls across the Globe.
5. Amina Adan
Amina Adan (@amina_adan) was born and raised in Copenhagen where she still resides. She was first discovered by an agent while she was waiting for a bus. Learning that her hijab wouldn’t be a problem she decided to give it a shot and never looked back.
“My first runway show was for Blanche in Copenhagen. I was very excited and so nervous… I’ve since walked for Max Mara at Milan fashion week. I’d like to do more international runways – I’ve just enrolled in the university but I want to continue my modeling career,” she told Vogue.
She named Halima Aden to be her inspiration for Hijab beauty. Adan encourages young women to pursue their passion regardless of their ethnicity and cultural background.
Did you find these Hijabi women’s journey inspiring? Comment below to let us know!