A hijabi girl is who I am, I don’t wear it for instagram, I wear it for the modesty and morality that make me feel like a champ.
This phrase has been the hijabi women’s mantra for quite some time now, which really shines a big light on the secrets or the unlooked facts behind their solemn commitment, that primarily consist of making sure a woman’s intentions are pure and correct in terms of why she’s doing it along with ensuring it’s from her own free will and that at heart she’s as convinced and dedicated to honouring it.
Although by fixing up the micro-lenses on zoom mode we get to discover that that’s not always the case. Granted, our Tunisian society may have set the rails for the Hijab acceptance road but it is still a flawed one, one containing bumps and curbs residing in the real dark truths behind wearing the hijab. Unspoken truths, suppressed emotions, oppressed opinions and abused childhoods all in the name of following religion and obeying family beliefs. Which gives you a mere idea about the other half of the hijabi women by allowing you to realise that even though you see hijabi women in high power positions, from businesswomen to surgeons you don’t know the backstory of them wearing it.
Furthermore, sometimes you can tell the difference by the grade of confidence each hijabi woman yields while having it on or through the clothes she coordinates it with or simply by the way she walks in it (picturing every sidewalk, a fashion show catwalk). Which brings me to my most important point that irradiates a most needed revolution in the tunisian fashion industry.
Diving deeper into this matter, we may notice that over the years, it seems like fashion's attempts at more representation and inclusion are picking up pace; From the french-Tunisian and Jean Paul Gaultier's first hijabi model TAQWA BINT ALI to the international super model HALIMA ADEN, we witness trailblazing and glass ceils-breaking, power moves and diversity tunes, community of youths and correction of the islamophobic news.
Both these hijabi women have swept the fashion industry with their unique spotlight shine so well that today ,we’re experiencing the rebirth of hope to all the veiled girls dreaming to be models one day.
Because dear Maft readers, in this matter in particular, I’d like to think that hope breeds the creation of a new history not eternal misery, and it is on this note,I affirm to you that sometimes it takes one person to step outside of their comfort zone and be the first for other girls to see that they can do it too.
And in this case, we only needed one. One muslim hijabi woman to open up the doors for the generations to come, one to correctly represent, to use the power of fashion magazines and society streams to single handedly put the hijabi women on the runway MAP, one to overcome that all-too-common discrimination that comes with her muslim identity cap, in short one to embody authentic empowerment through this worthy journey.
A journey on which today, we find multiple brands trying hard to hitch ride in order to have that exclusive exposure , yes the same one that was only granted to models with narrow beauty-standards. Yet, here, you'd think that the use of hijab-wearing models is a nod to inclusivity as the scarf begins to appear more in the mainstream western fashion world and modest fashion is being gradually focused on, however something inside you says this is just ain’t it, it has to be more complex than that.
Which, begs the questions :
Is it women empowerment or just profiting off on the islamic symbols of modesty?
Questions, questions, going on repeat in your mind, yet all you can manage to find is that the industry is never complete without the under the table dealings that introduce new malicious techniques into the business side of things. Therefore, it is here when you encounter the big realisation that every identity’s representation in fashion is met with the ultimate test of walking that thin line between depiction and exploitation and to be honest, it is commonly known that in a Western context, the hijab is easily exploited to control a community which is constantly targeted and systematically oppressed by the government — one must be conscious of the implications.
Which all and all insists on the idea that mainstream doesn’t mean acceptance because in real values , acceptance irrefutably leads to endless and equal possibilities and opportunities for all marginalized visible Muslim women in the industry as any other girl.
And since we’re still scraping the bottom of the barrel for the slightest bits of fashion gigs or runway shows since change is nowhere near being close to achieving that hijab women inclusion shift.
Thus, it all falls down to the members of this community to try and get western fashion advertisers and media outlets to boost the real movement consisting of perpetual diversity, not portraying it as some sort of trend for, quite the opposite, actually, they need to try hard to change the game by being present and telling their stories loud and proud because there are still a lot of spaces we have yet to see a hijabi woman and whether that’s in Tunisia or someplace else , we want to tackle as many of those uncharted territories as possible making it easier for the next set of girls.
So from setting up diverse authentic representational agencies to public speaking about the misconception that modest fashion can’t be cool, stylish or elegant, from portraying the empowerment behind the free will of wearing the hijab to finessing the modeling industry by making it on the world’s most illustrious catwalks.
And these are a drop of the big ocean of inclusiveness’ elevation and diversity spotlight shining, these are our foot in the door kind of achievement, these are the wave of encouragement for our modestly dressed women who have the ambition and passion to explore a career in modeling.
These are our frameworks to support, cultivate and promote these rising talents.