Halima Aden, a refugee turned model, took the world by surprise when she opened up about her treatment in the fashion industry. The woman was always praised for representing Hijabis in mainstream settings, but she says what she represented wasn’t being true to herself. She said stylists always seemed to try to hide her true beauty as a hijabi, covering her in cloth, using jeans as a hijab, and powdering her in heavy makeup. This, she says, is not the image she wanted to uphold. Although other women feel empowered in their own ways, it's their choice to. Aden posted a lot about her past, the people she came across, and spoke of her growth over the past years. Here are some of her words taken from her Instagram stories:
“We live in a society that only rewards us when we bend to their ‘comfortability’. Imagine if collectively we all said NO MORE. Take me back as I am Or watch my back as I head out the door to create my own space.”
“My hijab was never the problem-I realize that today...it was trying to fit in a society that was not made for me.”
“Oftentimes the need for validation is so strong, we forget our superpower. The right to say no.”
She also highlighted the importance of not comparing others, all women are on their own paths, and should not be shamed for their choices. She says, “Let’s not shame our sisters but instead offer support and kindness. Lord knows hijabis get enough criticism. We all gotta practice empathy.”
The Muslimah hopes people will find comfort in her words. Oftentimes, women aren’t given the space to discuss the weight on their shoulders with all the expectations, microaggressions, and issues they face. She says speaking out felt like the biggest weight was taken off her shoulders. Being vulnerable allowed her to reflect and see that she is not alone in this struggle, and helped her realize the importance in speaking up.
We encourage everyone to do research on Halima’s story. Growing up in a refugee camp and nearly being taken from her mother multiple times, facing countless obstacles as a Black Muslimah, going through many trials, and finally speaking up is an inspiring, but sad story. This is one step closer to addressing the stigmas and problems hijabis face in society.
Yusra (18): As a young hijabi myself I’ve always been curious about what it would be like for someone who looks like me to venture out into an industry that, at first glance, doesn’t seem like it’d be particularly inclusive of my values. Since I’ve known about her, I’ve admired Halima for what she stands for, her story, and her courage to push forward in an area of work that seems like it would only want her to change. And I’ve wondered, on more than one occasion, so is it possible? Can you go into such an industry without compromising your values? In her Instagram story, Halima answered just that, and her honesty only made my respect for her grow tenfold.
Her advice - to not let the desire for opportunities and representation cost you small bits of your faith- was an eye-opening and necessary reminder for me, along with her tip to “go in...knowing you”, as the importance of knowing where you draw your own boundaries is apparent in so many aspects of our lives in today’s society. Halima’s honesty about her treatment, inner conflict, and her decision are beyond inspiring, and I hope she knows how important her story and words are to so many Muslim women who’d yet to see a conversation like this one led by someone with such a public platform.
Samiah (18): As a hijabi, I know how hard it is to find a loving community. I always looked up to Halima, but even more so now. She is very brave for speaking up about how she was treated, and for calling out the large platforms that asked for unfair favors from her. I think the boundaries Muslim women make, and the love they spread to other people in our community is important. To grow and flourish as people who grow up facing the same treatment. We should be welcomed into different spaces, but not while being asked to lose our faith. Her story will forever inspire me to keep moving forward.
Maha (19): As a hijabi myself, it upsets me to know how Halima Aden was pressured to change how she dressed, how she wore the hijab, and how much makeup she wore simply to fit into the fashion industry. Although I am not surprised by the fact that Ms. Aden was influenced to change how she dressed and wore the hijab, I am disappointed and wished that she had been treated better in the industry. I am glad that she spoke up about what she faced and am proud of her for her decision. It may have not been the easiest decision to make to take a break from her career, especially since there will always be people that criticize what Black Muslim women do. For Ms. Aden to speak up about her decision is inspiring because it made so many other Muslim women speak up about discrimination that they faced as well as show their support for Ms. Aden.
Free Weekly Emails