Representation of Muslim women in the media is hard to come by, so when a few of them do appear, their popularity skyrockets. The rarity of hijabi women being painted in a positive light has caused many misconceptions about not only Muslim women but Islam itself. Thus, when hijabis do emerge in fashion magazines and TV shows or on billboards and catwalks, there is an emphatic pride within the Muslim community. Yet, there is still a divide within the ummah where many argue that these professions take away from a woman's piety; such has happened before with various Muslim Youtubers who left Islam once they rose to fame. However, the major question at hand is: Is it possible for Muslim women to participate in these industries whilst staying steadfast in their faith?
Just this past summer, Halima Aden, a renowned hijabi supermodel, departed from the fashion industry, stating that “working in fashion compromised my values” and that she wished to spend time getting back in touch with her faith. Many were sad to see her go; after all, she reinvented modest fashion with her appearances on Vogue, at New York Fashion Week and Week in Milan, gaining recognition for being a top model despite her hijab. But that's the problem, isn’t it? For many, the meaning of hijab and modesty is to cover up one’s beauty, and being a supermodel contradicts that. Similar to Halima’s case, the famous Indian actress Zaira Wasim sent shock waves through the country when she announced that at the young age of 18, she would be ending her acting career to pursue a more holy lifestyle, and even decided to put on the hijab. This sparked outrage from many who believed that she was donning the hijab as a symbol of oppression. Throughout her brief but impactful career, some called Zaira’s actions and behavior un-Islamic, leading her to rethink her own interpretation of faith.
Whether they receive backlash from representing Islam incorrectly or Islamophobic sentiments are lashed against them, Muslim women face an overwhelming amount of criticism which is catapulted onto the world stage. Unfortunately, it seems as though no behavior or set of actions will ever be “good enough” for a Muslim woman, continuing a toxic cycle which leads to the noticeable lack of female Muslim representation. However, what the world tends to forget is the drive and strength of these women who put themselves in these spaces and re-conquer fashion, media, and positivity; as well as embrace the true meaning of what it means to be a powerful woman. Because, believe it or not, Muslim women can, and will do it all.