The year is 2020, and although changes are happening, why are they happening so slowly?
When you watch a show or a movie, listen to music or view fashion, what is one thing that you notice? There are few people of different cultures, races, religions, and sizes.
I am just one of the many Muslim women whose career and dreams have felt shattered by the narrow views that are set by the fashion and music industries who think I don’t “fit the part” because of how I dress for my religion.
Fashion industries have denied me because of my size, and because they said covering my hair and most of my body does not fit what people want to see when they view fashion. Music companies want someone who their bodies sell as much as their voice. This becomes frustrating because many companies do not want to hear my reply on the situation once they have their minds made up; this makes me feel defeated but I keep standing up and trying.
Before I converted to Islam, the way I dressed only differed slightly as to how I dress as a hijab-wearing Muslim woman now. I still dressed modestly, even before I converted and chose to wear the hijab. The responses and opportunities I had received from companies before I had converted were basically the same, except they were more focused on how you need to be this height, and this weight; you need to look like this and be like that. In the truth of the matter I wasn’t a “this” or a “that”; I’m me, and I still am a uniquely individual me. Now that I’m Muslim, people just tend to look at how I cover my hair because that stands out to them the most. Since converting, I also receive a lot of denials, rudeness, and misunderstanding. I am very open to explaining, but few people want to hear my side of the story. They just care that I cover my hair or am not the “right size,” and that I might not be “marketable” enough for them.
How I dress because of my beliefs does not define who I am as a woman; it does not make me any less talented, or knowledgeable, or take away my voice and rights.
As a soon to be mom, I want my child to grow up with a strong sense of self, and I want other people to also know that what I wear or don’t wear doesn’t make me who I am. How I dress because of my beliefs does not define who I am as a woman; it does not make me any less talented, or knowledgeable, or take away my voice and rights. A Muslim woman can perform their job just as well as their non-Muslim counterpart, although many think we cannot. We have dreams and goals we want to accomplish as much as the next person. The hijab doesn’t affect my capability.
Whether it’s due to fear or misunderstanding, I’m not sure why industries have been so slow at becoming more inclusive, and showcasing beauty and talent in all its diverse forms. We must be consistent in wanting to be part of this positive change that impacts us now, so we can break the mold for future generations as to what’s perceived as “normal” by the media.