We Need to Talk About Hijab Policing and Public Shaming

I was personally super excited for the launch of the Banana Republic hijabs. No, not because we desperately needed them. Not because they’re affordable, but because they represented more than that. These hijabs and the model represented inclusion and diversity.

Growing up, I was always discouraged by the fact that hijab and modest clothing weren’t mainstream. I always wondered why I couldn’t just go to the mall and find items that catered to me. I’m glad we’re finally getting there. I understand some of these companies may be looking to capitalize on the modest fashion movement. They’re businesses, they aren’t going to invest in something if they didn’t think it would make them some money. I get it.

However, what I don’t get is the fact that certain people from the Muslim community itself felt the need to publicly express their disagreement with the way the hijab was portrayed. It was more than just a disagreement with the company though, it was a public shaming of the model, Fatuma Yusuf. It was a dismissal of Fatuma as a person, as a strong black Muslim hijabi woman.

These self-proclaimed leaders of the modest fashion movement were a little salty that they weren’t included in the conversation. They expressed their frustration that Banana Republic didn’t reach out to the “Muslim community.” When in fact, Fatuma, is Muslim. They obviously consulted her. It’s not fair to put her down because you felt you deserved to be consulted.

It’s not fair to shame her because of the choices she makes when it comes to her hijab and her modest dress. You may think wearing short sleeves or showing your neck is not be permissible. However, you also think wearing makeup and/or showing your ankles is permissible.

I can almost guarantee that if you were chosen for this Banana Republic launch, you would be there with a full face of makeup. Would you go on a rant then?

The sad truth is that this ultimately stems from a deeply rooted anti-black sentiment woven into the Muslim community. Black Muslim women have been speaking on this for years and we, collectively, need to do a better job at listening.

It’s 2019. We shouldn’t be at this stage as a community. We should be uplifting each other. We should be amplifying the voices of black Muslim women, instead of trying to be the only voice. This launch should have been celebrated by every single Muslim woman. So for those who chose to not celebrate this as a step in the right direction for inclusivity, allow this to serve as your reminder. You do not own the hijab narrative. You do not own the modest fashion narrative. You do not own the narrative of Muslim women. You can’t possibly speak for the Muslim community, if you’re out there publicly shaming one of your own. You can’t call yourself a leader in the modest fashion movement, if you’re tearing others down who have paved their own way.  All because your choice of covering differs. Which by the way, doesn’t differ all that much after all.

Hijab is much more than what you wear. It is absolutely how you conduct yourself, and a public apology as loud as that distasteful public rant is definitely needed here.

Be sure to follow and support @thisgirlfatuma! She is doing amazing things for Muslim women.