Photo: Velvet D'Amour + MUA: Janet Doman

Why I Am Not Represented or Visible as a Muslim

I use this word a lot. Visibility. Then I always add “proper representation” to that. Not only do I want to be visible, but I want to be properly represented in the world I live in.

“Leah V., you’re always complaining,” a troll on Instagram said underneath a photo. “So, I’m unfollowing you.”

And, sweetheart, you’re not complaining enough, which is why we are in a fucked situation right now.

See, here’s the thing. I might not be on the front lines. I may not hold a huge sign over my head that denounces Number 45. I don’t speak at pep rallies or organize sit-ins, but that doesn’t take away my voice. And, it certainly doesn’t mean that I’m any less of an ally than my counterparts. We all want the same thing, but we travel along different routes to make that happen.

Photo: Velvet D'Amour + MUA: Janet Doman
Photo: Velvet D’Amour + MUA: Janet Doman



Many of you know how it feels to walk into your favorite store. In the window is a huge advertisement. There are several statuesque models with wavy hair and white skin wearing the store’s new skinny jean. As you go farther in, there are more advertisements of beautiful models who look nothing like you. You will never be tall. Never be thin. Or white.

And, it certainly doesn’t mean that I’m any less of an ally than my counterparts.

Go into your local Barnes & Noble. Scan through the magazine section. Tell me how many white or ambiguous looking thin people are on the covers. Tell me how many dark-skin Latinas or Asians are on the covers. Muslims? Fat people? People with disabilities?

And, the newest craze is showcasing, and sometimes even exploiting, Muslim women. We Rise PopSugar just made a video showcasing modest Muslim women in fashion. In the 3-minute video, there was not ONE Black Muslim woman. Not ONE Latina Muslim. Not ONE Indian woman. All the women showcased were straight-sized European hijabis and white-looking Middle-Easterners.

We Rise PopSugar isn’t the only magazine, website, and media outlet to “white-wash” Muslim women.

I live in Detroit, Mich. Not too far from Dearborn, Mich. One-third of the Muslim population in Michigan are African-American. But when media outlets come to the city, they miraculously only find “acceptable” Muslims to interview and highlight. We are buried and hidden once again.

Just like in White AmeriKKKa.

We can’t find acceptance in our homeland, but now we can’t find it in Islam either?



Leah V