Hijabi Model Halima Aden Quits The Fashion Industry, Unveils The Truth About Inclusivity And Diversity In Fashion
It was four years back when a Somalia-American Muslim girl became the trailblazer and inspiration of all the hijab-wearing women by becoming the first hijabi supermodel in the industry. Halima Aden who was still a teenager, shot to fame in 2016 and never looked back. She represented the hijabi Muslim women worldwide on runways and the covers of top fashion magazines which seriously lacks inclusivity and diversity when it come to models. However, after four years of international attention and success, Aden has announced that she is ending her career claiming that the fashion industry has been forcing her to compromise her beliefs, rather than the industry being accepting of them.
In a series of Instagram story, Aden took her followers through her journey of wearing hijab as a kid, her first break in fashion and all the biggest milestones in the industry. She went on to reveal how some of the photoshoots and public appearances completely contradicted her beliefs and the purpose of hijab but she was too young and afraid to stand up at the time. She also shed light on how the industry lacks Muslim stylists, because of which she often felt that the shoots were not conceptualised keeping a hijabi in mind.
She wrote, “I can only blame myself for caring more about opportunity than what was actually at stake. I blame myself for being naïve and rebellious, but also the lack of Muslim women stylists in the industry. I had to make these mistakes to be the role model you trust. We need to have these conversations in order to truly change the system.” But now she is officially done being the scapegoat of fashion industry that uses her as a poster girl for inclusivity, while forcing her to compromise and modify her dressing according to their terms.
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Also Read: Vogue Arabia Smashed Stereotypes About Hijabs, Muslim Women And More With Their April Issue
She mentioned in her story how the brands would style various head coverings like denim jeans or head wraps in lieu of hijab for photoshoots that she found reasons to justify initially, but later realised it was not in compliance with her religious beliefs. She admits to have given in and keeping silent because as a “young and naïve” budding model, she was just looking for opportunities to make it in the industry. She also revealed that she often wore her hijab the wrong way for public appearances, sometimes “to show off a necklace” where it would not cover her chest, which defeats the whole purpose of wearing a hijab but not anymore.
Back home, actors Sana Khan and Zaira Wasim also quit film industry for similar reasons. Wasim shared that she felt acting led her “to the path of ignorance and threatened her relationship with her religion.” Announcing her exit, she wrote, “For a very long time now, it has felt like I have struggled to become someone else. As I had just started to explore and make sense of the things to which I dedicated my time, efforts and emotions and tried to grab hold of a new lifestyle, it was only for me to realise that though I may fit here perfectly, I do not belong here.” Sana Khan also decided to adopt the spiritual lifestyle with modest dressing and deleted all her pictures from Instagram where she wasn’t wearing a hijab to truly follow her religious path.
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Refusing to succumb to the fashion world’s superficial inclusivity that makes her compromise on her identity, she has now quit the industry to follow her spiritual path and abide by the religious requirements of her faith. As we see it, she was an inspiration for all the women when she became the first hijabi fashion model four years back, and she is one now for making a bold choice and exiting the most exciting and flourishing industry, because her beliefs don’t sit with their requirements. Also, it is time fashion industry starts respecting the faith and needs of talents that aren’t from the same religion and not just pay lip service to inclusivity, or else we will keep losing such incredible and empowering women.