DUBAI: The British blogger talks candidly about her struggle to the top as one of the first hijab-wearing influencers in the UK.
As a child, I was inspired by the arts and entertainment — it was a form of escapism for me. Somewhere around my teens, the penny dropped, and I realized there weren’t very many brown faces on TV, so it probably wouldn’t be financially smart for me to study journalism, or media or acting.
When I started out, I heard insiders in the beauty industry say there was no place for a hijabi, that it was too divisive of a symbol and that I should just give it up. But I didn’t – I’m proud of being the first woman of color in a hijab to be in mainstream beauty campaigns across television, magazines and billboards. Seeing my dream materialize was like seeing the power of passion, perseverance, struggle, creativity and positive thinking.
I think that there are a lot of misconceptions tied to the hijab as it makes you visibly Muslim, and because most of the media representation is negative, it rubs off on people.
The cause that I believe in – which is freedom of choice for everyone — benefits everyone because we are all objectified. It’s this journey that all women are on and it’s this journey that binds us, so we have to find a way to accept people for who they are instead of trying to control, manipulate and force women into being what we want them to be.
My focus has become more inclusive. I personally have become more inclined toward fostering an environment where women feel safe to express themselves however they want.
In regards to online negativity, I think dealing with it, you need a really strong support system, and really thick skin and you have to really know who you are and stick to it.
I once got a doll that looked like a voodoo doll and I don’t think it was, but I was too afraid to even touch it.
For me, simply existing within a sphere where beauty is currency as a woman of color who is identifiably Muslim is groundbreaking, it’s revolutionary. For me, to thrive in this space and make the relationships that I’ve made with big brands is testament to the fact that there is a space for us. This is not just a space where I have fun with make-up. I want my presence to stand for something.