Muse: Life lessons from Instagram sensation Amena Khan

Amena Khan is making a name for herself on Instagram. (Images supplied)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Muse: Life lessons from Instagram sensation Amena Khan

  • Amena Khan is making a name for herself on Instagram
  • She talks candidly about her struggle to the top as a hijab-wearing influencer

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.


Nora Attal has her day in the sun in Marrakesh

Updated 19 March 2019
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Nora Attal has her day in the sun in Marrakesh

DUBAI: British-Moroccan model Nora Attal posed up a storm in Marrakesh’s golden sunlight for a new campaign by fashion brand Zara.

The in-demand model shared snaps from the campaign, photographed by Christian Macdonald, on her Instagram account.

The collection of photographs show Attal modelling looks from Zara’s laid-back Spring/Summer 2019 collection against a backdrop of rippling sand dunes. Her featured ensembled include kaftans and long-length cardigans with hefty stripes in a clay-and-beige color palette.

Attal is no stranger to fronting campaigns — in January, the model was chosen as one of seven rising stars to feature in British fashion house Alexander McQueen’s latest campaign.

The Spring/Summer 2019 collection photoshoot was shot by British fashion and documentary photographer Jamie Hawkesworth and featured Attal wearing a number of cowboy-inspired looks.

The year has gotten off to a busy start for Attal, who was similarly in demand in 2018, when she took to the catwalk for Elie Saab, Loewe and Dior during Paris Fashion Week in September and starred in Italian fashion label Versace’s summer advert campaign.

In May, luxury e-retailer Farfetch launched in the Middle East with a little help from the young model.

She starred in a photoshoot wearing pieces from collections on sale on the platform. The colorful photographs were accompanied by a snappy, chatty interview with the young model.
Readers got the chance to gain insight into her earliest fashion memories and learn some off-the-cuff facts about the star.

“Recently I’ve been obsessed with noughties trends. Everyone was so cool and effortless back then. Now I go out in a full Juicy Couture tracksuit with no shame,” she told Farfetch at the time.

“If I wasn’t a model, I’d probably be at university, studying to get into something like criminal investigations, profiling or law,” she added.

Attal finished off 2018 by hitting the sand dunes in the UAE — however, this time it wasn’t part of a high-end photoshoot, but rather a day of fun.

The model enjoyed an afternoon of sandboarding in the emirate of Sharjah and even posted a snap on Instagram at the time.

“Apparently sandboarding is a thing,” she captioned the sunset shot.