For those who have never come across World Hijab Day or, like myself, had heard of it but knew very little – keep reading.
On 1 February 2018, 140 countries celebrated World Hijab Day. Founder Nazma Khan, a New York resident, came up with the concept in 2013 to recognise Muslim women across the world who wear the hijab. Reading her story, I was surprised and annoyed with my ignorance about the discrimination Muslim women who wear the hijab in the USA go through. Growing up in north-west London, in one of the most multicultural boroughs in the UK, I never really experienced much discrimination – until I started my modelling career. That said, I thought living in big cities like New York would have provided a somewhat similar experience to mine.
Working in the fashion industry as a model and speaker, I have definitely seen the positive influence it’s had on the world’s view of the hijab. When I first started my career in a high-street campaign in 2015, I woke up to the struggles so many Muslim women face for simply expressing themselves. The hijab for me is more than some fabric on my head; it’s a way of life. Why should I not be proud of that? With the current political climate and the negative stigmas attached to it, I think it’s a brilliant time to express ourselves vocally more than ever. I was brought up to never shy away from who I am, regardless of what is on trend or deemed acceptable or not.
That is why I’m a supporter of World Hijab Day and think it’s a great concept. However, my question is: how long will we need to set aside a day for the hijab? My hope is that a few years from now it becomes so normal in society that we won’t even have to.