H&M features first Hijab wearing model

by Aleeha Shah| staff writer

A recent ad promoting H&M clothing marked history in the fashion industry, making H&M the first major company to feature a woman who wears a hijab. A hijab is a head covering worn by Muslim women. The 23-year-old Moroccan-Pakistani model, Mariah Idrissi, was the first hijab-wearing model to appear in an H&M ad.

Idrissi was discovered through her instagram account (@mariahidrissi). After coming across her posts, a model scout reached out to her. After thinking it over, Idrissi then accepted the offer. H&M sought her for their “Close the Loop” project, which encourages people to recycle their old clothes instead of throwing them out, or even in some cases, burning them. Although Idrissi was only in the ad for a couple of seconds, her name made headlines.

The ad featuring the London-based model earned her recognition from a variety of news outlets, and a variety of different people. Women who also wear a hijab have begun to admire her for drawing attention to the precious headscarf they wear proudly. According to NBC news, Girls and teens struggling to adjust to life in a headscarf began to reach out to her for advice. Some even said she gave them the hope they needed to continue wearing the hijab. In an interview with independent.co.uk she said “I’ve had girls contact me online saying ‘I wanted to take my scarf off but now I’ve seen you I’m more confident.” Idrissi had also said that she plans to continue to model, and has friends helping her book more jobs.

The first hijab wearing model, Mariah Idrissi, in an ad.
The first hijab wearing model, Mariah Idrissi, in an ad.

Because I also wear a hijab, I think the exposure of a hijab-wearing model is very important. It shows that someone like me can also earn a spotlight in the fashion industry. Although I am not that into the fashion spotlight, it is nice to know that if I ever change my mind there is someone out there that can help me out. After stalking her Instagram account, I began to understand why she was recognized – she is gorgeous! I think that it is admirable that she did follow her passion, because I know that there are some hijabis that would not approve, and would give her negative feedback. Despite knowing that some Muslims would not approve of her choice, Idrissi still took on the project.  

Currently, both Idrissi and H&M itself are receiving mixed feedback on a daily basis. I personally think that H&M did a really good thing featuring people from different places, backgrounds, and stories. As far as the story of Idrissi goes, I think she shouldn’t let anyone’s opinion affect her decisions. She should continue to pursue her modeling career, and continue to do different photoshoots and video ads.  I hope Idrissi’s story inspires other hijab wearing woman to put themselves out there, as well as serving as an example for other major fashion companies. In the future I would love to see hijab wearing models representing all major brands striving in the fashion industry.


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