Amidst growing tensions and Islamophobia in France, Vogue France features a Hijab-clad model on the cover.
The hijabi woman is none other than Ugbad Abdi, a Somali American model. She comments that the hijab hasn’t hindered her modelling career and she is actively sought out by top brands.
When speaking to Vogue she stated that the photoshoot “could open doors for young girls who feel represented by the issues of the magazine.”
She says, “I can tell you that the little girl in me is bursting with joy for what it means for her not only to have two Somali women hugging each other on Vogue France, but even more for the representation of the hijab on the cover.”
Representation or performative progression?
We need to be very careful and think critically about the media representation that we see, as opposed to taking it for face value. Whilst it’s always a great thing to feel represented within society, it clashes with the very political landscape of France.
Tensions have been mounting between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities after France announces a niqab and burkini ban.
This was especially contradictory after the rise of covid, with face masks being mandatory yet religious face coverings being banned. The French government is also aiming to ban the hijab for those under 18.
Fashion has been used to mask the notion of diversity in the white, western world. As you can see from the image, the industry uses fashion as a vehicle to secularise faith and simplify spiritual and cultural practices down to ‘cultural trends.’
This not only gives the illusion of diversity and appeases the masses, but also gives the fashion industry leverage to adapt the hijab to their own agendas. To read more regarding how the high fashion world skews the meaning of hijab, click here.
Comments on social media highlight that people aren’t blinded by the representation. It doesn’t take away from the Muslim women who are fighting and campaigning to wear the hijab freely.
One user noted:
Don’t be fooled. Another to-do list checked on their agenda.’
In January, a picture of Julia Roberts was posted on Vogue France’s Instagram, titled with the caption; ‘yes to the headscarf‘.
Journalist Furvah Khan took to Twitter to share her frustrations.