History proves that the waves of change, from traditional standards and beliefs to modern ones, are first manifest in art and expression. None is more true than in the beauty industry, where imagery challenges long held beliefs about skin tones and hair textures. Beauty caught on with people of color in the 90s – with MAC leading the charge to tap into a multi-billion dollar market by satisfying a wide range of skin and undertones.
The change continues with the mainstreaming of Hijabi beauty… specifically Muslim women who are often seen with just their faces, hands, and feet exposed. Gone is the stereotype of kohl-rimmed eyes peeking out from beneath a plain black niqab… now we are regaled with full faces of expertly applied makeup, complete with false lashes and just the right sheen of lipgloss on a full color mouth.
From Youtube to Instagram, Hijabi Beauties are standing strong and proud in full dress and makeup. It was only a matter of time before mainstream beauty companies caught on. CoverGirl leads the charge by contracting with their first ever Hijabi Beauty Guru, Nura Afia. Presenting as ‘Babylailalov‘ on Youtube, the Sephora employee is known for her soothing voice and light sense of humor. Her makeup application skills are so precise, that commenters often solicit her for advice on the best brands to serve their beauty needs.
Others have gone the clothing route, selling traditional Islamic clothing, head coverings and accessories, all while wearing full makeup and a winning smile. One of the biggest influencers on the fashion side is the Indonesian haute couture designer Anniesa Haibuan. She became the first Muslim designer to present at NYFW ’16. Online-based brands like The Modesta Ink specializes in hand-dyed creations, while Haute Hijab makes clothing and scarves to market around the world. The founder, Melanie Elturk, harnesses the power of social media to encourage customers to link the company to any pictures of them wearing her merchandise. Across the pond in London, the Youtube beauty guru Amena splits her time between reviewing makeup and skin care, selling her Pearl Daisy ‘hoodjabs’ (a hybrid of hijab and hood) and promoting her own line of makeup and false lashes.
The central thread to all of these endeavors is a distinct pride in being your most beautiful, authentic self. These innovators are unapologetic about their beliefs, and effortless in their style and presentation. This is particularly interesting in an anti-Islamic climate that is fueled with fear and mistrust, in light of international terror incidents in the name of said religion. With the power of mainstream imagery and marketing savvy, Haute Hijabis seek to pull back the curtain and show the beautiful side of a religion that previously left them marginalized and misunderstood in western society.