Four Black Muslim Models on What Fashion Means to Them

Name: Amran Hassan
Age: 23
Location: New York City

How has your relationship with fashion changed this year?
2020 has been a challenging year so far, but it hasn’t slowed down my everlasting love for looking my best. Recently, though, I have noticed I’m gravitating towards softer, more comfortable pieces as opposed to structured ones. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a great pair of jeans as much as the next girl, but balloon pants have quickly risen to the top of my list of favorites!

How has your background and upbringing influenced your style?
Fashion is an expression of my art, culture, and mood. I’m incredibly minimalistic in my personal wardrobe, but I love to get on set and be styled in pieces I wouldn’t normally reach for. I feel like a different person in every look, but my hijab makes me who I am.

What does fashion mean to you as a Black Muslim woman?
Being a Black hijabi model has been such a roller coaster. I know there’s a few of us out there, and it’s beautiful [to watch] the industry grow and change with us in real time. Millions of girls can see themselves in the media now more than ever, and the representation is so important because I would’ve loved to see someone who looked like us doing what we’re doing.

Name: Abu Dee
Age: 19
Location: Philadelphia

How has your relationship with fashion changed this year?
Fashion has been embedded in my DNA, as far as 2020 goes. Since lockdown, I have had more time to study how certain fabrics mix well with others or which colors go well with each other. Fashion was once a [narrow] idea that everyone had to like in order to be accepted, but fashion has changed and appeals to so many different audiences in the sense that it does not have to be liked by everyone in order to be accepted.

How has your background and upbringing influenced your style?
As a Black Muslim woman, fashion is extremely important and sensitive to me. Fashion makes modesty more comfortable than it already is. As a Muslim woman, it is important to feel comfortable, especially in a climate in which a Muslim woman is still not completely accepted. Coming from a predominantly Senegalese background, I have not seen many models of my background or darker skin tones on Muslim clothing sites or high-fashion sites — most of them are of the same light-skin complexion or of the same nationality. I have decided that my goal is to be one of the first high-fashion dark-skin Muslim models there is so that girls can be more open to expressing themselves modestly through style. If I had seen some darker-skin models in fashion growing up, I would have been more comfortable walking around in colorful Abayas or hijabs. Now I do it unapologetically.

What’s a misconception that you think people have about Black Muslim women?
That we practice differently from non-Black Muslim women, which is not true at all. That misconception has been sparked by racism and is something I struggle with when I come across someone who isn’t aware that Islam is one universal religion amongst Muslims, regardless of race. What a non-Black Muslim is allowed to do, I am allowed to do, and vice versa. Being a non-Black Muslim does not make one any less pious than a Black Muslim. This misconception needs to be abolished because it is detrimental.

Name: Munaiya Bilal
Age: 21
Location: Brooklyn, New York

How has your relationship with fashion changed this year?
Fashion has always been a form of expression for me. However, with such a traumatic year that we have faced with 2020, I think my definition of fashion has taken a more meaningful turn. For me right now, fashion isn’t only about individuality and how I choose to showcase my emotions, fashion is about inclusivity and integrity. It’s about incorporating my culture, my background, and the diverse community I live in into the pieces I choose to wear.

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