Advertising, Fashion, Pop Culture

Yasmeena Rasheed is working for free to offer good representation for Muslim women

It's a bird... it's a plane... it's a hijabi woman on a billboard!

A true spokeswoman for Muslim women, Yasmeena Rasheed is a hijabi influencer who has brought modest fashion back to life. This is somebody who truly wants to change the image of ‘Muslim women’, to just – well, ‘women’.

Her mission stems from her own experiences of living in America, where being Muslim and covering her head resulted in people around her giving her looks and being wary of her presence. At times, she would experience people being openly rude to her. All she wants is for there to be normalcy in seeing someone who covers their head. If there’s a woman wearing a hijab on a billboard, people should look at it and think, “Oh there’s a woman on that billboard.” I just love the thought of this because for mindsets to change to this would be so revolutionary. Why does it have to be, “oh she’s Muslim,” when the only difference between her and the next lady is her faith and maybe a hijab?

In a recent interview with Now This News, Rasheed talks about how she’ll get these incredible opportunities to help further what she’s striving for, and these companies will refuse to pay her, saying ‘her people’, (Muslim women) will benefit from this job, even though others are being paid for the same gig. Rasheed has made it very clear that she’s not in it for the money, and regardless of payment she’ll take a good opportunity, but the fact that she doesn’t get paid for some of the work she does says a lot about how people still view the Muslim community, and how the work she’s doing to represent us is so incredibly important to bring a change.

[Image description: An Instagram post of Yasmeena’s depicting her recent work with H&M] Via Instagram

By working with brands like H&M, she integrates modest fashion into brands we all know so well and makes them seem more accessible, and lets us know that there are more options to choose from. In the aforementioned interview, she also talks about how you can find ‘modest fashion’ in well-known stores like ZARA. By working with these brands and by still doing what she loves, she’s showing us that ‘modest fashion’ isn’t any different and doesn’t change any prospects for that person. She wants to use her platform to make a difference, a change.

In a world where women have fought consistently to dress the way they want, there have been countless movements where women’s fashion has shifted from ‘conservative’ attire to wearing shorts, bikinis, or to simply not cover their heads. Each individual’s fashion choices are their own expression. There is nobody who can dictate what you feel comfortable wearing. But if this is the case, shouldn’t it work the other way around as well? If you don’t feel as comfortable wearing a crop top as when wearing a long sleeved t-shirt, whether that be due to your beliefs, or just your level of comfort, why should that make you any less progressive of a person? For me at least, that’s where Rasheed has been so inspiring.

A lot of the time, I find myself in this awkward position where not wearing a short tight dress to the next big high school party or not showing off ‘enough’ skin will make me feel like a) I’m not dressed up enough, and b) will decrease my enthusiasm in going out twofold. Yasmeena is this refreshing reminder that you can look beautiful in whatever you choose to wear. There are no rules in how you dress because each person is entitled to their own choices.

The exposure she brings to modest fashion is something that I’m truly grateful for, because for someone with my beliefs to see ‘modest’ not being linked to closemindedness – or worse, not being feminine enough, has been so amazing. Seeing someone who wears a hijab be so successful without compromising her personal comfort is truly something that I have gained confidence from. It’s just this cool reminder that you should live according to what makes you feel happy, whether that’s in a hijab, or in a crop top!

Yasmeena Rasheed is curating a message to be unapologetically you in a world that will sometimes try and take advantage of that. But that’s what makes what she stands for even more important.