The year 2020 will be known as the year of many changes. We have grown through a pandemic and now we are going through a series of murders and instances where it has become painfully obvious that our black brothers and sisters need solidarity. But another shift in 2020 will be the fall of modest fashion influencers. And I am not sorry about that one bit.
I think many of you remember when I was blogging about modest skirts, cute hijabs, and Follow Friday’s. I felt it was an amazing way to get fashion inspiration and share a way to bring Muslims into lifestyle conversations. But shortly after Protection Edge in Gaza, I realized that my fluffy frothy blog posts just weren’t right. I didn’t want to blog anymore.
In the meantime, Muslim and modest fashion influencers were on the rise and heading to NYFW and nabbing amazing contracts with big companies to create products or hawk products. We even got our own museum exhibit (that I helped give feedback on called Contemporary Muslim Fashion at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco.) I was excited, but wary at how quickly companies wanted to make money off of modest fashion without really giving back to the community.
Then came the flock of Muslim fashion influencers who took off their hijabs. Starting with Hijablog and Winnie Detwa and ending with Dina Tokio and Ascia AKF, these influencers amassed large Muslim followings, profited off these followers, and then took off their hijabs. That is between them and God. But it seems telling that the very fashion influencers who posted daily selfies and photos of only themselves day after day decided to remove yet one more reminder of faith in their lives.
The very idea of being an influencer in terms of self-centric content is antithetical to Islam. Islam teaches us to be humble and to be a slave of God. Yet, being an influencer means you are cool and live a life that others covet and will follow. I don’t mean to say that all influencers are like this. But the influencers who share ONLY about their lifestyle, their bodies and their wealth are not only harming themselves, they are harming all of us.
This year, we saw this is painfully clear. While modest influencers should have stepped up and shown solidarity with our black brothers and sisters, we have seen them blissfully unaware and posting their pastel outfits of the day and complaining about being locked up at home instead of being able to travel on their luxury vacations to create content for us to consume. It all reeked of privilege and we are all guilty for following it.
Withloveleena’s Leena Snoubar took it a step further when she not only did NOT show solidarity and posted a tone deaf pregnancy outfit shortly after George Floyd’s death by Minneapolis police, she started to SILENCE black voices on her Instagram account (which I refuse to link back to) including black stylist HakeemahCMB who then had to share an Instagram Story replete with screenshots. What broke my heart is how she is expecting a child and yet couldn’t understand that a grown man crying for his mom in his last moments deserved some attention on her account.
Muslim modest influencers have taken the stance that if you don’t agree with them 100% then you are being “negative” and only ask for “good vibes only” from their followers. However they fail to realize that history was almost always made with dissent. Not censorship.
On top of Muslim influencers in fashion silencing black voices we have the final nail on the coffin. More tone deaf content that is created to monetize off of Muslims.
Amena Khan, who I have followed and blogged about for ten years has not only ignored the Black Lives Matters movement except for a small black tile on grid, she has drowned out black voices by shifting the conversation to HER. She made an announcement in the middle of a watershed moment of the Black Lives Matters movement to take off her hijab. Just to be clear: all of these ladies are free to do that. My only issue is how she announced it NOW. When we should only be talking about Black Lives Matters. It’s the antithesis of being an ally. Not only that, she announced it with a video aimed at monetizing views. Disgusting.
So I am here to say that YOU hold the power here. Unfollow people who are not helping you grow as a person. Don’t let them damage your self-esteem, your worth, and let you forget about the social issues that matter. They may have built their influence, but what’s an influencer without followers? Break the wheel. Even if it means you stop following me too.