CoverGirl’s First Covered Girl

Image credits: Covergirl/Lacey Terrell

Image credits: Covergirl/Lacey Terrell

First a Male Covergirl and now a Hijabi Covergirl, ‘CoverGirl’ is challenging all sorts of social norms.

Last month, CoverGirl enrolled James Charles as the magazine’s new ambassador and the news broke the Internet. A CoverBOY? A boy representing a predominantly female magazine? Wow, he’s on fleek! His face is a work of art; he’s all made up with long eyelashes, winged eyeliner and symmetrical eyebrows that even I – a girl – cannot do. CoverGirl gave us all of four weeks to digest this news before they dropped another bombshell on us.

The eminent fashion magazine has recruited a new ambassador, but this time she is a – (gasp) Hijabi! Much like James Charles, Nura Afia is a beauty vlogger with over 200,000 subscribers. She is a Denver-based Muslim originally from Morocco and her YouTube videos teach not just common make-up tutorials, but also explore different methods of tying Hijabs. “I wanted to show people that I can still be married and a mom and do whatever the hell I want; my scarf isn’t going to stop me,” she told Refinery29. By employing Nura to advocate for its #LashEqualitycampaign, ‘CoverGirl’ Magazine is challenging the norm that Hijabis are oppressed Muslims whose scarves (and by extension, religion) restrict them from achieving their dreams or full potential.

covergirl-with-Nura-Afia

Image Credits: CoverGirl/Lacey Terrell

The #LashEquality movement seeks to promote CoverGirl’s #SoLashy mascara, while encouraging equality. “We’ve always stood for inclusive beauty that supports any and all types – from skin types to lash types,” they shared on Instagram. As of now, they have – as their ambassadors – a Latina (Sophia Vergara), two black girls (Chloe and Halle Bailey), a boy (James Charles), Caucasian representatives (pop star Katy Perry and actress Amy Pham) and now a Hijab-wearing Muslim (Nura Afia).

Hijab-wearing Muslims haven’t always been represented in the media – neither on TV nor magazines. You don’t just casually stumble upon a Hijab-wearing Muslim model or actress, unless you actively go and search for them. You normally see skinny white girls playing the roles and if the company prides itself in diversity, maybe a thick, white girl. Very open-minded companies go for black girls, but a Muslim? It’s so rare that when I was reading through articles about businesses that incorporated Hijab-wearing Muslims, I came across descriptions such as “brave” and read how such companies were such risk-takers.

When mainstream media refuses to represent a people, they become marginalized and stigmatized by the general community. Nura Afia shared, with The Denver Post, struggles she faced as a teen who wore Hijabs. “You never saw women in magazines wearing one,” she explained. “I feel like it shows girls that whatever you believe in, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Muslim or an Orthodox Jew, you can stick to your beliefs and pursue your dreams,” she said. “I think it is so important that all different types of religions and races out there are represented.” This “other” classification is not just on TV, but in reality as well. Countries like France have publicly denounced Muslims who wear the Burkini, Hijab-wearing Muslims are “randomly” selected at airport security checks and Trump has frequently discussed imposing restrictions on Muslims entering the United States.

But as of late, Hijab-wearing Muslims are being showcased on different platforms – at least in the fashion industry. H&M recently directed an ad starring a Hijab-wearing Muslim and Uniqlo has partnered with a Muslim designer. Dolce and Gabbana was also widely acclaimed for it’s new Abaya and Hijab line. Hijab-wearing Muslims are making their way into the mainstream fashion world, and are now dipping their toes into the beauty world as well.

CoverGirl has introduced a Hijab-wearing Muslim into the world of all that is beautiful. Young girls can finally find themselves – or role models who look like them – on a global platform that has the word “beauty” written all over it. Nura was bullied as a child because of her bizarre way of dressing, but for CoverGirl, modest (Hijab especially) is the new beautiful!

This article was written in November 2016.
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