“Also I think it’s funny that you’re a model because in reality that is against what the Muslim faith believes in” – Vanessa Perilman.
It’s easy to make loaded statements about a religion, ethnicity, or generally any phenomena without a conscious regard to the weight and accuracy of these statements. To make any claim about Islam, or generally any faith, we should always do our best in ensuring that these claims are cautiously and mindfully developed. While it is partially true that being a model in Islamic countries is not as popular and acceptable as non-Muslim countries, that is ultimately a product of culture and not religion. So to say that being a model is “against the beliefs of Muslim faith”, is not only inherently untrue but it is a lazy and unthinking belief of what being a Muslim actually entails.
While religion and culture are often intertwined, they are two separate entities. And when we attach truths to either one, we must always distinguish between the two. After all, we are responsible for what we say, and this is why Vanessa Perilman should be held accountable to the inaccuracy of her claims. In view of that, we’ve compiled a list of 15 internationally successful Muslim Models who have not only empowered their personas alongside their faith, but ultimately through it as well.
Salma Abu Deif
Abu Deif is an Egyptian actress and model with Next Management Milano. She was featured as Vogue Magazine’s cover star in 2018.
Gigi and Bella Hadid are both Palestinian-Dutch models who have succesfully made it all the way through in their modelling careers. Gigi made her debut in the Top 50 Models ranking at models.com. As for Bella, she was voted “Model of the Year” for models.com in 2016.
Salman, Saudi-Arabian model with a skin condition called vitiligo, joined forces with Winnie Harlow with the same condition, to beautifully disclose their magnetic and startlingly similar faces. The two models teamed up to embody empowerment and self-acceptance.
Hanaa Ben Abdesslem
Hanaa is a Tunisian model who has worked with designers such as Jean Paul Gautier, Chanel, and Anna Sui. She is the first Muslim spokesmodel for the French perfume Lancome, and the first Arab model to be featured in the Pirelli calendar.
Aden is a Somali-American fashion model who is “noted for being the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant”.
Growing up in Morocco, a country that back in the day had only one modeling agency, Sahli definitely stands out. She arrived in New York from Casablanca in 2011, and had already worked for designers such as Marc Jacobs and Kenzo.
Hammam is a Dutch model of Moroccan and Egyptian descent. She has used her Muslim roots to support Islamic causes such as Alhuda Foundation Fishers, a mosque in Indiana. She appeared on the most international Vogue covers of any model in 2017.
Shaik is an Australian Victoria’s Secret model, who was raised by her Saudi-Pakastani father and Lithuanian-Australian mother. Her father appreciates and respects her career, as Shaik remarks.
Tunisian model Fourati, has gone on to front covers such as Vogue Paris and Sports Illustrated. She was the first Arab and Muslim woman to be featured in the latter publication.
The Swedish-born Somali model Abdi, was the UK’s first hijabi model to be featured on the cover of Vogue at the age of 21.
Idrissi made herself prominently known in 2015, when she became the face of H&M’s “Close The Loop” campaign, making her the first Muslim hijabi model. She is Pakastani-Moroccan, and is known for her flawless modesty.
Moroccan-British model, Attal, was featured in Vogue UK and Vogue Arabia, with campaigns for JW Anderson and Burberry.
Fourati is a Tunisian-French model, and ultimately a beauty. She has travelled the world for shoots in leading publications such as Vogue and Elle.
Sonia Ben Ammar
Of French-Tunisian descent, Sonia has done campaigns for Miu Miu and Dolce & Gabbana.
Moroccan model Benchegra is the epitome of Arab beauty in the modeling industry. She has shot for Anastasia Beverly Hills and Victoria’s Secret sleepwear and workout collection.
After all, times are changing, and views are evolving, and it’s great to see that these women are leading a way that was not always open for them. It is important that we remain educated about the evolution of ideas and views, and more so, let go of an unwarranted level of rigidity and ignorance.