L’Oréal featured a woman adorned in a hijab, the veil used by many Muslim women, in its newest shampoo advertisement.
“Hair is a woman’s beauty,” the hijab-adorned Amena Khan says in the commercial, “make sure you look after it.” But the woman’s hair isn’t visible.
“How many brands are doing things like this? Not many,” Khan added. “They’re literally putting a girl in a headscarf ― whose hair you can’t see ― in a hair campaign. Because what they’re really valuing through the campaign is the voices that we have.”
A game changing new campaign!!! 👏🏽❤️ So… lately I’ve had a complex relationship with my hair feeling lacklustre. When I take off my scarf, I want my hair to be more radiant – don’t we all? 🙆🏽♀️✨ I’m so excited and incredibly proud to announce that I‘m part of the new L’Oreal Paris Elvive World of Care Campaign which showcases Elvive’s breadth of products catering to a wide range of demanding hair types. I’m The Pink One which has been specially formulated for dull hair to boost shine. @lorealhair #WORLDOFCARE #ELVIVEXRANKIN #ALLWORTHIT #AD
“You have to wonder ― why is it presumed that women who don’t show their hair don’t look after it?” Khan asked. “The opposite of that would be that everyone that does show their hair only looks after it for the sake of showing it to others. And that mindset strips us of our autonomy and our sense of independence. Hair is a big part of self-care.”
Khan is the first hijab-adorned woman to be featured in a hair product advertisement.
“How great of a message is that to send to every young girl out there?” Khan asked in the Vogue UK interview. “For me, my hair is an extension of my femininity. I love styling my hair, I love putting products in it, and I love it to smell nice. It’s an expression of who I am.”
“I didn’t start wearing a headscarf until I was in my twenties, but even prior to that I didn’t see anyone I could relate to in the media. It was always a cause of celebration when you saw a brown face on television!” Khan said. “I always wanted to be somehow in television or in media but it felt like a pipe dream and that’s why I didn’t pursue it, because I didn’t think there would be anything for me. Which is a shame. I think seeing a campaign like this would have given me more of a sense of belonging.”
“L’Oréal Paris UK are both proud and excited to be launching such a unique and disruptive campaign for the haircare market, a category which in previous years has been perceived as the cliché of beauty advertising,” Adrien Koskas, L’Oréal Paris UK general manager, said about the new campaign.
How have some other prominent muslim women handled the hijab?
The L’Oréal campaign is the latest celebration of the hijab, which many critics have labeled a sign of oppression.
In an opinion piece for the New York Times, journalism professor and former writer for the Wall Street Journal Asra Nomani wrote that women who support the hijab “stand on the wrong side of a lethal war of ideas that sexually objectifies women as vessels for honor and temptation, absolving men of personal responsibility.”
Dorsa Derakhshani, a former member of the Iranian National Chess Team who’s currently a college student in the U.S., now refuses to wear the hijab — which led the Iranian government to declare that she may no longer compete in Iran.
In February 2017, Nazi Paikidze, reigning American chess champion, did the same.