Fashion and beauty blogger Amena Khan just became the first hijab-wearing model to star in a L’Oreal hair campaign.
The U.K.-based blogger spoke about her hair in a recent commercial for the company’s Elvive line — a range of products for all types of hair.
“Whether or not your hair is on display, it doesn’t affect how much you care about it,” she said in the campaign.
“I’ve had a complex relationship with my hair feeling lack lustre. When I take off my scarf, I want my hair to be more radiant — don’t we all?,” she later wrote on Instagram.
I arrived to a set that was beyond anything I could imagine. With several open studio areas spread across a giant building, the first thing that hit me was the scale of the project. There were colourful sets assembled with multiple people behind the cameras. Amongst the buzzing of constant activity, the crew & @lorealhair team would often smile & say hello, always welcoming. Shoots like this are invariably stressful somewhere along the line, but I didn’t detect a hint of that. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀In the makeup room, I couldn’t contain my excitement about the project. @karindarnell regaled us with stories about the celeb world (being Riri’s MUA), all the while swiftly working her magic with makeup. We exchanged stories of working & of motherhood. @neelamkg joined us. Being an internationally successful model, I’m always struck by how “real” & humble she is. All 3 of us chatted away about life, triumph & sacrifice. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Lunch was great – lots of Vegan options so I was happy. The atmosphere was energised, especially as @ling.kt was on my table. She uplifts everyone around her. I ate quickly as we had some outdoor photography to do. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Our beloved weather did the predictable… as we stood at the main door, it started to drizzle. But before I knew it, someone had slipped a robe & slippers on me. There I was, in a van with 5 other people from the team, driving down to the canal in the area. It was surreal but exhilarating. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Back at the studio, super friendly @francescajordan did touch ups as it grew closer to my turn. The photographer was the legendary genius, @rankinarchive. A quiet, down to earth man, he was deliberate & thoughtful in every shot. I felt confident, unexpectedly calm & filled with gratitude. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Then came the interview. @lillycon, the interviewer, put me at ease quickly. She has the kind of vibe that makes it easy to speak with honesty – to just be yourself. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀When the long day finished & I was back on the train home, I reflected… not on how awesome this campaign (obviously) is, but more on the kindness I was privileged to have encountered that day (in so many more ways), & the beauty in connection between human beings <3
Khan also gave her followers an account of what it was like to shoot with the cosmetics and hair care company.
“When the long day finished [and] I was back on the train home, I reflected … not on how awesome this campaign (obviously) is, but more on the kindness I was privileged to have encountered that day (in so many more ways), [and] the beauty in connection between human beings.”
Challenging beauty standards
Speaking with Vogue U.K. last week, Khan said hair is a big part of self-care.
“Why is it presumed that women that don’t show their hair don’t look after it? 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.”
She also applauded the brand for recognizing her voice.
“How many brands are doing things like this? Not many. 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,” she told the magazine.
In 2016, hijab-wearing beauty blogger Nura Afia made headlines after becoming one of CoverGirl’s brand ambassadors, CNN reports, and last year, singer Rihanna featured hijabi model Halima Aden in her beauty campaign for her line Fenty.
Social media reacts
While social media sites have been filled with hateful, ignorant and Islamophobic comments around Khan’s new campaign, many users on her Instagram page pointed out the importance of representation.
Others were quick to point out if the company was just using diversity to sell products, either way, it started a conversation about being inclusive.
“I love that Loreal is paying attention to women that wear a hijab, because we are all women with the same concerns,” user faith4nancy wrote.
“This is an incredible step… thank you @lorealhair and thank you @amenaofficial, you really are breaking the barriers and standing out as a great role mode,” user mashhudah wrote.
“It’s so difficult to be heard as a woman and to know that @lorealhair have gone far and beyond to not only include women and empower them but to include all types of woman and a woman guarding her modesty is something else,” user belledame_folle wrote.
“Never thought I’d see a [woman in a] hijab doing a shampoo commercial,” user hawaosman wrote.