Haute hijab

How three trailblazing Muslim fashion bloggers are redefining the idea of modesty.

As she filters and crops her next Instagram post, Roda Hussen, an Ottawa based hijabi fashion blogger, reflects on how she never expected to gain such popularity. “It was always just a hobby for me. I didn’t realize people were actually following what I wore until I saw the numbers rise,” she says.

Thanks to social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram, the popularity of hijabi fashion bloggers worldwide has spiked tremendously over the past few years. The internet has given fashion and beauty lovers from all over the world a chance to showcase their talents and individuality.

Although fashion is not the answer to integration and socialization for Muslim women, it is the answer to representation and representation in today’s political climate is essential. The rise of hijabi bloggers has influenced mega brands and fashion houses to be more inclusive and diverse in their campaigns. With Nura Afia, a YouTube beauty guru turned CoverGirl ambassador, Amena Khan a UK blogger turned L’Oreal spokeswomen and Ruba Zai, a street style influencer turned Dolce and Gabbana muse, there’s no stopping these hijabi trailblazers. There is certainly no shortage of inspiration for fashion that is both modern and modest.

In Ottawa, the hijabi fashion blogger scene continues to grow on and off campus. There are more than sixty hijabi fashion bloggers in town. Here are three of them you should definitely check out:

Roda Hussen AKA @RodaSoda_

Age: 27

Algonquin College: business administration

Favourite hijabi bloggers: Dina Tokio, Sabina Hannan, Habiba Da Silva

Hussen started wearing the hijab when she was 8-years-old and has been committed to it ever since. “I’ve been wearing it so long that it’s become such a huge part of me. It’s like putting on a shirt or shoes before leaving the house, you never think to go without it,” says Hussen.

Hussen started “taking blogging seriously” about a year ago after feeling inspired by other hijabi bloggers. “Nowadays there are so many hijabi bloggers, the style has evolved so much over the years,” she says. She describes her personal style as “feminine with a kick.” Hussen mastered her personal style four years ago after learning how to balance trends while sticking to the requirements of wearing a hijab. “You can’t just put anything on and walk out the door,” she says. “I guess that’s where my fashionista side comes out, you have to mix and match and get creative.”

Hijabis are often sandwiched between criticism coming from all directions. On one hand there are people who oppose the hijab and believe the ideology behind it is primitive and oppressive. On the other, there are fellow Muslims who believe that beauty and fashion bloggers aren’t representing the hijab in line with their perspective. Hussen experienced being caught in this kind of crossfire in 2010 when she was forced to take down her YouTube channel after receiving hate comments.

“Some of the comments are really horrible,” she says. “I try really hard not to get involved in those petty arguments, but sometimes it’s hard.”

Luckily, Hussen has since brought back her channel. “It’s not supposed to be easy to be a hijabi,” she says. “And the struggle only makes it more empowering.”

As for the continued growth of hijab popularity, Hussen is all for it. “I want to see hijabi’s everywhere, I want us to get the recognition we deserve,” she says. “We influenced each other locally for so long, but now it’s time we influence each other globally.”Amina Dimia AKA @TheeUrbanVeil

Age: 24

Everest College: dental assisting

Favourite hijabi bloggers: VelaScarves, MariaaAlia, SabrineCat

Dimia started documenting her “sporty-luxe” style on Instagram a little over a year ago. She credits the inspiration behind her sporty street style to brands like Adidas and Nike. “I don’t think it’s difficult to balance modern and modest these days,” she says. “Hijabi-friendly style is in these days.”

With 90s influences like over-sized sweaters, mom jeans and maxi anything, Dimia believes it’s easier now more than ever to dress modestly and remain stylish. “I’ve always been modest, even before I started wearing the hijab at 19. The transition wasn’t very hard for me,” she says.

Yasmine Abouzeeni AKA @YasmineXAZ

Age: 29

University of Windsor: chemistry

Favourite hijabi bloggers: Dina Tokio, Ascia AKF, WithLoveLeena

After moving to Ottawa from Windsor four years ago, Abouzeeni started blogging as family and friends encouraged and inspired her to do so. She was a professional makeup artist for seven years prior to starting her Instagram. “My proudest moment was when I was able to quit my job and blog full-time,” says Abouzeeni.

Running a fashion and makeup based Instagram was just a hobby until brands and companies started reaching out to Abouzeeni to review and promote their items.

Abouzeeni tapped into the fashion world after she felt there was a high demand for modest and plus-size fashion inspiration. “I just try to find pieces that compliment my body without being too revealing,” she says. She calls styling herself in a modest fashion “Muslimifying” her looks.

She believes that hijabi makeup and fashion influencers are normalizing the hijab. More so, being represented in popular media opens up a conversation which can help us reach a new level of understanding.

Abouzeeni believes, now more than ever, that the fashion industry is on our side and with the rise of Islamaphobia, it is vital to use your platform to shed these stereotypes. “The more people see hijabis in these popular campaigns, the less people are able to blanket Muslims under one specific banner,” she says.

For Abouzeeni, running a blog is about much more than just style and vanity. “My intention is to give women of all religions and races confidence through skincare, makeup and fashion,” she says. “Perception is key.”