Perspective: H&M model Mariah Idrissi spearheading fashion revolution - The South End: Arts & Entertainment

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Perspective: H&M model Mariah Idrissi spearheading fashion revolution

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Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 1:45 pm

Battling the pervasiveness of racism is a long and a seemingly endless road. H&M, the second largest global retailer, took the first step down that rocky path.

Mariah Idrissi, the hijabi 23-year-old model, stars in the H&M’s latest denim campaign, “Close the Loop,” to foster the idea of eco-friendly, maintainable fashion all through recycling.

To most, a scarf-wearing model is unheard of. The brand’s new campaign encourages "no rules in fashion" and aims to liberate fashion appreciators. The process starts with Idrissi, who is spearheading a fashion revolution; this "modesty movement" doesn't discriminate, you can be of any religion, race, culture or ethnicity.

Idrissi exemplifies the notion that beauty and modesty should not be mutually exclusive. Wearing a headscarf or dressing modestly does not make you any less beautiful than someone who chooses to wear less modest clothing.

H&M is paving the way to breaking the religious misconception that Muslim women are oppressed because they are covered. By embracing this fashion trend, H&M is challenging stereotypes that the media so often perpetuates. H&M is  telling the stories of Muslim women and by letting women continue to feel empowered and confident — even with a modest wardrobe.

“All these major retailers claim diversity, yet none of them have ever used a Muslim woman in a hijab,” Idrissi said in an interview with CNN’s Amara Walker.

And it’s true. Idrissi is the first hijabi to model for a global retailer. With millions of Muslim women worldwide who choose to wear the hijab, Idrissi is representing these masses of educated and “moderate” Muslim women who are liberated by being modest.

Idrissi is telling not only her story, but also the stories of all women who choose to dress like her. Through her style, through her confidence, Idrissi stands out in a world where originality is sometimes rare to find.

It's a common societal norm for people to think that the more skin you show, the sexier you are and therefore the more beautiful you are. It's what we see on social media, in magazines and on the streets. Idrissi is now challenging that norm, telling the public that there is more than one kind of beauty, more than one kind of “chic” and more than one kind of style.

The brand’s new stance is telling everyone that they have a right to feel beautiful, even if it's a different standard of beauty.

But the hijab is not just about the outside appearance, Idrissi further explained in her interview with Walker. It’s also about presenting yourself and how you speak to others. It’s about having self-respect and confidence even while standing out.

In a country known for its religious and ethnic diversity, it’s about time that the minorities are treated equally with the majority. Styles differ from person to person, and it’s time for it to be recognized and respected.

H&M, thank you for making so many others and myself feel welcome in a fashion industry that’s normally exclusive, and thank you for showing the fashion industry that “covering up” can be the new  “retro chic.”

Contact Arts and Entertainment Editor Mayssa Masri: 248-924-7406 or mayssamasri.tse@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mayssamasri

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