Just did it?


Karen Sanchez

As students enter the locker rooms and change for P.E., few think twice about the days activities. However, for Nur Khan, now a senior in middle college, P.E. was a struggle. Wearing layer on top of layer was too much for her to deal with everyday, not to mention her hijab constantly shifting out of place. Eventually Khan decided to stop wearing the hijab during P.E. because the class had become a burden.

Photo| Creative Commons, Zharif Hussein
Photo| Creative Commons, Zharif Hussein

So, when she first came across the news of Nike’s new line of Pro Hijabs, Khan was happy that Muslims were getting the recognition they deserve. On the other hand, she thinks recognition should have been given long ago to the Muslim community.

 However in the midst of positive responses, she has a hard time understanding why the new collection is such a big deal. Senior Nadaa Moharram, another hijabi athlete, played basketball for three years but, unlike Khan, she never really found the hijab to be much of an issue. However, she knows people who had trouble with it and so Moharram is able to sympathize with others who have the same problem.

The Pro Hijab can be seen as a step forward, but not anything major. There is debate over how much it really affects the Muslim community.

“Everybody’s saying it’s such a big deal and I’m trying to understand why. You recognize us so we should thank you?” Moharram said. “We’re part of the society, of course we should be recognized. We shouldn’t be bending on our knees thanking you. You’re not God. Now that we’re included, thanks … should’ve been done a century ago.”

No brand should be glorified for including a community that should have been included in the first place. The fact that it’s Nike doesn’t mean they deserve any more recognition than the Muslim businesses who have been creating the same product for many years.

Khan thinks the Muslim community should support the Muslim owned companies because the smaller companies aren’t receiving the recognition they deserve.

Moharram, while she acknowledges the fact that other companies have been producing these hijabs for years, understands there is a lack of variety. As someone who visits Egypt, she has a place where she can buy hijabs and other apparel. But that’s not the case for some of her friends and she’s glad they have a new option.

Illustration| Creative Commons
Illustration| Creative Commons

Khan explains that, though she is happy that they’re being recognized, there are downsides. Even with Muslims being recognized by one of the biggest brands in the world, still mostly lighter skinned women are featured, according to Khan.

“When [magazines] try to include people of color, they include lighter skinned people, people with Eurocentric features,” Khan said. “If they had included more Muslim women –– real Muslim women that –- would have been amazing.”

Senior Neelufar Raja, though she is not a hijabi but practices Islam, feels that the Nike hijab would be beneficial to her friends. However, when hearing about the Muslim companies versus Nike both creating hijabs, she responded similarly to Khan.

“I think that with Nike’s introduction of their Pro Hijab [they have] definitely gotten a lot more attraction but I also agree that you shouldn’t say that they are the only ones that have ever done [this],” Raja said.

However, Raja acknowledges that because she doesn’t wear a hijab, her experiences differ than her friends who do and so she understands that Nike’s new product may have less of an impact to her.
She feels that this is certainly a step forward for Muslims as a group and Khan and Moharram supported this feeling.

“[They’re] saying, ‘hey look, these are actual people in society that have these problems,’” Khan said. “People don’t understand that it’s really hard to be a Muslim girl and an athlete so I think it’s great [and] sends a good message [to the Muslim society].”