Breaking the news and fashion norms, rising model Maria Al-Sadek is taking the industry by storm.
Although popular retailers have recently been making strides towards diversity in representing different body types (such as Nike’s new plus-size mannequins), Al-Sadek further diversifies fashion by representing Muslim values of modesty in her stylish Instagram pics. In an age where see-through crop tops and barely-there bikinis dominate front-page fashion news, the model’s choice of the hijab and full-length dresses has caught the attention of many.
But she’s not doing it for likes or as a bold fashion statement. “If I didn’t wear a headscarf, people wouldn’t instantly see my culture or my religion,” she explained to the New York Post in an interview. “I’m really proud of where I’m from. I like having that symbol and people knowing what I’m about.”
The 27-year-old influencer lived in Mobile, Alabama for most of her life with her Puerto Rican mother and Palestinian-immigrant father. She was 14 when she first wore the hijab – a headscarf Muslim women traditionally wear to symbolize modesty, obedience to the Koran, and cultural pride. However, as a fashion-obsessed teenager, Al-Sadek was often disenchanted with the lack of representation of girls who looked like her in magazines and advertisements.
“I just didn’t feel like I fully fit in, even though I’m so into [fashion].”
Now living in Brooklyn after graduating from the University of Southern Alabama in marketing management, Al-Sadek is basically a self-made model. What began as a fun hobby posting Instagram pics of herself in outfits quickly grew into over 400,000 followers. Before too long, she was getting calls to model for companies like Marc Jacobs and Armani.
Al-Sadek reflects back to her younger self and hopes she can impact other young Muslim girls by staying true to her values while pursuing her passion. Her presence in the female fashion world will likely be a huge stride towards inclusivity in the representation of who a woman is in the media. Hopefully there will be a day when articles like this won’t need to exist because all women are represented equally.
So what do you think? Is she a catwalk queen or not really your scene?