Female empowerment most definitely should not be looked at through the lens of makeup artists and their likes who promote such beauty products. It is we who create their exaggerated worth and give them legitimacy through their presence on social media.
Recent years have witnessed an unprecedented rise in Muslims youtubers (mainly females) and celebrities featured in all sorts of commercial campaigns and advertisements, in what is being fuelled by a generation of young, impressionable Muslims who are desperately seeking an alternative to the barrage of hypersexualised entertainment content promoted by the Hollywood celebrity culture.
More specifically, there is an increasing trend in the promotion of hijabi characters within the capitalistic fashion industries, whether its Playboy magazine or L’Oreal featuring their first hijabi models, or Muslim youtubers launching their personal cosmetic lines. We ought to ask ourselves, are these appearances a result of the positive shifting attitudes towards Islam and Muslims, one that should be hailed for giving Muslims the much sought ‘representation’ within mainstream enterprises?
How about addressing the root cause of society stripping away self-worth and esteem through obsession with the physical and sexualisation of women, in what are profit-driven endeavours to say the least. Furthermore, have we really thought about the nature of the industries that are ‘representing’ the hijab?
Playboy was pivotal in the sexual revolution of the 70s, in what became the face of soft pornography for mass consumption. Have we thought of L’Oreal that has established Israel as its commercial centre in the Middle East, whilst recently awarding the Israeli Weizmann Institute $100,000, a research centre that develops Israel’s weapons used to ethnically cleanse Palestinians? Should we ignore the fact that the hijab has been reduced to a cultural fashion statement by female Muslim youtubers, finding all the ways possible to exploit their beauty for public approval in the name of “modest fashion”, and who have been integral in pushing shallow “female empowerment” based around makeup?
We ought not to overlook the reality of the entertainment and fashion industry within capitalistic society, that has indeed been pivotal in sexualising society as a whole. Sexualisation is one of the greatest tools used by those in influential positions to gain domination through effectively enslaving the masses, and indeed the hijab is currently being exploited and sexualised. Isn’t the paradoxical situation we find ourselves in, with the mass media on the one hand purporting the hijab as a sign of oppression, schools and workplaces increasingly restricting the practice of hijab, and on the other hand the entertainment industry is promoting it with open arms, to the say the least, deeply alarming and worth questioning?
Indeed, what we witness is nothing but Western capitalism seeking to ‘free’ Muslim women from the ‘oppressive shackles’ imposed on them by Islam, through finally getting them ‘recognized’ and ‘accepted’. The sacred hijab, that by its very definition resists capitalism and its sexualisation of women, has been placed on a spectrum of western capitalistic fashion, precisely to secularise and strip its essence.
However, the hijab when practiced in productive institutions, such as the education and work environment, where we naturally question philosophy, develop our independent personality and engage in critical thinking is viewed as a threat, which is manifested in the increased restrictions placed on its observation in such institutions.
Isn’t that enough for us to see that there is a full blown agenda by those at the top to kill the essence of the hijab and what it stands for? Just think about the consequences that will hit the entertainment industries if people were to adopt the core concept of hijab. Would pornography sell? Would people buy into the fake lives of celebrities? Spending so much buying their illicit music, attending their gigs and just living a life of full distraction from the reality of things? Indeed, the true concept and practice of hijab serves to make one productive in all aspects of their life, and that is a huge threat to the nature of our capitalist society that thrives in infatuating the masses with materialism, in order to maximise profit and distract us from the core issues.
Such celebrities are being monopolized in the bid to sell us how Western ideals define the hijab; that is what is being normalized. Everything outside of that will be defined as “extreme” or “over the top”. It is not surprising that many young Muslim females today are struggling to adhere to the hijab, when female Muslim representation in commercial industries is nothing short of competing for sexual appeal.
Indeed, the celebrities and particularly the youtubers themselves argue “let me do me”, and “it’s between me and God, what’s it to do with anyone?” And that is what the consumerist, individualistic celebrity culture is all about. Forget about the consequences, just “do what makes you happy”. You don’t get to do that when you are someone known and watched by millions across the globe. Yes, I have the right to call out the dangerous trend we’ve been witnessing, with many of these youtubers posting inappropriate pictures online, talking openly about their sins, using dirty language, promoting and fervently encouraging the use of makeup and botox.
The reality is that what our impressionable youngsters are trying to escape is being packaged in a more subtle and milder way, with the appearance of it being ‘lawful’. For example, it is obvious someone like Kim Kardashian promotes a culture of extreme sexualisation and the sickening obsession with the physical, therefore most female Muslims most probably won’t look up to her. However, when you have Muslim youtubers promoting and teaching young girls to wear makeup or themselves post inappropriate pictures in public, with hundreds and thousands of followers, then that is still promoting the obsession with the physical, however in a way where young Muslim girls relate to it and is thereby more influential.
This notion of false feminism that boils “female empowerment” down to “choice”, regardless of the nature of this “choice” is what is being presented to us through these youtubers, subconsciously. How is it by any measure empowering to define the worth of a woman through her sexual appeal? Female empowerment most definitely should not be looked at through the lens of makeup artists and their likes who promote such beauty products. It is we who create their exaggerated worth and give them legitimacy through their presence on social media.
The access we have to technology and its potential is an exciting prospect, but its influence at the same time is deeply worrying. If one’s foundation and intention isn’t strong when entering the realm of fame, then this can be very dangerous since when fame takes over, they lose sense of who they were, their values become secondary and maintaining their fame seems to be more important than anything else. The reality is that these youtubers have many impressionable fans who admire them and want to emulate them. So, whenever they’re doing something wrong in front of camera, they are opening the gates of indecency into millions of homes. This certainly isn’t about judging people’s souls, but the damage they’re now causing may soon become irreversible.