A popular opinion in the Western world is hijab is oppressive. But there are a group of Muslim women that are harnessing the power of social media to try to change that. Enter the world of hijabi social media influencers. Today we will get to know why would anyone want to be a hijabi influencer with Inaam Itani.
Who is Inaam Itani?
Inaam Itanii is an Arab – Canadian wife and mother of four children. Four years ago she began sharing posts of her outfits on her Instagram page as a hobby. She now shares videos and stories in Arabic to engage with her Arab audience in Canada, as well as in English, especially for brand collaborations.
Her social media influencer story
After moving to Canada four years ago, she began sharing posts to Instagram to combat homesickness as well as something to pass the time. She would share pictures of her outfits and makeup skills while working on improving them.
At first, her followers were Egyptians who were fascinated by her experiences as a Muslim hijabi in Canada. But by 2018 when she switched her Insta profile from personal to business, her audience had grown. She was now sharing things she loved with her Arab Canadian audience.
Her page reflects the real life of a hijabi living in Canada. Her profile consists of lifestyle content from restaurant recommendations, kids’ activities, hijab fashion, and various promotions.
Why social media?
The popularity of visibly Muslim women has risen over the last few years and has become even more popular due to social media, especially visual platforms like Instagram.
With Muslim women taking back the reins and sharing whatever they want to share, it’s a way for them to control how they are portrayed.
But are there downsides to this? Here’s what an Arab Canadian influencer who wears hijab had to say.
Influencer vs Content Creator
There are many terms used to describe individuals who are popular on social media platforms such as Instagram. Influencer, content creator, blogger, each term carrying its own weight.
So which term does Inaam use?
Fashion bloggers focus on fashion inspiration, hacks, and how to style outfits, and even though Inaam shares posts of her #OOTD (outfit of the day) she prefers the term influencer.
Inaam shares more lifestyle-inspired content such as restaurant and hotel recommendations, attractions in the city she lives in or visits, or snapshots of her everyday life such as school trips and going to college. But COVID put a halt to that.
The term hijabi influencer is one Inaam embrace, noting that it’s what makes her and her platform different. And despite hijabi influencers becoming more unique in a less-religious world, Inaam doesn’t shy away from using her platform to share posts about Islam, being a Muslim, a hijabi, and a mom living in Canada.
Talking hijab fashion
For some people, hijab and fashion are viewed as two opposite sides of a spectrum. But for others, the two can intertwine. There are different terms used for hijab and fashion: modest fashion and hijab fashion. So what do these terms mean to someone who’s in the industry?
For Inaam, modest fashion is fashion with less skin-revealing outfits due to religious or cultural background. Hijab fashion has a certain set of rules it must abide by. And while all hijab fashion is modest fashion, not all modest fashion would be hijab appropriate. Inaam prefers the term hijab fashion – ”you can look beautiful and elegant in hijab.”
Her hijab can be a barrier for big brand collaborations as hijabi influencers have to put in more work to have the same reach as non-hijabi influencers. Though she’d like to work with them, her goal is to continue sharing a hijabi’s life with her Muslim audience before her non–Muslim one.
For Inaam, fashion brand collaborations are usually with Muslim-owned stores, with her favorite brand to date being Modanisa.
The judgy world of influencers
In the last couple of years, there have been a few hijabi social media influencers who have recently removed their hijabs and many have a lot to say. We wanted to know Inaam’s thoughts on this.
Inaam believes it’s each woman’s choice and right to wear whatever they want but she says, “I feel sad when it happens. But people change and their perspective on things change”.
In the influencer world, it’s difficult to keep it on. One has to be brave to deal with people judging your religion or your level of it. Plus there are increased difficulties in getting hired or entering certain resorts or countries due to wearing the hijab.
In the world of social media, followers feel included in the lives of their favorite influencers. So when influencers make big changes to their lives, there is usually a slew of comments from their following.
In the relationship between influencer and followers, how far does this relationship extend? How much of a responsibility do influencers have towards their followers?
Inaam’s advice to aspiring social media hijabi influencers
“Do it if you love it. It’s a long, beautiful, and sometimes frustrating journey. If you’re doing it because you’re fascinated by influencers’ lives behind the screen, know that influencers’ lives look better in pictures.”
As with anything, there are perks and drawbacks, and that is especially true in this new influencer world created by social media. While there have been strides made in terms of hijab becoming more “mainstream” the question we still ask is at what cost? Are Muslim women truly benefitting from this?
For some, including the social media influencers, the answer is a definite yes, as they’ve made a career out of being an influencer. For others, seeing fellow Muslims proudly wearing the hijab gives them the courage to do so in their daily lives. But on the flip side, the idea that the hijab can be commodified is antithetical to the notion of hijab itself.
It’s a question that’s been asked and will continue to be asked, what does hijab mean to you?
Here’s where you can follow her: