Over the weekend social media went ballistic when news circulated online of the American Muslim hijabi journalist, Noor Tagouri being featured in Playboy magazine. Some were proud to see such a divergent and daring step taken by the 22-year-old reporter, others not so much. Muslims especially, instead of supporting her, argued that it was irrational and wrong to support Noor's appearance in an institution based on the objectification of women which opposes the entire idea of modesty.
What saddened me about this whole controversy is that most of the people criticising Tagouri's interview were ones totally oblivious to the actual content, of it which had nothing to do with what Playboy is famously known for. They were fuming at the mere fact that the word 'hijabi' and 'Playboy' were being used in the same sentence.
I can understand why this was frowned upon from a Muslim perceptive and a female perspective too. Misogyny goes against the values of both - something which Playboy has been famously known for. But I think we're missing the point here, Playboy magazine readers are a whole different audience, a fresh platform where Noor was able to talk about herself as a Muslim, as a hijab-wearing journalist and as a woman. I think that itself is amazing. What is the likelihood that the readership of Playboy will be the same people to read a Muslim magazine where a hijabi woman is attempting to break stereotypes? How effective is that? Not so much because the readers already know the subject matter inside and out. What Noor has done by allowing Playboy to publish her interview is she is making a wider political point by being her actual self; A Muslim hijabi Journalist, nothing to do with nudity or objectification.
Especially after the constant negative swathes of news about the Burkini ban, this was the most positive piece I've read about someone in a hijab.
In the interview Noor says
"Being a hijabi Muslim woman helps me gain trust. I say, 'I know what it's like to be misrepresented in the media. I won't do that to you.'"
The photographs of her that were published alongside the interview were ones of her in her modest clothing style which she usually wears.
The actual interview highlights her great achievements from her very first #LetNoorShine campaign, which went viral, to her recent collaboration with street wear brand Lis'n Up Clothing on a fashion line in which half proceeds go to Project Futures, an anti-human-trafficking organisation. The immense positive work that Noor has and is currently doing has been thoughtlessly ignored by some readers who seem more fixated on the mere fact that she is a 'hijabi' appearing in such a magazine.
Whilst Noor's interview was one which shed light on the optimistic approach of her being a head-scarf wearing woman in the media, the reaction of vast Muslim readers pushed the whole idea into the dark.
Noor has made an extremely brave move and foresaw the backlash that followed. I think it's time people stop assuming or ascribing the intent of a person wearing a hijab. It might be religious, political, both, or neither, and so what if Playboy was a means to making a point, it's only a platform and if the opportunity is there why not take it?
As Noor said at the end of the interview- "Do good, stay fearless and remember that everything you want is just outside your comfort zone."