Stunning New H&M Ad Challenges Beauty Standards, Features Hijab-Wearing Model [WATCH]

You’re going to want to see this edgy, cool new H&M ad, and not just because it promotes recycling old clothing.

H&M has shot an ad featuring stunning individuals who challenge those tired old beauty norms, and teach us that each of us is unique and beautiful in our own way. The ad features the first hijab-wearing model to appear in a major clothing retailer’s commercial. It also features a transgender model, plus-size models, and an amputee model, with the result packing a major wallop.

It’s refreshing to see H&M embrace “imperfect” beauty in their models, as well as showcase the individual beauty of people who are marginalized or virtually ignored in the world of fashion.

The one particular aspect of this cool minute-and-a-half spot that has the media buzzing is 23-year-old model Mariah Idrissi. Idrissi is a Londoner who has been wearing hijab since she made the decision at 17 years old, and she built a following on Instagram by sharing her gorgeous selfies and by sharing her story. H&M found her on Instagram, highlighting her story and her beauty.

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Idrissi recently opened up about her experience with H&M, and about her decision to be in the campaign materials. At first, she said, she was skeptical H&M would want her. “Are you sure they know I wear hijab?” she asked the model scout who first “discovered” her.

During the shoot, Idrissi says, the cameraman and the crew were all very respectful of her modesty, providing a separate, private dressing area for her and making sure she was never touched by a man.

“If the cameramen noticed something not quite right, they would call a woman over to fix me, it was sweet. One of the watches was dangling in the wrong way, and rather than just twisting it on my wrist, the cameraman asked a woman to come over. It just showed that little bit of respect.”

Idrissi’s inclusion in this campaign is a major step for hijabi (women who wear hijab) who are largely ignored by the fashion industry even though Islam is the world’s second-largest religion, and often requires specific garments for men and for women. Muslim women have been marginalized or altogether ignored by the fashion industry, but Mariah Idrissi’s H&M gig is a step in the right direction, not only because it shows the world the “fashionable” side of Islam, but also, more important, because it highlights the story of a confident, devout Muslim woman.

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Mariah Idrissi has said:

It always feels like women who wear hijab are ignored when it comes to fashion. Our style, in a way, hasn’t really mattered, so it’s amazing that a brand that is big has recognized the way we wear hijab.

Followers of Mariah would definitely agree. One blogger stated that “She [Mariah] awakened the people. In a simple and quiet way she made others look at a Muslim woman without fear or contempt but with a healthy curiosity. Maria [sic] opened a conversation that has always been strained.”

That’s what’s most important about this campaign: conversation. H&M has done a small part in highlighting marginalized individuals in our society, and creating a conversation. The “Close The Loop” campaign is purportedly to promote recycling your old clothes, but the underlying message is just as important.

About The Author
Lisa Lo Paro
Lisa is a freelance writer and bibliophile living on the outskirts of New York City. She likes 2 a.m. with a good book, takes cream in her coffee and heavily filters her photos. Check out her blog The Most Happy, her Instagram, and Twitter.