"Whether or not your hair's on display doesn't affect how much you care about it."
Hijabi vlogger fronts major haircare campaign
British YouTube star and businesswoman Amena Khan is the first hijabi model to be cast in a mainstream hair campaign, featuring in a new commercial for L'Oréal.
“You have to wonder – why is it presumed that women that don’t show their hair don’t look after it?” Khan asked Vogue UK in an interview this week.
"For me, my hair is an extension of my femininity... it's an expression of who I am," explained Khan, who has more than 570,000 followers on Instagram.
"Whether or not your hair's on display doesn't affect how much you care about it," she says in the commercial:
Here's a video of Khan on the set of the shoot:
As regular The National columnist Shelina Janmohamed pointed out recently, what a Muslim woman chooses to wear is often newsworthy, but what isn't given much airtime are female Muslim voices on the topic.
"When a Muslim woman decides to cover, she might do it for a myriad of reasons: submission to faith, an aspiration to be modest, a sign of pride in her faith, a desire to reject objectification, a reaction of the body image pressures of today’s fashion and beauty industries, a sense of comfort or breaking with convention.
"Yet what her fashion choices mean is far too often not expressed from her viewpoint but how others interpret her clothing. Other people decide that her clothes mean she is oppressed or submissive. Or that she is only a good woman if she covers. But few bother to listen to her to understand what it means to her, why she makes these choices and how the meaning of those choices can fluctuate."
Some hijabis style their hair, some don't: just like some women who don't veil have impeccable blow-dries, while others leave the house, hair still wet, and let nature take its course.
In a vlog from last year, Khan, who has her own line of hijabs, talks about being on the set of the L'Oréal campaign and talking to a hair stylist who was surprised that she styles her hair regularly.
"I assumed that girls who wear headscarves aren't really into that [styling their hair]," she quotes the stylist as telling her. But she says, "Haircare is very important to her".
“And even if that expression is for my home life and my loved ones and for me when I look in the mirror, it’s who I am," Khan told Vogue UK. "If I know my hair is greasy but I have a scarf on it, I still feel rubbish all day - even if it’s covered.”
There's certainly nothing quite like hair wash day.
You can watch her hair care routine here:
The haircare campaign isn't the first time Khan has worked with L'Oréal - she was also a face of the True Match foundation campaign last year.