The Mass Commodification of the Hijab: Progress or Insult?

Never before has the fashion industry been able to cause such a commotion with its increasing involvement in creating its own versions of the Muslim-specific garment of a hijab. Beginning back in 2016, when Dolce and Gabbana premiered its “spring line” of hijabs, fast fashion brands like H&M soon followed suit, sparking controversy from both Muslims and non-practicing types alike. Though, in certain regards, the “inclusion” (oh how generous of you Western world) of hijabs into mainstream culture signals, theoretically, a greater level of tolerance, there’s something about the overall presentation, ad-wise, that smacks of blatant capitalization on the corporate okay’d oppression of women.

That Nike, the American brand, would get in on the commodification of this Islamic-friendly trend is an especially scandalous move at this particular moment in U.S. history, with a president determined to keep in effect a travel ban against six major Muslim countries. Considering that many a Trump supporter looks at Nike the way they do McDonald’s–as American as apple pie (though even McDonald’s might secretly hate our president)–there’s a solid chance the company is going to gain more nemeses than proponents of the latest addition to their catalogue, slated for official release in 2018. In fact, they already have, with one of those contemptible hashtags signaling Twitter activism being: #BoycottNike. Surprisingly, however, it appears as though the faction most decrying of the brand cashing in on the hijab are liberals citing the move as a sanctioning to the misogyny and subjugation promoted in encouraging a.k.a. violently enforcing this method of dress (many a Muslim woman has been stoned for being caught in public without her hijab). It doesn’t really help in diminishing the complaint that the Nike hijab is merely propagating mainstream chauvinism that a rapper like Waka Flocka, creator of lyrics such as, “I’m tryna hit the hotel with two girls that’ll swallow me/Take this dick while I’m swallowin’ Moscato, got her freaky/Hey you got me in a trance, please take off your pants/Pussy pop on a handstand,” would tweet, “These Nike Hijab Pros low key lit.”

Of course, conservatives aren’t without their self-righteous insistence that Nike’s show of support for Muslim athletes is not what’s going to make America great again. And yet, there can be no denying that there are Muslim women who feel strongly enough about their religion to endure all of its associated helotry to prove their devotion. Muslim female athletes themselves openly applauded Nike for tailoring the product specifically with their needs and concerns in mind. So maybe they do need a sport hijab, but it probably doesn’t need to be made by Nike, or any other brand looking to take advantage of something that’s ultimately rooted in the sacrosanct. What’s next, Ritz communion crackers?