Nike Pro Hijab


Yuna Lee and Michelle Rivas

Zahra Lari in Nike campaign
provided by Dezeen

Nike has decided to expand their horizons and become the first major brand to launch a line of performance hijabs for Muslim women athletes. The final product will be called the “Nike Pro Hijab,” and will be available for purchase in the company’s Spring 2018 season. It is already being worn by Zahra Lari, the United Arab Emirates’s first international figure skater, Manal Rostom, who is a runner and triathlete, and Amna Haddad, an Olympic weight lifter who is also from the Emirates. They are both test runners and models of the design. They each individually expressed their excitement about being involved in the campaign on social media.

“I cried when they showed it to me. I cried when I tried it on for the first time. I still cry looking at how far we’ve come to change the perception of the world about us Arab, covered women as we deal with the struggle of wearing it everyday,” said an emotional Rostom on one of her many posts via Instagram about the campaign.

The head-cover, which is expected to cost $35, is made of a lightweight, thin single layer polyester with a pull-on design. The tiny holes in the hijab make it breathable while still remaining opaque, which is a requirement for hijab-wearing women. It will come in the colors gray, black, and obsidian.

The hijab has been a controversial subject in the world of sports for some time, with many athletes being prohibited from wearing them while participating in competitions. Only recently have regulations started to lift for Muslim athletes in professional competitions. However, it usually is not a racism issue, but more of a safety one. Nonetheless, it still spikes a lot of disagreement.

That is why when Nike announced their new product, positive reactions were expected and for the most part, given. But, while many people and athletes have shown a positive response to the new campaign, others are criticizing the sportswear because they claim that it normalizes oppression. Some have even went as far as saying that they will never buy anything from Nike again.

On the other hand, some people are seeing this as positive normalization and an acceptance of Islamic culture.

According to NBC News, Hussam Ayloush, an executive director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations said, “Such normalization helps weaken the rhetoric of fear and bigotry advanced by the powerful Islamophobia industry.”
Manal Rostom in Nike campaign provided by Vogue.

Amna Al Haddad, one of the athletes who helped develop the Nike Pro Hijab, also spoke out on Facebook to defend the product and the purpose behind it.

“From my perspective as a former athlete who competed in hijab, in the past, the big brands didn’t see the need or market for it as it was not “popular” and it was unheard of to see women train, exercise and compete in hijab,” she wrote. “I support Muslim women with or without hijab, and how they dress is their choice. And with the Nike Sports Hijab, it surely will encourage a new generation of athletes to pursue sports professionally, and without us athletes who fought for this right and made it happen, Nike wouldn’t ‘just do it.’”

Another reason why the Nike Pro Hijab is receiving backlash is because they aren’t the actual first company to make athletic hijabs. Even though most people agree that it’s great that a large corporation is supporting Muslim women athletes, some are saying that they are a little late. There are many Muslim-owned companies that have been making athletic hijabs for women, but never got the same recognition for them.

Regardless of the controversy behind the campaign, the new product shines light on Muslim athletes and brings recognition to Islamic culture.