Nike made waves last week when it announced it was launching a hijab for Muslim women to wear while exercising.
Designed and tested by figure skater Zahra Lari and weight-lifter Amna Al Haddad, the Nike Pro Hijab is a piece of high-performance sportswear designed to dissolve the barriers that prevent Muslim women from keeping fit.
It’s not set to hit the market until 2018, but has received mixed reactions.
Many people have criticised the company, claiming the hijab normalises the oppression of women. Some have even threatened to boycott Nike as a result.
However Amna has responded to the criticism in an Instagram post:
“With the Nike Pro Hijab Launch, I do realise there is a lot of mixed reactions as to why Nike decided to create such a product ‘now.’
“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.
“It is a recent phenomenon where more women have expressed a need for it and more professional athletes have fought for rights to compete with a headscarf, and have an equal playing field. We made it big in the news, we couldn’t be ignored.
“As Muslim women, we have been vocal in the media about it – personally since 2011 – the big guys can’t help but notice us ‘the underdogs’ and our impact in the sports industry and world. They know that we are here to stay and decided to join the party and create another ‘competitive’ sport hijab in the market, which by the way, did exist in the market for few years now.
“As an innovative company, they will create products and they will meet market needs – whatever they may be. It is not dismissing any other hard work done in the past to develop sports hijabs, it’s just there is more competition in the market for modest clothing now.
“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.’
“Ps. This is purely my opinion on the matter, not paid for or asked to be written.”
Plenty of people agree with her and have praised Nike for the hijab.
“Every woman deserves the right to choose what she wants to wear and it's been really hard for those choosing hijab to find suitable clothing. This is the step in the right direction so that ALL women are included,” wrote one person.
For their part, Nike told The Independent: “When we spoke to athletes* in the region, they told us that this was something they wanted and needed.
“We worked with a wide variety of hijabi athletes to test and provide feedback on this product and sought the expert opinion of advocates and the local community to advise on the design and needs of the region.”
*The asterisk refers to Nike’s brand mission: “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.”Reuse content