Gina Mei
September 29, 2015 2:21 pm

Earlier this month, H&M debuted a new video for their Close The Loop campaign, promoting sustainable fashion and the importance of recycling old clothes. The video featured a diversity of people from all walks of life — but none have caused a stir quite like Mariah Idrissi: The brand’s first hijab-wearing model.

At only 23 years old, Idrissi has already accomplished quite a bit. Aside from her new role as ground-breaking model for H&M, she’s also a poet; runs a “Moroccan-inspired beauty salon”; and is an all-around badass role model for women everywhere. The London native is beautiful inside and out, and we couldn’t think of a more perfect person to represent the brand. Idrissi has openly told multiple media outlets that she had a wonderful experience working with H&M, and that she was treated with nothing but respect. The brand gave her a private dressing area and a female assistant to help her throughout the shoot. They also consulted with her about what she was comfortable wearing. “[They] asked how much in terms of neck I could show, but to be honest they were very respectful. If the cameramen noticed something not quite right, they would call a woman over to fix me, it was sweet,” Idrissi told Fusion. “It just showed that little bit of respect.”

While it may seem insignificant in the scheme of things, the fact that H&M decided to diversify its models is actually a huge deal. The fashion industry remains severely lacking in diverse representation, so when one of the biggest clothing retailers in the world decides to change that, it creates waves.

The campaign Idrissi was a part of, in fact, included models of many different shapes and sizes and backgrounds. Our hearts grew ten times to see so many people of various ages, abilities, gender identities, and races so thoroughly represented. Each person was uniquely stylish; and the whole video definitely proves that there is more than enough room in the fashion industry for better representation.

By creating visibility for marginalized groups in all walks of media, we can begin to foster acceptance and dismantle prejudice. Unfortunately, not everyone has welcomed Idrissi to the modeling world with open arms — but she remains unfazed and stands by her decision to take part in the campaign.

“I’ve seen a few comments where [people are] against it, but there’s nothing that says there is anything against it. In our religion, anything that’s not stated as forbidden is permissible,” she told CNN. “As long as I’m dressed correctly, according to Islam, then there’s no problem. It’s just promoting the hijab, in a way. If anything, it’s good.”

“Some people think it’s great that women can be beautiful and wear a hijab, and others think they’re forced to wear it,” she told Fusion. “I’m quite thick-skinned though, so if people did say anything to me, I wouldn’t notice it anyway.”

As Idrissi points out, the hijab isn’t just some fashion trend. For her, it is a sign of modesty and faith — and it in no way affects how fashionable she is or isn’t.

“It always feels like women who wear hijab are ignored when it comes to fashion,” she told Fusion. “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.”

Check out the H&M campaign for yourself below.

(Images via video, Instagram.)

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