Gigi Hadid has been on an incredible 17 Vogue covers internationally in her short modelling career. But it's not until her most recent one that the 21-year-old has received searing backlash for her work. Hadid is on the cover of the inaugural edition of Vogue Arabia. She is wearing a head covering that looks more like a beaded veil than a hijab; inside the magazine, she sports what looks like a traditional hijab. And people are not pleased.
Most have accused her of religious appropriation. Some are upset, understandably, because they see Hadid glamorizing something that other women are criticized for. "CAN GIGI HADID STOP WEARING HIJAB AS A FASHION STATEMENT !!!! MUSLIM WOMEN ARE SHAMED FOR IT YET SHE CAN PARADE AROUND ON THE COVER OF VOGUE," wrote someone with a very loud internet voice. Another critic wonders, "why not hire an islamic model[?]" Somebody else tweeted, "Gigi Hadid wearing a hijab is probably the stupidest thing Vogue could have done. They clearly don't understand Arabs."
To be clear, Hadid is not Muslim. She is, however, half-Palestinian. (Her father Mohamed is Jordanian-American of Palestinian descent; her mother, Yolanda , is Dutch-American.) She has been vocal about the importance of her roots, and marched against Trump's executive order banning immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. (Palestine is a member state of the Arab League.) In October 2016, Hadid said of her heritage, "I especially love it when you meet other Arabs...There’s such a sense of family regardless of whether you are blood-related or not anywhere in the world." Clearly, the supermodel doesn't deny her Middle Eastern roots, and in fact has often addressed her ethnicity.
Not everyone feels that the cover is appropriative, however. Supporters see the photos as a positive sign of inclusivity and diversity in and outside of the fashion industry: Hadid's way to use her platform to spread a message of tolerance. And while Hadid is not Muslim, she has at least some connection to — and has previously allied herself with — the surrounding culture. As she wrote on Instagram: "I hope that this magazine will show another layer of the fashion industry's desire to continue to accept, celebrate, and incorporate all people & customs and make everyone feel like they have fashion images and moments they can relate to... & learn and grow in doing so."
"It's great she is using her fame to promote the
#hijab and the Palestinian people," one supporter wrote. "I think @GiGiHadid's cover is gorgeous and maybe normalising the hijab by someone who is half paslestinian [sic] is not the worst thing," said another.
Where do you come down on the issue? Is Gigi's cover a net positive or negative for Arabs, Muslims, and representation in the media? Sound off in the comments below.