As a Muslim woman who has worn a headscarf in public since her twenties, influencer Amena Khan never imagined she’d find herself starring in a mainstream haircare campaign. But when L’Oréal Paris invited her to join a diverse line-up of men and women for its new Elvive multimedia campaign, taking part felt like it would promote an important message.
“How many brands are doing things like this? Not many. They’re literally putting a girl in a headscarf – whose hair you can’t see – in a hair campaign. Because what they’re really valuing through the campaign is the voices that we have,” she told Vogue. “You have to wonder – why is it presumed that women that don’t show their hair don’t look after it? The opposite of that would be that everyone that does show their hair only looks after it for the sake of showing it to others. And that mindset strips us of our autonomy and our sense of independence. Hair is a big part of self-care.”
Khan points out that even though she doesn’t wear her hair uncovered in public, she spends much of her day at home or around loved ones without a scarf. Moreover, her hair is just as important to her whether it’s seen by others or not.
Related Read: These women have united to campaign about hijab
“For me, my hair is an extension of my femininity. I love styling my hair, I love putting products in it, and I love it to smell nice. It’s an expression of who I am,” she explains. “And even if that expression is for my home life and my loved ones and for me when I look in the mirror, it’s who I am. If I know my hair is greasy but I have a scarf on it, I still feel rubbish all day – even if it’s covered.”
A large part of what makes this campaign so important and so overdue is the conversations it will provoke and the young people who will see it and at last find people that they can relate to and identify with on their smartphone screens and in their magazines. L’Oréal Paris has transformed its “Worth It” messaging in recent years in an attempt to democratise those words, making a diverse range of people feel celebrated rather than limiting it to the Doutzens, the Karlies and the Cheryls of this world.
Related Read: The Nike Pro Hijab has officially landed
“I didn’t start wearing a headscarf until I was in my twenties, but even prior to that I didn’t see anyone I could relate to in the media. It was always a cause of celebration when you saw a brown face on television!” Khan says. “I always wanted to be somehow in television or in media but it felt like a pipe dream and that’s why I didn’t pursue it, because I didn’t think there would be anything for me. Which is a shame. I think seeing a campaign like this would have given me more of a sense of belonging. I trusted L’Oréal that they would communicate the message well. If the message is authentic and the voice behind it is authentic, you can’t deny what’s being said.”
And that’s how we want 2018 to continue.