Although ‘diversity’ may be a mere buzzword to some, it is important to not forget that it is the reality of the world we live in. Beautifully varied in terms of culture and color, this world belongs to everyone equally, and it is only natural that this is portrayed in media, for it is meant to be a mirror to society. At Vogue Arabia, a Pan-Arab title catering to the best of fashion, beauty, and culture in the Middle East and North Africa region, women of color often take the rightful center stage.
The magazine had been the first Vogue worldwide to feature a hijabi model with Somali-American Halima Aden, and it made history once again with the first group hijabi cover with Black Muslim models Amina Adan and Ikram Abdi Omar joining Aden. In its three-year history, not only has Vogue Arabia featured Black women in its high-fashion shoots and trendsetting beauty pages but it has also highlighted their stories of success and struggle. When South-Sudanese refugee and model Eman Deng was the face of our April 2020 issue, her story of perseverance inspired many around the world during a time when hope was in short supply. “As long as you are alive, you can make a change and inspire someone else’s life – you can be the reason someone has hope again,” Deng had said. Other stunning Black models and celebrities to star on the magazine’s covers include Naomi Campbell, Rihanna, Ciara, Adwoa Aboah, and many more.
Features inside the magazine are no less diverse and go beyond fashion and glamor to speak of hard-hitting truths. This includes the time US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar opened up about the pressure on her shoulders as the first Black hijabi member of the Congress. “It’s challenging,” she had said of living in President Trump’s America, where her status and heritage is constantly criticized. “It’s an everyday assault. Every day, a part of your identity is threatened, demonized, and vilified. Trump is tapping into an ugly part of our society and freeing its ugliness. It’s been a challenge to try to figure out how to continue the inclusion; how to show up every day and make sure that people who identify with all the marginalized identities I carry, feel represented.”
Vogue Arabia’s beauty shoots starring Black models Fatou Jobe and Fadhi Mohamed have also taken no time in going viral. Jobe’s striking visuals and the work of renowned Black British makeup artist Pat McGrath were heralded as the best way melanin-rich skin should be celebrated editorially and loved profoundly on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. The Afro also had its moment on one of our covers, worn by none other than supermodel Naomi Campbell who wore the natural hairstyle for the first time for a cover shoot.
The magazine’s representation of racial diversity has not gone unnoticed by global industry reporters such as The Fashion Spot, which named the magazine as one of the most diverse ones in 2019. An in-depth look into the April 2019 group hijabi cover by author Rafia Zakaria on Arab News called the cover “provocative in some ways because in featuring three Black Muslim women on the cover, it reminded viewers that Black is beautiful.”
In hopes that seeing these successful and strong Black women on the covers and pages of our magazine makes the aspiring feel represented, we have rounded up all of Vogue Arabia’s moments celebrating diversity below.
Rihanna photographed by Greg Kadel for Vogue Arabia, November 2017.
Halima Aden photographed by Greg Kadel for the Vogue Arabia June 2017 issue cover
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