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British Model Ikram Abdi Omar On the Biggest Misconception Around the Hijab

Ikram Abdi Omar wears Jacket, shirt, pants, Dolce & Gabbana; Hat, Giambattista Valli Couture; Necklace, Aurélie Bidermann. Photographed by Txema Yeste for Vogue Arabia April 2019.

After working with The Modist, Omar made her debut at London fashion week in 2018. She spoke to Vogue Arabia about her experience.

“When my family moved to Bristol from Stockholm when I was seven, I couldn’t speak any English. My parents are incredibly supportive – my mother taught my siblings and I English and my dad taught us math at home. Growing up, I was always active and outgoing, playing football, basketball, and dancing. I’ve always wanted to be a model or an actor. I signed to a small agency in London and walked the Modest Fashion Festival in London alongside Halima Aden. I knew the director of the festival from Instagram, and she let me walk the show. I was overjoyed. Backstage was stressful but I get a thrill from being under pressure. I then got scouted in Bristol by Premier Model Management, which led to major opportunities, like walking for Molly Goddard at London Fashion Week. I’ve since moved to London to pursue modeling full-time, taking a break from my biomedical science degree. My family has been hugely supportive, believing in my dream from the beginning. Moving cities was a huge step, but it showed them how dedicated and driven I am.

Originally published in the April 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia

I started wearing the hijab when I was 11. I wear it for my religion and to live a modest and humble life. My mother and sister wear it, too. I haven’t experienced any challenges wearing the hijab as a model, apart from the occasional question asking if I was forced to wear it – which I wasn’t. I find that the biggest misconception around the hijab. Thankfully, I’ve never faced discrimination in my career. Other models, too, are supportive, and many have questions about how it works. On set, people see it as an extra accessory to match with the outfits. In the past, I would have had to bring extra headscarves with me just in case, but stylists mostly bring some for me now. They find it fascinating and get creative, which warms my heart because they see the beauty of the hijab every time a new look is created.”

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