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Are We Supposed to be Seen and Not Heard?

When we saw Amena Khan in the latest Loreal shampoo ad, we were stoked! I mean, a hijabi in a shampoo ad? Diversity! Sing it, loud and proud!

But that excitement was short lived cos as the next morning set it, I woke up to a slew of headlines saying that she had stepped down from the campaign. Wait…what? Do my eyes deceive me? Did I just wake up and jump right back into a nightmare? Was I even awake?

Naturally, I scoured the internet and social media for the truth. I kept going “this can’t be…tell me it isn’t true”. Sadly, it was indeed true.

So, here’s apparently what went down. After the campaign went live, some of Amena’s tweets dating back 2014 came to light. In those tweets, Amena voiced her disgust at the treatment of the Palestinian people and the killing of innocent Palestinian children.

“Right,…ok…,” I thought, “what exactly is wrong with that now?” After all, Amena was simply saying what we were all saying at that time. Let’s not forget, 2014 was when the conflict was at one of its highest. We all remember the four young boys who were playing soccer on a beach when a bomb hit them – killing all of them on sight. The world was outraged, we were outraged, Amena was merely voicing her outrage. So, tell me what was wrong with that? And why did she have to step down from a campaign, now?

Recently Revlon named Gal Gadot as their ambassador for their #LIVEBOLDLY campaign which champions (supposedly) inspiring women to express themselves in passion, optimism, strength and style – women standing for women. Aside from acting as Wonder Woman, what exactly has Gal Gadot done? In fact, she has been vocal of her support for the IDF and the occupied territories – inadvertently oppressing the voices of Palestinian women and girls. At this point, I want to reference to Ahed Tamimi but that’s going to be another long rant. All I’ll say here is, this 16-year-old girl was standing up against the occupation and is now in jail. Where is the outcry? Where is the world coming together to allow her voice to be heard? Or is her voice not amongst the voices they want to rally behind? When we talk about women’s rights, are the rights of one group of women more important and more relevant than the other?

Going back to Amena, what sickens me was that aside from stepping down, she had to delete those tweets and issue a statement of apology. Gal never had to apologise for her opinions and views. Why should Amena?

I was struck with this thought – was Amena used as a marketing bargaining chip? I couldn’t help but feel that Loreal simply used Amena, a hijabi Muslim woman, as just a poster girl for their form of diversity but would rather her be seen and not heard.

I say no. Our voice is one of beauty, strength and grace. Do not let anyone take that away from you. We stand by Amena – always have.

Juliana Iskandar is the Editor-in-Chief of GAYA Magazine.


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At GAYA Magazine, we champion the voices of today's Muslim women living through the complexities of today's social climate. Our doors are always open to new and exciting voices so if you're interested in becoming a contributing writer, hit this link!

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