By Fiza Pirani
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Nike announced last week it will release its first product directed at Muslim female athletes, the Pro Hijab. And since the unveiling, the company has received its share of backlash from the public.
Social media users have criticized the company for supporting the “oppression of women,” prompting tweets of dissent with the hashtag #BoycottNike.
But many Muslim women, including weight lifter Amna Al Haddad, the brand’s target audience for its Pro Hijab, applauded the company for its new product, which was developed with the help of hijab-wearing athletes.
“In the past, the big brands didn’t see the need or market for it as it was not ‘popular’ and it was unheard of to see women train, exercise and compete in hijab,” Haddad shared on Instagram.
Others responded to the polarizing criticism of the Pro Hijab, writing that for them, wearing the hijab is not oppression, but a choice.
Users are also sharing a video by Hanna Yusuf of The Guardian, in which the Muslim feminist addressed critics of the hijab and said that wearing hers is a feminist statement.
“In a world where a woman’s value is often reduced to her sexual allure, what could be more empowering than rejecting that notion?” she said.
But, Yusuf said, her concern with the hijab being unfairly portrayed as oppression is not a denial of the fact that some women are forced to wear it in some parts of the world.
According to a press release obtained by Fortune.com, the Nike Pro Hijab is expected to cost $35, and is similar to its other Nike Pro products: “inconspicuous, almost like a second skin.”
The move followed Nike’s viral campaign called "What Will They Say About You?" — a digital ad targeted at women in the Arab world, featuring female athletes such as figure skater Zahra Lari of the United Arab Emirates and boxer Arifa Bseiso from Jordan.
Nike’s Pro Hijab will be on sale in Spring 2018.
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