Afia will appear in a commercial for CoverGirl, marking the first time a Muslim woman wearing a hijab has been featured in an ad for the brand.
“It’s a big accomplishment for all of us,” Afia, who has been named an ambassador for the brand’s So Lashy! BlastPro Mascara, told CNN. “It means that little girls that grew up like me have something to look up to.”
She told the network that her inclusion in the campaign “shows that we’re average Americans.”
“We’re just girls that love to play with makeup and do everyday stuff,” she told CNN.
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Afia is not the only groundbreaking CoverGirl model of late; the brand also recently announced that James Charles, a teenager who garnered fame on social media, was CoverGirl’s first male representative. Charles and Afia appear in the CoverGirl advertisement with actress Sofia Vergara and singer Katy Perry.
“I’m so excited to be a part of CoverGirl’s new campaign,” Afia said in a statement. “It feels so surreal. Honestly, growing up and being insecure about wearing the hijab I never thought I would see Muslim women represented on such a large scale. It means the world to me and I’m so honored to be a part of this campaign with CoverGirl.”
Hijabs are banned in some countries, but mandatory in others — and can at times be seen as controversial. Late last month, for example, a chess player announced that she would boycott an upcoming championship in Iran because of hijabs. The Post’s Cleve R. Wootson Jr. covered that announcement, writing:
Islamic coverings for women in public — required in Iran and some other nations such as Saudi Arabia — have increasingly become a target for both protests and struggles over Muslim identity. Some activists in Iran have launched online campaigns against the hijab rules, while other women continually test the boundaries by pushing back headscarves to near gravity-defying levels.Yet some women in other Muslim countries, such as Turkey, have battled against restrictions banning headscarves in some public settings, while some conservative Muslim women in the West have pushed for permission to wear headscarves in athletic competitions and other venues.
You might have seen a hijab during the 2016 Olympic Games, when a Muslim American won a bronze while competing in one. And earlier this fall, The Post covered a teenager who was pushing for a hijab emoji.
In an interview with The Post, Afia said that when she was first contacted about working with CoverGirl, she initially didn’t think it was real. There was a part of her, she said, that hesitated to respond.
“Because I was shocked,” she said. “I mean, you’ve never heard of anything like that happening before — in the U.S., at least.”
Afia was born and raised in Colorado, and said wearing a hijab wasn’t always easy for her. She started wearing one before her twin sister, and at the time was the only girl in her school that wore it. She said that back then, she felt that “I had nobody to relate to, nobody to look up to.”
“I hope that they continue to be proud of who they are,” Afia said when asked what she hoped Muslim girls would take away from her ad. “Because I feel like what I can relate to with a lot of Muslim girls is we’ve all felt insecure about either being Muslim, wearing a hijab, or just your culture, at one point. Just because it’s not the norm here. So I want them to feel proud of who they are, and where they come from, and what they think in when they see the commercial.”