'Only the Start': Norway Gets Its First Hijab-Wearing Model

The appearance of the 15-year-old hijab-clad model at one of the Scandinavian nation's premier fashion arenas has been hailed as a marked shift from the "tall, thin and white" model stereotype. On the other hand, human right activists fear it may seriously hamper women's rights in the Muslim world.
Somali-Norwegian Seinab Sharrawe has made her debut at Oslo Runway, becoming the Nordic nation's first hijab-wearing model, national broadcaster NRK reported.
Fashion designer Øyvind Ruud of the design company OFC, which made use of Sharrawe's services, stressed a great demand for diversity, as consumers are becoming "more enlightened."
By his own admission, he saw some pictures of Sharrawe on the Instagram and "immediately noticed something special."
"I saw a strong girl with a very strong walk. And considering how the media portrays certain groups, it would be great to see a strong personality with hijab," Ruud told NRK.
By her own admission, Sharrawe, who has worn the hijab since the first grade and has just started secondary school, has long dreamt of becoming a model, but always thought it was not an option. She is positive about the hijab becoming more prominent in the fashion scene and is excited about becoming a public figure.
Fashion vlogger Rawdah Mahamad, who was also present at this year's Oslo Runway, cited a dramatic lack of influencers with hijab in the past, as a vast majority of models featured in fashion magazines used to be "tall, thin and white."
"Things have changed. There are different models now, and I believe this is very positive development for the younger generation, especially those in their teens with so much body pressure. So that everyone can see that it's fully okay to be different," Mahamad said.
The overwhelmingly positive response to Sharrawe's appearance marks a shift in the fashion industry, Ruud commented. Fashion expert Ida Eritsland concurred that a more idealist generation is starting to take over the "cynical" fashion industry.
"The public wants to see more models who look like themselves. Unpolished, with strong character and personality, Ruud said, venturing that the power has moved from the industry itself to the consumer.
At the same time, Dana Manouchehri of the organization LIM, that works to promote immigrants' participation in society, pointed out that the fashion industry has ethical responsibilities, which they tend to neglect under the guise of diversity.
"While making life easier for a few girls in the West, it makes the fight considerably harder for millions of women in the Muslim world who want to go uncovered," Manouchehri pointed out.
By her own admission, Seinab received a lot of positive feedback, including from girls calling her a role model.

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