This could be the year of the woman in America. With Hillary Clinton potentially becoming the first female president, marathon runner Rahaf Khatib being featured wearing a hijab in Women's Running Magazine, and Muslim-American journalist Noor Tagoure becoming the first woman to pose for Playboy wearing a hijab, 2016 really could be.
The news is drawing criticism for the 22-year-old, who will be part of a series that highlights those who have risked it all, including their lives. The magazine called the series, “Renegades of 2016," and said it will change how you think "about music, business, porn and comedy." Born in West Virginia, Tagouri is touted as an activist working to create change for her religion. She is working to flip the narrative of women who do wear the head scarf, and those of the Muslim faith. The reporter said the media has exploited the Muslim community in the nation, but peers believe that being in Playboy is counteractive.
Journalists Inas Younis and Uddin are some of those critics, writing in the Washington Post that Playboy does not free women, it objectifies them in many of ways. One could agree with their position. “The magazine celebrates open sexuality and believes that modesty and chastity are products of a shaming and oppressive culture, which it condemns.” Yiunis and Asma T. Uddin hit again at Playboy for mocking Muslim modesty. They believed that Tagouri’s decision will not end in celebration for Muslim women, it will just add to the confusion. The hijab is not just a piece of clothing--it signifies preserving modesty and chastity, and is a practice of both Muslim men and women. This means that when a woman covers herself they decide that they will not be sexually objectified, and are valued for more than their bodies. They are not to be showcased for others, and relay on their own identity. Women who do wear the head covering are not oppressed. It is about modesty. However, rejection doesn’t bother Tagouri. It all equates in her view as being negative energy, and she rather shrug it off, and move on.
Tagouri is looking beyond the scope of Playboy. She wants to become the first hijabi anchor on commercial U.S. television. "There are real stories that need to be shared," she said in the interview with Playboy. Society has become extremely desensitized to violence and death and people who have been traumatized have a hard time sharing their stories. Experiencing misrepresentation herself, Tagouri expressed that it has helped her as a journalist and she wants to help other Muslims speak up, regardless of what the media portrays them as. She can empathize with her sources she comes in contact with and can say: “Hey, I know what it’s like to be misrepresented in the media. I won’t do that to you. I want to tell your story because it’s important and deserves justice,” she told Playboy.
People want to be valued and heard. Their experiences are so personal and they want their voices to come through in a story. "Unfortunately they’re having a hard time being okay with someone sharing their story. Which is totally understandable, but it’s a process.” Due to the lack of trust with reporters, she is holding back on stories at Newsy, out of respect for the victims. She explained it is very scary to step out when one has suffered, they are bruised from life. However, people will know that their story has power to change lives. Once, people realize that they do not need to be a victim, they can be a light, and "save others," she offered.
Tagouri is ambitious. She started her own fashion line to fund the fight against human trafficking called “The Noor Effect.” Half the money raised will go to Project Futures. She is more than creating waves, and fighting for the voiceless, Tagouri desires to change the way people view themselves. Tagouri is well-known on social media with over 200,000 followers and has shared her views on identity and rebellion on TEDx. She said that rebelling is not negative. It is more than burning bras for women’s liberation. This was bigger; it was learning to be your most authentic self no matter what religion or background you come from. Call it your personal legend, and the "it the only way to live a satisfied life," she told the audience.
The hijab made news in the spring when Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana created a high-end Hijab and abaya collection. Muslim women are not limited to just a select few boutiques where they can purchase clothes, making them feel underrepresented. The move could open more opportunities and access to other designers and expend to the U.S. and other countries. Yes, it’s an untapped business for companies, but this could help people fighting the fear of Muslims to view them as everyday people. This is important to Tagouri, who wants people to see her, not her scarf. At the end of her interview she talked about encouraging others and wanting to make the world better when you leave it. As humans we do this by breaking barriers, getting out of the comfort zone, and reclaiming individual power. This can be done regardless if it is through fashion, or the media.
There could be mixed feelings about Tagouri’s decision to be featured in Playboy. For the magazine, it will boost sales. For the rest of us, the subject opens up discussion on how Muslim women feel vilified or pitied in today’s society. If they wear the hijab, they want people to know it was by choice, and it was not forced. Tagouri wants to change the misconceptions culture has about her faith. Whether posing in Playboy is the way, we don’t know. But we can respect her strength. She is shining a light on the issue that no one wants to talk about and that is discrimination against Muslim Americans, and others.
Being a reporter who wears a headscarf opens up the discussion on Muslim women. "I will have succeeded in effecting change when all girls realize they can do anything they want without having to sacrifice who they are as a person.” You can be yourself while making an impact. Effecting change is not something that happens over night, but by taking one bold step to unify, we can make tomorrow better, whether we elect the first female president, or break down barriers between religions. Tagouri is not blind when it comes to the jabs she gets from her critics regarding her Playboy appearance? She seemed to take it all in stride.