Black, Hijabi, plus-size model takes the internet by storm

“The love has been unreal, I’m so happy that I got to be a part of something so big, just being able to represent other modest women and to have that representation is amazing.”

The online retailer, Pretty Little Thing (PLT) is the latest brand to showcase a hijabi (hijab wearing), black, plus-size model, in their recent campaign.

Ilwaad Marsal, 21, a London based influencer, received a large amount of praise on Twitter, after posting a picture of herself, modelling for the online brand. 

The company welcomed Ilwaad to the Pretty Little Thing family on Twitter after the brand launched in the Middle East in June 2020 and created a modest clothing line to reflect their style. 

Pretty Little Thing welcoming Ilwaad to their family- screenshot @officialPLT

The Middle Eastern platform is available in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

She told The Metro: “The love has been unreal, I’m so happy that I got to be a part of something so big, just being able to represent other modest women and to have that representation is amazing.”

The post was well-received on Twitter and Instagram with over 500,000 likes. Ilwaad was praised in the comments with people saying, ‘You look gorgeous, I’m so happy for you.’

Support Ilwaad received from supporters online. Picture @billy_marsal

With everything, there is always a negative side, and with representation in the Muslim community, the issue of what qualifies as modest is open to interpretation; with many arguing that though it’s a step in the right direction Ilwaad is not representing Muslim women accurately; she has not let that stop her, highlighting that this is a positive for black, Muslim women. 

“Representation to me is seeing women who I find similarities with. Whether it be religion, age group or shared interests.  When I see someone, who is representing something that inspires me this makes me proud of who I am.”

Only one Hjjab wearing women has appeared on the cover of international magazines, Halima Aden, who has ticked off many of the firsts: first hijabi on the cover of Vogue, first women to wear a burkini on the cover of sports illustrator-; leaving the question as to why only one American woman has done all of this when there are plenty of Hijab wearing girls?

Usaina Baker, Cultural Female Engagement Lead at The Salam Project, a youth group set up in London to help tackle extremism and promoting positive values said: “Representation to me is seeing women who I find similarities with. Whether it be religion, age group or shared interests.  When I see someone, who is representing something that inspires me this makes me proud of who I am.”

PLT started a campaign called #EveryBODYinPLT, which aims to showcase and support equality and acceptance. Representing every customer is highly important to the brand, and they said in a statement: “Inclusivity is our thing and we know style has no limit.

“Inclusivity is our thing and we know style has no limit.

@billy_marsal picture- showcasing her achievement on Twitter

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