Like many hijab-wearing girls in Canada, I know that there are painfully few hijabi icons in North American art and entertainment. The few that are present are typically misrepresented and inaccurate. It is annoying, misleading, and has real negative effects. Whenever a new movie or TV show comes out with a Muslim character, I always hold my breath. Most art forms, like paintings, digital art, bloggers, and social media often give a very one-dimensional view of hijab-wearing girls. The few that portray hijabis are typically light-skinned and do not wear clothing according to the modest dress code that many Muslim women abide by. This narrative is damaging not only to non-Muslims and their perception of Islam but also to Muslim girls themselves.

Growing up, I rarely saw girls who looked like me at school, on TV, on products, or anywhere really. I am blessed to have parents who tried their hardest to expose me to positive Muslim influences, but the fact is that those influences were few and far between. The irony is that, while I was looking for hijabi influences for myself, I ended up becoming a hijabi influencer for others. In middle school, high school, and even university, I was almost always the only hijabi. This meant that, to others, I essentially represented all hijab-wearing girls. I was always asked questions about my religion, the hijab, and political issues around the world. Not just by non-Muslims, but by Muslims too. At first, this made me very uncomfortable. When I was younger, I was still figuring out my own identity, so forget about others challenging me for answers. However, as time went on, I learned more about myself and why I believe what I believe. The questions helped me look for deeper answers and, in the end, I came out more confident in my faith than ever before. While I was lucky to be given the strength to navigate these experiences, it was in no way easy or comfortable. I often felt alone and on the defensive. No single hijabi should represent the entirety of Muslim women. It is not fair for others, or herself, to assume this responsibility. It is also not fair that she should feel alone.

As a hijab-wearing woman, I have always craved representation in art forms around me. Throughout the years, I have found only a handful of artists who create quality content for Muslim women. I finally decided to create the representation I have always looked for through my very own digital art brand, HijabaeDesigns! I create minimalistic digital designs featuring diverse Muslim women in a variety of products. I also incorporate a wide range of skin tones, ethnic features, and clothing styles in my art. I hope Muslim women can benefit from my HijabaeDesigns shop and it inspires them to feel proud of who they are, helping them recognize that they are never alone.