Muslim athletes have helped kickstart a new discussion about allowing Hijab to be worn in competition.
In 2016, Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first Muslim woman athlete competing for America to wear hijab during the Rio Olympics. As one of the most-talked about Olympians in a group that included names like Michael Phelps and Simone Biles, she did her best to deflect the hyper focus on her religion or what she wears while still competing on a world-class level. Instead, Muhammad used her platform and voice to educate as she showed grace and humility on the biggest athletic stage in the world, making history along the way by becoming the first Muslim-American to stand on a podium at the Olympics, winning a bronze.
Although she’d take home a medal, her fortitude to remain true her to herself has led to a defining opportunity – to help normalize what being Muslim looks like. Less than a year after competing in Rio, some view Muhammad as a catalyst for Muslim women athletes, that the attention the media paid to her during the Olympics (not to mention a market estimated to be worth $5 trillion in under five years) is a big reason why Nike recently announced plans to debut a “Pro Hijab” for Muslim women who compete. Muhammad, who has her own modest fashion line, Louella, isn’t involved in the Nike campaign, but her impact is undeniable.
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