During the Elle gala in Sweden, influencer Imane Asry, a popular hijabi blogger was picked for the “Look of the Year” award, in collaboration with L´Oréal Paris.
Asry is an influencer with over 150,000 followers on her Instagram page Fashion with Faith, who earlier described herself as “Muslim fashion-crazy girl”. She received the award from last year's winner Linnea Henriksson.
“This prize, it is for all of us who did not see ourselves in the fashion magazines, because we did not fit in. And with that said, I want to say: We can too”, Asry commented on her victory.
“I was absolutely convinced that someone who looked like me could not win such an award. In addition, being a visible Muslim woman with an influence in fashion Sweden feels almost unreal! It makes me so happy to see such changes in an otherwise very superficial and homogeneous industry.”
Asry, a student of economics, was voted by Elle's readers and followers. She described her style as “modest fashion” and a way of meeting spiritual and stylistic requirements.
“I think my style reaches out and inspires so many, not just Muslim women. Also, many people can identify with my work. This is a confirmation that the time is more than ripe for us to start normalising the hijab in the fashion industry. Fashion is for everyone,” Asry concluded.
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However, the nomination ruffled a lot of feathers among the Swedish public, where many thought Elle was indirectly supporting the oppression of women.
Writer and columnist Ann Heberlein likened Elle to the Scripture for fashion enthusiasts around the world, which is why its stance matters.
“What is the message Elle wants to communicate by letting 'modest fashion' win the Look of the Year anno 2020? Well, that women should cover their bodies, take responsibility for the man's sexuality by not tempting him, being modest and humble. Don't take too much space, don't be too visible, don't provoke. I think it is a sad message to communicate to women,” Heberlein, who holds a doctorate in ethics, suggested in her opinion piece in Nyheter Idag.
Others didn't stop there. Writer and journalist Katerina Janouch raged against the choice of nominee as oppressive.
“Every free woman should stand up and demand that the 'Look of the Year' award be given to someone else than Islamist Imane Asry. Otherwise, it seems Elle has taken a stance – FOR women's oppression, against women's freedom”, Janouch tweeted.
Varje fri kvinna borde ställa sig upp och kräva att priset för “Årets look” ges till ngn annan än islamisten Imane Asry. Annars har ELLE tagit ställning – FÖR kvinnoförtryck, MOT kvinnors frihet.— Katerina Janouch🐲🇸🇪✡️🇮🇱🇨🇿🐸 (@katjanouch) 20. tammikuuta 2020
ping @mystealthyorg @AlinejadMasih #svpol #migpol https://t.co/n43PKKUur5
“Of course, a garment designed to maintain women's chastity, ethnocultural segregation and endogamy should be hailed by a bunch of Swedish progressive upper middle class liberals”, Moderate Party MP Hanif Bali tweeted. “Now I was a bit generous with the imagery. That's how Elle itself pictured it. Even the ayatollahs have more relaxed hijab requirements than this ultra-orthodoxy. This is stricter hijabism than what you find on the streets of Tehran”, Bali added.
Nu var jag generös med bildsättningen - såhär bildsatte Elle priset. T.o.m ayatollorna har slappare hijabkrav än denna ultraortodoxi.— Hanif Bali (@hanifbali) 18. tammikuuta 2020
Detta är striktare hijabism än vad du hittar på gatorna i Teheran. pic.twitter.com/PB6VuVEOk2
“'Look of the year'. This encourages women's oppression. Total failure, outrageous”, blogger Micke69 tweeted.
The number of Muslims in Sweden has soared in recent decades, from merely about 500 Muslims in 1950s to over 800,000, or amounting to 8.1 percent of the population today, according to Pew Research Centre. In recent years, there has been an ongoing debate on the role of Islam in Swedish society.