By Maleeha Coleburn
This is a big political statement during the times of our political and sports culture. In a world where the legality of veiling is still debated and the United States has a travel ban that many believe singles out Muslims, Nike is challenging the political culture.
With all the anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies, Nike is showing solidarity. The ad for the hijab was not framed in any political terms. However, it is demanding attention and giving voices to Muslim women who have been excluded from sports due to stigmas and regulations against wearing a hijab while competing.
Muslim-American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad made history summer of 2016 when she became the first U.S. Olympian to compete wearing a hijab. It was a historic moment that showed how far the hijab has come in gaining public acceptance.
But there is still a long way to go.
FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football,, did not lift the ban on athletes wearing religious head coverings until 2014.
The International Basketball Federation, or FIBA, the world’s basketball governing body which vets players for the Olympics, still prohibits athletes from wearing “equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players.” Hijabs and turbans are included in that category.
Female Muslim athletes struggle to be able to dress modestly while still competing in high-level sports. Hijabs can be uncomfortable, heavy and might not adhere to competition standards.
Now they have a new ally in Nike, though it is not the first company to release hijab sportswear. Many companies around the world sell these types of hijabs. Nike, however, is the most acclaimed company to offer this type of hijab on a mass-market scale and take on the political blowback.
While there are several companies that have created and sold workout hijabs, Nike has a larger platform with its international acclaim as one of the largest sports-apparel companies. It has the potential to reach a much larger consumer base than the smaller companies.
The Pro Hijab is a head covering made of lightweight, stretchy fabric. It also has an elongated back so the hijab does not untuck. The hijabs are expected to cost $35.
The Nike hijab is similar to other performance hijabs. Other companies, like Asiya, Capsters and Artizara, sell their hijabs for a price range from $15 to $45, depending on quality and style. The Nike hijab, with its cost of $35, is on the higher end of the price spectrum, and the quality is expected to be similar to other Nike products.
The Nike hijab comes just weeks after Nike released an ad in the Middle East.
It featured several female athletes from different parts of the Middle East pursuing their athletic goals, while a voice asks, “What will they say about you?”
It is a question many young Arab women face if they venture away from cultural and traditional norms.
For all the Muslim women, athlete or not, just do it.
Featured Photo Credit: Sophomore Jessie Smolt feels her newly affixed head scarf during MSA’s Head Scarf for a Day event in front of Stamp on April 12, 2016. (Jack Angelo/Bloc Photographer)
Maleeha Coleburn is a freshman journalism and government and politics double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.