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CoverGirl Signs Its First Ambassador in a Hijab

Sometimes a business leader, largely for business reasons, can help move society positively.

That’s what the CoverGirl cosmetics company is doing in building a new marketing campaign around spokeswoman Nura Afia proudly appearing in a hijab CoverGirl Signs Muslim Ambassador as reported by The New York Times.

With last week’s election, America — the default welcoming home for immigrants and their descendants over centuries, appears to be on the brink of retreat from this inclusive grand commitment. So, many American Muslims — already stressed by events in recent years — may well feel increasingly uncomfortable.

New CoverGirl spokeswoman Nura Afia is having none of it: “I feel proud to be part of a movement that is showing the hijab in a positive light for once.”

Internationally, she is not alone. The Times reported that, “Faces like Ms. Afia’s, and that of the British blogger Amena Khan, who was signed this summer by L’Oreal, indicate a sea change in the personal care industry, said Shelina Janmohamed … the author of ‘Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World.’” 

According to Islamic branding agency Ogilvy Noor, the Muslim personal cosmetics and care market, now worth more than $54 billion, is expected to reach $80 billion by 2010.

Ms. Janmohamed offers this context: “There are millions of Muslim women who are keen to both express their faith and also appear fashion forward. Self-presentation using makeup — and particularly if they choose to wear a head scarf — is key to how they feel they can fit into wider society.” 

A few years ago, Vali Nasr, Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, offered an even broader context for integration of such business into our society:

“There is a vital but unseen force rising in the Islamic world — a new business-minded middle class — that is building a vibrant new Muslim economy … their distinct blending of Islam and capitalism is the key to bringing lasting reform and defeating fundamentalism … They are the people the West can and must to business with.”