Earlier last month, Nike announced the company will soon be releasing the Nike Pro Hijab. The Hijab will come with breathable fabric, length to ensure it stays in place during active movement, the Nike swoosh resting near the ear and inclusivity.
Why It’s Important
Many female Muslim athletes have struggled over time with integrating their passions with their faith, and society hasn’t been very helpful. In fact, nearly half of all girls drop out of sports by the age of 17. Only recently have Muslim girls been able to see themselves represented in professional sports when American Fencer and Olympic bronze medalist, Ibtihaj Muhammad wore her hijab during her Olympic match during last years’ games.
This controversial issue has lead to many Muslim women having to choose between their beloved sport or defying their faith. That is why the soon to be released Nike Pro Hijab is such a prominent step for female Muslim athletes and a progressive and bold step for Nike.
The Bigger Picture
Merely by announcing the new sports wear, Nike has not only made a statement in the world of sports, they have made a much bigger statement about the views of the new Presidential administration. Nike has chosen to openly support Muslim women in a tense time, and it has been a big PR move. Nike has chosen to side with the Muslim faith during a controversial time in the United States knowing that there would be a divide within the consumers. As expected, the company has been praised by many for its strong push towards diversity and inclusivity, but it has been met with its fair share of apprehension and anger.
There has been some backlash in the form of a boycott of the brand prompting the hashtag #boycottNike. Many of the critics believe the Nike Pro Hijab is in support of the oppression of women while other critics dislike the idea of the hijab and everything it stands for. Certainly, Nike’s PR team was prepared for backlash of this type branding the hijab as a move towards diversity.
However, it doesn’t seem that the company was prepared for the slight backlash from Muslim women themselves. Some Muslim women believe Nike is using their new product to profit from the conversation about Muslims that has continued to grow over the past year and a half. They worry that Nike is receiving credit where it isn’t entirely due since many international companies (predominantly Muslim-owned) have been making athletic hijabs for years.
While some Muslims are still on the edge about the product, it is agreed that Nike is taking a positive step towards normalizing Islam in the United States and beyond. As for the boycotters, it doesn’t seem like Nike is going to do anything to appease their upset. This allows for the attention to be placed on the encouragement of women to feel comfortable sticking with their passions without encroaching on their faith.