For years, Cosmopolitan has been the biggest female-focused millennial brand in the world, influencing and shaping the lifestyles of women. Cosmopolitan’s captivation of society essentially created this idea of a “Cosmo Girl,” a bold, independent, fashion forward woman — an idea which consequently inflicts harm on society, because we can’t all be a cosmo girl.
Meet Amani Badran, a trailblazer for Arab and Muslim women, Dearborn native, Ross MBA, an engineer at DTE and someone who lives in a cosmo world but is not exactly a cosmo girl. Badran is bold, independent and fashion forward, just like a cosmo girl. Her boldness, independence and style choices are not a result of the Western standards that Cosmopolitan champions, but rather what she likes to call “a happy medium” between her Muslim and American heritages, which she describes as “not exclusive.”
This happy medium is nonexistent in Western brands, and causes many Muslim girls to feel displaced, less beautiful and discouraged; Badran was one of those girls growing up, and now wants to create a brand and space where Muslim girls are able to feel beautiful, inspired and empowered. Badran is currently in the works of creating an online magazine where Muslim women are able to share their stories and interests on topics ranging from fashion, family, fun/travel, finance/career and food/fitness.
“Every Muslim girl is unique in her own way—each of us coming together in this platform like a perfectly, imperfect mosaic,” Badran said.
Badran’s personal experiences led her to want to create this space. Growing up, Badran loved reading lifestyle magazines, and had a goal of becoming editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, despite its complete disregard for her identity. She internalized what Western media propels is beauty and decided her hijab strays too much from the set precedent. However now, Badran is unapologetically comfortable and proud of her identity, and realizes the unnecessary struggle she endured getting there.
“I wish I had embraced my hijab for what it was—unique and different, and a symbol of strength, rather than trying to morph it into something that others would understand,” Badran said. “I wish I had a platform, a space, where I saw the beauty of being a Muslim girl, where I saw how to style my dress in a way that aligned with my values, where I saw more Muslim women succeeding in education and career.”
For Muslim girls like myself, this brand representation is much needed and long overdue. It is time for us to make seeing people that look like ourselves and lead similar lives a normal occurrence, instead of an anomaly. More importantly, it is time for us to have a platform to showcase our art, our writing, our voices and our accomplishments in an authentic way with no adaptations made or questions asked. It is time that we make sure the next generation of Muslim girls do not have to grow up looking at Western norms and thinking this is what could be, and instead, embrace their identity. Soon it will become necessary that we as a society reinvent our understanding of what it means to be and to look American. We will no longer have room for exclusivity.