Here's to the Real Representation
Why does the TV show “The Bold Type” mean everything to me? Because for once, a Muslim woman is portrayed as a fierce, sexual, artistic being. Representation matters.
What do I have in common with “The Bold Type”?
I, too, am a proud, Muslim woman who refuses to be oppressed by the system. In “The Bold Type,” Adena is a “proud, Muslim lesbian” and an artist. She breaks every stereotype associated with Islam. She is open about her sexuality, dresses the way she wants and falls in love with a Black woman.
Adena also wears a hijab. When asked why, she says choosing to wear it makes her feel liberated. That’s what I want. I don’t wear a hijab or cover my hair. I want to, but on my own terms. Some people think the hijab and other modest Islamic clothing are oppressive. In some nations, there are laws that make that true, but in reality, the hijab symbolizes different things for every woman who wears it. For me, it symbolizes the strength and beauty of a woman. For me, it acknowledges that women are so beautiful — so beautiful in fact, that not just any ordinary eyes are worthy of gazing. For me, it is a statement of feminism, fashion, and freedom. When I decide to start covering my hair, I want to do it because I feel empowered. Not because anyone told me I should or must. Not because it’s the proper thing for a Muslim woman to do. But because I love Allah and want to feel closer to Him.
When Adena is asked about why she’s lesbian, her answer has nothing to do with sexual desires. She says that she likes what’s in a woman’s heart.
At first, I thought this was widely applicable. That everyone should fall for what’s in someone’s heart. But now I see there’s much more to that. There’s something particularly amazing about women. We are expected to be and have been the backbone of society for most, if not all of the time.
It’s hard to be a strong woman. Even harder to be a strong Black woman. Nearly impossible to be a strong Black, Muslim woman.
We have to deal with it all. Racism. Islamophobia. Sexism. It’s a never-ending battle between what we want to be and what society thinks we are or should be.
That’s why “The Bold Type” means everything to me. Adena is a free spirit. She doesn’t care what anyone wants her to be or do. She follows her heart. The best part is that she acknowledges how imperfect she is. She admits to praying only sometimes, claiming that some days it feels more important than others and sometimes she’s just lazy.
I relate to Adena so much. She is an honest, imperfect portrayal of a Muslim woman. I too am not perfect, but Adena makes me proud to be exactly who I am.
Here’s to real representation.