Nike unveils new performance hijabs for Muslim women athletes

Zila Sanchez

By Zila Sanchez, contributor

Nike recently announced they will be launching a new sport hijab for athletic Muslim women in the Nike Pro line.

Nike said it began developing the Pro Hijab after athletes like female weightlifter Amna Al Haddad complained about problems while competing in traditional head scarves. Although it is still under development, the final product is said to be released in Nike’s spring 2018 season, according to CNN.

The announcement was followed by a video campaign in the Middle East called, “What Will They Say About You?” – an empowering clip featuring Muslim and Arab women running, boxing, ice skating and boxing.

Nike said the product, like others in the company’s Pro line, has a breathable and lightweight mesh that makes it almost like a second skin. Still, the hijab will remain opaque to keep in line with modest values.

There have been mixed reviews about Nike’s new product. Protests like #BoycottNike have sparked in the wake of Nike’s announcement because some people feel as though Nike has taken away Muslim women’s choice to not wear head scarves and have forced them to be oppressed.

“Congratulations, @Nike for normalizing the oppression of women through the Pro Hijab. Disgusting,” Connor Kennedy tweeted.

There were similar reactions when other major companies like Dolce and Gabbana released Hijab collections in the past.

Others have criticized the company for being late to the inclusive athletic wear market, since it is not the first company to make sports hijabs. Companies like Asiya have already existed and make athletic products exclusively for modest wear.

Even so, there has been an overwhelming support for the company’s inclusion.

A spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Iraq, Sara al-Zawqari, shared her support via Twitter: “When an ad [referring to Nike’s video] touches on the insecurities of women in a society, digs deeper and becomes an empowerment tool rather than just a product #JustDoIt.”

The hijab has already been worn by Emirati figure skater, Zahra Lari.

“I was thrilled and a bit emotional to see Nike prototyping a Hijab,” Lari said, according to CNN. “I’ve tried so many different hijabs for performance, and … so few of them actually work for me. But once I put it on and took it for a spin on the ice, I was blown away by the fit and the light weight.”

“By providing Muslim athletes with the most groundbreaking products, like the Nike Pro Hijab, Nike aims to serve today’s pioneers as well as inspire even more women and girls in the region who still face barriers and limited access to sport,” Nike said in a statement, according to CNBC.

Twitter & Instagram: @SeriouslyZila