Nike Announces New "Pro Hijab" Line
American sportswear giant, Nike, just announced the “Pro Hijab”. The “Pro Hijab” is a head covering made of lightweight, stretchy polyester that the company says will allow hijab--wearing Muslim women to compete without headscarves that sometimes hurt their performances. The hijabs will go on sale next spring and are expected to cost around $35.
The announcement only escalates Nike’s ongoing expansion into Middle Eastern markets and boosts a broader push for inclusion and representation in athletics. Its release also comes at a politically sensitive time for many US companies, where products and ads featuring Muslims are seen as a political statement directed against the Trump administration, even if they don’t mention politics.
Although the company received some negative backlash after the announcement, Nike didn’t frame its line of the new hijab in any political terms. Still, many commentators are calling it a game-changer for directing attention and giving voices to Muslim women who have been kept out of sports due to social stigmas and regulations against wearing a hijab while competing.
Several athletes, including Zahra Lari, a figure skater from the United Arab Emirates and Olympic hopeful, have already tested the hijab. “I was thrilled and a bit emotional to see Nike prototyping a hijab,” said Lari to The Christian Science Monitor. “I’ve tried so many different hijabs for performances, 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.”
Nike-sponsored Olympic weightlifter Amna Al Haddad from the United Arab Emirates helped inspire the company to develop the hijab after she had difficulty finding a head covering that was comfortable and would adhere to competition standards, according to the New York Times.
Nike’s line pushes the conversation on representation in sports and an increased acceptance of the inclusion of all women in sports.