The first X to do Y, where X represents a hijabi and Y represents a Miss Minnesota contestant

We continue with the “first hijabi to do X” trope, which doesn’t celebrate Muslim achievements so much as the wearing of a garment that symbolizes misogyny and female oppression. One sees little approbation for the achievements of Muslim women themselves, which in times like these should be applauded; one sees instead approbation for only those women who wear The Scarf. And this time it’s a double whammy: we see a “historic” achievement of wearing both a hijab and a burkini—by a Muslim contestant in a beauty pageant. The touting, of course, is loudest in the Huffington Post; click on the screenshot to see the article:


PuffHo’s puffery:

Halima Aden advanced to the semifinals in this weekend’s Miss Minnesota USA pageant, becoming the first-ever contestant in the competition to wear a hijab and burkini.

The 19-year-old Somali-American teen from St. Cloud, Minnesota, wore a hijab throughout the pageant’s entire competition, which included rounds devoted to evening gowns and bathing suits. The pageant’s announcer said Aden was “making history” as she took to the stage wearing a burkini.

Earlier this month, Aden spoke with The Huffington Post about the upcoming competition, and how she hoped her presence in the pageant would serve as an inspiration for Muslim and Somali girls.

“Not seeing women that look like you in media in general and especially in beauty competitions sends the message that you’re not beautiful or you have to change the way you look to be considered beautiful,” Aden said. “And that’s not true.”

But wait! Isn’t the hijab supposed to be there to prevent men from noticing your beauty? Why wear that, as well as the body-covering burkini, in a beauty pageant? Shouldn’t hijabis avoid these pageants—in which women are paraded around like so many cattle before the prying eyes of men—like the plague? As Aden said in a short video piece at PuffHo, “For me to compete, it’s like opening doors for so many girls.” But what kind of doors? Doors to be noticed as beautiful? Well, that’s just what the hijab is supposed to prevent.

The whole notion of “beauty pageants” repels me, but doubly so when the women participating are wearing clothes to make them not be noticed as beautiful.

Here’s a tw**t showing the “big cheers” given to Aden. When I saw this, and heard the self-congratulatory clapping that often comes from regressives, I immediately thought of this couplet: a play on the last two lines of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s famous poem “Spring and Fall“:

Think about the women that you laud, for
It’s really yourself that you applaud for.


  1. Kevin
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Mo is turned in his grave. The lurid temptations of man are flaunted by this display.

    I offer a new definition of hijab: a winless situation.

  2. Posted November 29, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Just put them all in bags and randomly choose “the most beautiful”.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 29, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink



    • Posted November 29, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  3. jaxkayaker
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Regardless of garb, such an event seems inherently immodest. Personally, I don’t care about such things as modesty, but it seems to me to violate the spirit of the rule while honoring the letter.

    I also dislike beauty pageants generally. A strip club is at least more honest about what is valued. The pageants give a fig leaf, but not a fig, for intellectual achievement.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 29, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink


      “A strip club is at least more honest about what is valued.”

      This is why I find the Playboy Mansion thing on TV rather pointless and pathetic. If you’re gonna do porn, then *do* porn, don’t tiptoe interminably round the edge.


  4. Robin
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    The concept of ‘beauty pageants’ is so archaic in the first place, a throw back to even more archaic religious restrictions seems somehow appropriate. Sometimes the obscenely ridiculous simply self-escalates.

  5. Larry Cook
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Since you find beauty contests repulsive, I hope you don’t banish me from this site when you find out I was a runner-up in a beauty pageant in Atlantic City in 1969 before i matriculated to the University of Maryland. I was a minor celebrity there; as a freshman I was introduced as the first male beauty pageant runner-up in history during halftime of a game played by the greatest freshman basketball team to ever take the floor. If you were there in the fall of 1970, you must remember it. That was history and I did it without the benefit of wearing regressive or repressive apparel of any sort.

    • Posted November 29, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Nah, you get a pass, especially because you weren’t wearing either scanty or religious garb!

      • Larry Cook
        Posted November 29, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. Nobody wants to see me in scanty garb and I wouldn’t be caught dead in anything religious. Then again, how would I know?
        Congratulations on your retirement. I’m sure you’ll stay as busy as ever, but I hope it gives you opportunities to do things you never had time for. That’s what retirement has done for me.

  6. nicky
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I hope that ‘Somali’ girls would rather admire the real courage of an Ayaan Hishi Ali, than the fake ‘courage’ of Aden.
    I support the rather negative comments about ‘beauty pageants’. Even to many old lechers they appear not really as should be.
    The old lecher Trump would, of course, disagree. (Free market = meat market and the like).

    • Willard Bolinger
      Posted November 29, 2016 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      Trump was proud that since he owned the pageant that he could just walk in on young beauty contestant some undressed. It was his right because he was the Boss!

      • nicky
        Posted November 29, 2016 at 10:31 pm | Permalink


  7. Scote
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    **Way*** too much praise for the hajib as virtue signifier for Muslim women, all while ignoring Muslim women who’ve already not only competed in such contests but actually won.

    “Rima Fakih (Arabic: ريما فقيه‎‎) (born September 22, 1985) is a Lebanese-American actress, model, professional wrestler and beauty pageant titleholder who won Miss USA 2010. She represented the state of Michigan in the national pageant, having previously won the 2010 Miss Michigan USA pageant. ”

    (She has since converted to Maronite Christianity as of April this year, according to the Wiki.)

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 29, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      *Very* attractive woman. You can tell, because she’s not wearing a hijab.

      But then she’s Lebanese, and everybody knows the Lebanese aren’t True Muslims. 😉


      • Posted November 29, 2016 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        I’ve heard that she received threats because of her participation.

  8. eric
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    The whole notion of “beauty pageants” repels me, but doubly so when the women participating are wearing clothes to make them not be noticed as beautiful.

    I somewhat agree (though ‘repel’ is a more forceful word than what I feel about them). However, I think the absurdity of a woman entering a beauty contest and wearing clothes specifically intended to prevent onlookers from seeing what her body looks like is amusing.

    I think this entry highlights the ridiculousness of the whole concept of the pageant. So perhaps its a good thing; such entries will either force pageants to acknowledge that yes, all this personality and talent stuff is just window dressing that ultimately doesn’t matter as much as looks, or it may do the reverse, and cause them to stop judging women on their bodies. Either result is frankly pretty good.

    Frankly I can’t wait until the some other woman enters a beauty pageant wearing a full burkha. Bring on even more absurdity in beauty pageants. 🙂

  9. barn owl
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    From National Programming for Regressives, here’s the trope where Y = anchoring a major nightly newscast in Canada:

    I was rolling my eyes so much at Ms. Massa’s self-congratulatory preening, that I almost had to pull the car over and stop.

    • Scote
      Posted November 29, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      This seems about as virtuous as wearing a Trilby hat. Head coverings are not a virtue.

      From the link:

      “Ginella Massa is the first person to wear a hijab, the traditional head covering worn by Muslim women, and anchor a major nightly newscast in Canada.”

      I’d say “worn by **some** Muslim women” – the news reports seem to give the false impression that only women who wear hijabs are real Muslima.

  10. Andrew
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    After freeing itself of the useless woman underneath, Hijab became the first headscarf to win an American pageant competition. “I just kind of noticed that the only reason anyone was paying attention to my owner was because I was tightly wrapped around her head, and thought, ‘fuck it, what do I need her for anyway?’” Hijab hopes that by discarding herself of the inconsequential person underneath she can inspire other Hijabs to depart from their owners, whose heads only seemed to provide a structure for the very important piece of cloth that acts as an identifying marker for obedience, chastity and morality.

    Progressives were ecstatic over the Hijab’s victory and hardly seemed to notice the complete lack of a human being underneath. “It’s not the person that matters, it’s her identity. And her identity can fully exist without an individual host. It truly is a victory for Muslimness everywhere!”

    • Posted November 29, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink


    • nicky
      Posted November 29, 2016 at 10:42 pm | Permalink


    • Scote
      Posted November 29, 2016 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

      Perfect 🙂

      The headlines are all about the first Hajib-wearing newscaster. They don’t mention Ginella Massa’s name in the headlines. They are celebrating the virtue of the Hajib rather than Ginella Massa’s skills as a newscaster.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted November 30, 2016 at 4:43 am | Permalink

      Brilliant – do you write for the Grauniad?

    • somer
      Posted November 30, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink


  11. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    A couple of decades ago, this would have been a stunt by militant feminists trying to subvert the whole concept of beauty pageants, a.k.a. ‘taking the piss’.

    If Miss Hijab scored any points for the ‘swimsuit’ segment, it would also be an insult to all the other contestants who take the whole competition (swimsuit included) seriously. Turning up to a swimsuit contest in a burkini is, in effect, a ‘no-show’.

    It’s as ridiculous as turning up to a mosque in a bikini would be.

    (Personally, I think beauty contests are silly, but then I think American football and Morris dancing and thousands of other occupations are silly too. But the participants in the event are entitled to have it taken seriously).


  12. Posted November 29, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    The event shows once again that in the West, Muslim garb has little (if anything) to do with modesty, and everything to do with politics. The message is, “We are here to stay.”

    • nicky
      Posted November 29, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

      Would that statement not make you a valued addition to the struthious SPLC list?

      • Posted November 30, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        I’d wish such an honor, as I’d wish to publish in the journals Prof. Coyne wants us to boycott (Science, Nature & Cell). But no hope to qualify for either :-).

  13. ToddP
    Posted November 30, 2016 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    The latest chapter in PuffHo’s ongoing saga: Rearranging Furniture With An Elephant In The Room.

  14. somer
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Its one thing to protest specifically anti muslim policies of trump but non muslim donning an oppressive garb to make the point is not a good idea.

    By a black Muslim Arab based in Washington:

    “”I do not exaggerate when I say that any young woman forced to wear a hijab against her will has the right to become afflicted with the disease of ‘Islamophobia,’ and any child has the right to fear Islam if his parents forced him to pray and frightened him using tales of ‘the Bald Serpent'[6] and eternal torment in hell if he neglects his prayers. All those who expressed their opinion on Islam and paid the price for it, such as intellectual Farag Foda[7] and Mahmoud Mohammed Taha[8] … or anyone who was or still is at risk, such as Salman Rushdie, Islam Al-Buhairi,[9] Hamza Kashgari,[10] Turki Al-Hamad,[11] Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd,[12] Fatma Naout,[13] Maajid Nawaz,[14] and many others, have the right to be Islamophobic, since their lives are in the balance. “

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