Aysha Harun Talks Authenticity and What It Means to Be an Influencer Who Wears a Hijab
Aysha Harun isn't your typical beauty and lifestyle influencer.
The L.A.-based creator started making content as a teenager, and seeing a lack of influencers online who looked like her—hijabi women of color—she decided to fill that niche and carve out her own authentic space in the social media sphere, showcasing her own life as a Black Muslim woman. Her nearly 300 thousand Instagram followers are proof of just how captivating her gorgeous lifestyle content can be, and that beauty isn't defined by the types of faces we see every day online.
(Photo credit: Brandon Lundby)
Aysha will also be one of the fabulous speakers at The BodCon TALKS: Beauty & Body Confidence running Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. ET. The virtual discussion will also feature influencers Tess Holliday, Boa the Drag Queen, Taj Reed, Alex Light, Chenese Lewis, Clarissa Thompson, Lilith Fury and Darius McKiver, and will include conversations about beauty and body confidence, and how those topics support as well as clash with each other. We got the chance to chat with Aysha about her work, as well as the upcoming conference, and here's what she had to say.
Sweety High: How long have you been passionate about creating beauty and lifestyle content? What inspired you to start sharing these talents on social media?
Aysha Harun: I've been creating content in the beauty and lifestyle space for over 10 years now. It started off as a summer passion project when I was 16 years old as I was really into makeup and fashion at the time. I noticed there was no one in the space who looked like me, a Black Muslim woman who wore the hijab, and I decided to fill that void myself.
SH: What type of audience do you hope to reach with your content, and what do you hope they learn from it?
AH: I hope to reach women who feel underrepresented in the media, whatever that may look like. A large majority of women who follow me are fellow Black Muslim women and I take great pride and honor in being able to act as a voice for them in the social media space and show us in a positive light. I hope my audience can learn that what you look like does not have to hold you back from taking up space. You can be authentically you and not conform to society's standard of beauty and still be successful at what you do.
SH: Did you ever feel like you might have a disadvantage in the social media space because you wear a hijab? Why or why not?
AH: Absolutely. The hijab is the first thing most people notice about me when viewing my content. Because I don't look like "the norm," naturally my content won't appeal to the masses. However, I never let that deter me from continuing to create the content that I loved. I never had any intentions of making it big in social media when I first started out and I was one of the first Black Muslim women in hijab creating beauty content on YouTube at the time, so it was all very new.
Over time, I stopped looking at it as a disadvantage and started looking at it as a unique differentiator. There are hundreds and thousands of online creators, and my hijab and my modesty set me apart. They make me who I am and force people to listen to what I have to say, rather than focus on other things. Although I may never gain millions of followers because of my niche content, I offer something that not many others do. I inspire women who look like me to be their authentic selves, proudly, and that will always be enough for me.
SH: What has it meant to show the world that you can wear a hijab and also be a successful beauty influencer?
AH: I think it has meant more to me personally than anything. I grew up worried that my hijab would prevent me from landing job opportunities and prevent me from being successful. Seeing how far I've come and how I've contributed to the industry by helping pave the way for other Black hijab-wearing women to successfully build careers as influencers has been very fulfilling. It also has been really special educating industry leaders, policymakers, brand owners and the like on how to work with diverse talent in today's space and really make a difference from the inside out.
SH: How do you defy the pressure to look a certain way, and define beauty in your own terms? Why is it so important for you to be able to help others understand that beauty isn't just defined one way?
AH: I don't allow that type of pressure to get to me. Especially as a modest-dressing woman, I dress the way I do because it connects me to my faith and reminds me of my purpose. If others choose to see beauty in my content then I welcome it, but if not there are plenty of other amazing creators to support instead. Beauty standards were written for us for centuries, but we're in a unique moment where we are defining these new standards. And the standards don't have any particular rule. It is to come as you are and own your unique beauty proudly. I can't begin to explain how powerful that is.
SH: How excited are you to be invited to speak at The BodCon TALKS: Beauty & Body Confidence? What perspective do you hope to bring to the table?
AH: I am really looking forward to speaking at The BodCon and I'm excited to share my unique insights and perspective with everyone. Modest fashion has always put slim women on the forefront and it's been a huge part of my mission to showcase curvy modest fashion on my pages. I hope to share more about what my journey to body confidence has looked like over the years including all of the internal struggles, hate comments, brand campaigns and how I've shared it all authentically through my social media.
For more on the discussion of beauty and body confidence, click HERE to read our wonderful interview with fellow The BodCon TALKS panelist Taj Reed.