Ibtihaj Muhammad Doesn't Need Permission to be Great— She Is Great
Jul 25, 2018
"One piece of advice I have for young women is you don't need permission to be great," Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first woman to wear a hijab while competing for Team USA, tells MAKERS. "Go out there, be a badass and do your thing."
Easy for you to say Ibtihaj! Is there anything the historyMAKER can't do? She already wore a hijab while fencing in the Olympics, fought and won an Olympic medal (and the first female Muslim American to do so), inspired the first hijab-wearing barbie, was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People.
And now she's releasing a memoir detailing her journey to Olympic greatness fraught with discrimination of her race, gender, and religion called "Proud: My Fight to An Unlikely American Dream."
Growing up in New Jersey, playing the usual everyday sports was difficult for Muhammad. Not because of the physical or competitive level, but because of the lack of versatility of the sports uniforms. Muhammad mentioned in a interview with NBC, fencing was the only sport that was able to fit into her lifestyle and religion.
Only after graduating from Duke University did she decide to pursue fencing full-time. Being one of the few minority women in the sport of fencing, there were numerous obstacles to overcome. "I want to compete in the Olympics for the United States to prove that nothing should hinder anyone from reaching their goals — not race, religion, or gender," Muhammad expressed to TeamUSA.org.
Not only is Muhammad breaking barriers in the sports world, but she is crushing the fashion world. She has her own clothing line called Louella by Ibtihaj Muhammad, which is catered to women of Muslim faith.
She mentioned what is most important to her was being able to create a line that is modest, fashionable, but above all, reasonably priced. Take a look below at some of Louella's chic pieces:
And now, Ibtihaj is raising her voice to call out injustice and discrimination and empower young women. "We have so many people before us who chose to speak out and cause a stir and to say this isn't right. We are deserving to have a seat at the table as women, as women of color, as religious minorities. I just think we owe it to the women behind us," Muhammad said at the 2017 MAKERS Conference.
I was just asked to remove my hijab at SXSW Registration for my ID badge.. I can't make this stuff up #SXSW2016— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) March 12, 2016
This isn't the America that I know and it isn't the America that the world looks to for inspiration and leadership. But, I have faith in our ability to fight bigotry with love and draw our strength from diversity 🇺🇸 #July4th#NoMuslimBanEver#FamiliesBelongTogetherpic.twitter.com/zEfFplY1ea— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) July 4, 2018
Watch Ibtihaj Muhammad and Gabby Douglas talk about competing as minorities for Team USA and overcoming discrimination at the 2017 MAKERS Conference here.
Photo Credit: Devin Manky/Getty Images