Beauty FEATURES Perspective

Raising the Standard of Beauty: The Exclusive with Neelam Hakeem

Raising the Standard of Beauty: The Exclusive with Neelam Hakeem

Ebony S. Muhammad (EM):  It is very apparent social media has a serious stronghold when it comes to promoting a message, creating a movement, and generating business especially for entrepreneurs. However, one very interesting element of social media is the power and attractive pull of imagery.  

You are actually tapping into all of the above elements through beautiful photos of yourself modeling modest attire on Instagram, which is an image-driven platform. 

Before we get into that, please share a little bit about yourself, your upbringing and how you became passionate about fashion and modeling?

Neelam Hakeem

Neelam Hakeem (NH): My name is Neelam Hakeem. I chose the name Neelam for myself at the age of 12 when my father came home one day and said that he’s converting from Christianity to Islam. He legally changed our last names from our slave name and gave me a choice to change my first name if I choose to convert as well. This showed me the power of choice, and that whatever change you make in a moment can define you for the rest of your life.

I picked one name from a list of holy/Muslim names based off how it looked to me and most of all its meaning (achiever, blue gem). That’s one name, one word. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then if I choose to present myself a certain way, I feel that I’m choosing to wear all of the beautiful names at once.

As far as my passion for fashion, I’ve always worked in retail and, like the typical girl, I like to dress nice for a good price. I always say you can’t buy style, so if you can make a great fit for cheap you got it. I’ve never considered myself a model, and honestly still don’t. In my opinion with the way social media is set up, everyone is kind of a model, at least on a good day.

 

EM: On April 1, 2017 you launched the rebranding your Instagram page to reflect the fashion side of yourself. What sparked the shift?

NH: I’ve always struggled with covering my hair and modest dress due to my love for cute hairstyles and clothes I used to feel was a must.  I thought that covering modestly took away from the “fashionable” looks I use to go for. My opinion drastically changed on #MuslimWomensDay.  On that day I looked through the hash tag becoming completely spellbound by the beautiful Muslim women and girls who slayed, modestly. It was at that moment that I decided to commit to modest fashion.  I also wanted to possibly be an example, like the women who inspired me, so I decided by Allah’s Grace to try to push and promote my modesty decision. I’ve received so much love by Allah’s Grace from Muslim and non-Muslim women around the world, and it inspired me to keep striving to continue. I now know modesty is real beauty!

EM: In my humble opinion, you have collided with a major domino effect of other Muslim women on social media promoting a genre of beauty that is being celebrated on major magazine covers. Halima Aden who was recently featured on Vogue and Allure Magazine as “The face of things to come”. Also Ibtihaj Muhammad, the Olympic fencer, who has been featured on various magazines and newspaper covers. Even Rihanna, who doesn’t profess to practice Islam but has been featured on the cover of Harper’s Bazzar wearing Muslim attire in one of her most beautiful photo shoots to date.

What does this surge in modest fashion, Muslim models and covering beautifully with style say about the direction of the standard of beauty that was once considered to reflect the complete opposite?

NH:  I feel that modest fashion has always been beautiful and an unstoppable force. I believe those at the top know that there is a huge growing market for this and ultimately want to control it so that they can profit off of it. The positive part is that this beautiful style is being presented more for women and girls to feel beautiful about them self through the representation.

On the flip side, those who ultimately control the market care only about money and will not hesitate to have us in modest fashion in spring and then convince us that we are liberated by taking it off in the summer time if its profitable. To me it’s more important that you stay true to yourself regardless of what the market is pushing.

EM:  Being a citizen in the Nation Of Islam and a student in the MGT-GCC (Muslim Girls Training & General Civilization Class), how has social media enabled you to connect with other Muslim women interested in modest fashion from all over the world? How have aspects of being a MGT opened ways to promote sisterhood? For example the collaboration you are doing with Ruma B.

Ruma B.

NH:  On #MuslimWomensDay I followed many Muslim women and girls who are and have been modest giants in the social media world. I was shocked by the love and support I received after I made the change on my page. Its beautiful, because it’s all becoming a growing family that constantly inspires you. That’s the crazy thing about social media. Most of these girls I’ve never met in my life (with exception of a few), but you feel like you know each other.

Being an MGT has taught me sisterhood with women outside of your blood. So when I talk with other Muslims and women of color, I talk to them as sisters. Thus @Rumastyles who lives Detroit and is Bengali running for Jet Set magazine, I support her and all Muslim women to the fullest. Being in the Nation teaches you about supporting each other. So my support for them and their brands allows them to realize there is no threat just love! Most of them have beautiful spirits to match their outside beauty.

EM:  The rise in Muslim women showcasing beauty and style is definitely getting the attention of the world, especially because it contradicts what the controlled media has projected of us. What do you see coming out of this shift? How do you see yourself contributing to what appears to be much bigger than an individual person but a world wide sisterhood and movement against the outright lies and the false beliefs that Islam oppresses its women and girls?

NH:  I believe the skies the limit. We are dynamic and intelligent, and contrary to what most people think, Islam liberates the God given talents of a woman. I believe we will see a Muslim woman become the “Beyonce” of singing, the “Denzel Washington” of acting,  an “Einstein”,  a “Barak Obama”, etc.

I’m just enjoying myself keeping my mind and spirit open to endless possibilities.

 

EM: What has been some of the feedback you’ve received online regarding your fashion style? What have the women who are not Muslim with you? Who are a few of your favorite modest models of all time and of present time?

NH:  The feedback has been a tremendous blessing. Different brands are constantly sending me items to style and promote. I’m featured on many brand and modest fashion pages, some with millions of followers. Best of all it is becoming profitable to promote for different companies. Some of my biggest surprises are the non-Muslim feedback. A county singer, Mickey Guyton,  who’s single is on the county charts, posted me as her WCW, which had me speechless. I’m getting brands that have nothing to do with Islam whose followers have been very sweet. Also, my old high school friends have been very supportive with my change.

Some of my favorite modest models are: Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, @feeeeya (Saufeeya Goodson) @chinutay  @Shahdbatal  @_enimsay (Yasmine Simone) @rumastyles @falieshagomezz  @marwaatik and @aaliyah.jm

EM: One thing I hear said among some women is the “If you got it, flaunt it” mentality.

The buzzwords we hear or read about are “liberated” or “free” or “independent” or “modern” or “feminist” and I’m sure there are more. How has society so wisely manipulated women, unbeknownst to them, into believing flaunting herself uncovered makes her independent and modern and a feminist?

NH:  I feel like what sad about it, is the way they make you look like if you are covered, as if you are oppressed or you aren’t free. They push that if you take your clothes off you’re free, and if you don’t take your clothes of your not free. That sounds pretty dictating. That’s dangerous for women and girls, because we often have insecurities. You want to be loved, pretty, noticed and admired. So the same people that dig on your insecurities and put up images that make you feel bad about yourself are the same people that come with the answer to liberate you. Liberation is not putting yourself out there for people to validate you. Liberation is a personal decision you make to yourself, where you can look at yourself in the mirror and be pleased with yourself the way you are.

 

EM: Many of our women and girls learn to base the standard of beauty on what is on TV. Also what their favorite hip-hop artists convey about women through their music and videos. What words would you like to share with women and girls who may believe they are beautiful or pretty only when uncovered? How would you address the subject of respect, self worth and self love to those who see women praised and glorified on “reality” shows?

NH:  If you feel that way it’s because of something external that is telling you that, and made you believe that lie about yourself. You are what you believe you are. Your physical makeup is beautiful, but you truly don’t know yourself if you think that’s all you got. What makes us superior over all of the living species on our planet is our mind. We can’t run as fast as a cheetah, or fly like a bird, but our mind is unparalleled. To limit yourself to your physical makeup is to restrict all of that which makes you most powerful.

“Reality” TV isn’t real. Even if it was, if you take a second and analyze the men those women attract as oppose to someone like Michelle Obama, you would see a big difference. The more you obtain knowledge of self and God, the higher your self esteem and self love will rise, and you will carry yourself as the magnificent being you are. You will also attract all the great things you deserve.

EM: Is there anything else you would like to add?

NH: A gift is best served wrapped! Stand out and don’t go with the norm. Did you know that Rihanna started following Muslim beauty blogger @sabinahannan. Mystery and virtue is attractive in a world that lets it all hang out.

EM: Yes ma’am! Beautiful words to live by! Thank you for sharing your journey with modesty and fashion with us! May Allah continue to bless you with great success. 

{Be sure to follow Neelam Hakeem on Instagram for more of her beautiful and modest fashion!}

Written By

Hurt2Healing

H2H Magazine is the ultimate lifestyle digital publication that has been described as inspiring, life-saving and cutting-edge. Known for it’s penetrating exclusive interviews, H2H holds to the principle that there are no subjects too heavy for discussion.
1 Comment
Sis Donna Muhammad August 31, 2017 at 7:25 pm Reply

I really enjoyed this article. Our sister is so beautiful! I’m going to pass on to my daughter some of the instragram accounts she referenced. I love her closing words “a gift is best served wrapped!”‘#CoveredGirlsRock #Modesty #WomwnWakingUo #WeAreTheMOSTFree

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