Beauty wasn't something my mom and I talked about when I was younger. She always said, "Halima, don't be concerned with makeup. Worry about what's underneath." She didn't understand why I loved cosmetics because she didn't grow up in a place where it was accepted. The idea of Muslim women wearing makeup—it's not the same today as it was 20 years ago for my mom, who grew up in Somalia.
But things are starting to change. If you go to places in the Middle East, or any predominately Muslim country, you're going to see a lot of women wearing the hiijab and a full-beat face. I mean, contour, blush, and everything! It's our way of feeling feminine. But there's still a misconception that if you wear the hijab, you don't care about your appearance. I wear one because it makes me feel comfortable and confident, but I love experimenting and dong the most with my makeup. Society needs to understand that just because a woman is wearing the hijab does not mean she's all of a sudden losing her femininity.
I look at little girls now and think they're so lucky! It wasn't too long ago that I'd flip through fashion magazines and not be able to find a woman wearing a hijab or even a woman of color who looked like me. Now it's not unusual or uncommon. Plus, these girls are living in a time with YouTube to educate them about makeup. And there are brands like Uoma, with more than 50 foundation shades. We didn't have that at all. There was a time when I couldn't even find my foundation shade. The continual progression in the beauty industry is what I love to see.
That said, it's important to remember confidence is something that shines from within. It's not about spending a lot of money on makeup to make yourself feel good. Doing the work to make sure you're internally as flawless, on point, and on fleek as you're looking on the outside is the secret. That's what is going to stay with you forever.
This article appears in the March 2020 issue of Marie Claire.