After Nike announced the launch of the 'Pro Hijab' line, many people attacked the sportswear giant, as discussions on what women can and cannot wear ensued.
But, Emirati weightlifter Amna Al Haddad wants the world to know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Nike catering to modest and hijab-wearing women. They aren't the first, nor the last.
Nike is the largest company to venture into the market, providing hijabi athletes with practical and professional sportswear with the establishment of the new line.
"From my perspective as a former athlete who competed in Hijab, in the past, the big brands didn’t see the need or market for it as it was not 'popular' and it was unheard of to see women train, exercise and compete in hijab," Haddad wrote in an Instagram post.
Haddad helped inspire the launch of the Pro Hijab line, after she struggled to find a hijab that would meet competition standards.
She points out that professional hijab-wearing athletes have been expressing their demands for proper sportswear for a long time. Nike is only responding to that increase in demand.
"We made it big in the news, we couldn’t be ignored," she wrote.
Haddad believes that hijabi athletes were once viewed as "the underdogs" in the sports industry. But that is no longer the case.
The Muslim athletes who competed in Rio Olympics 2016 were just another reminder that these women are here to stay.
"Without us athletes who fought for this right and made it happen, Nike wouldn’t 'just do it.'"
Nike will "meet market needs"
"As an innovative company, they will create products and they will meet market needs – whatever they may be. It is not dismissing any other hard work done in the past to develop sports hijabs, it’s just there is more competition in the market for modest clothing now."
The Pro Hijab line "will encourage a new generation of athletes"
"I support Muslim women with or without hijab, and how they dress is their choice. And with the Nike Sports Hijab, it surely will encourage a new generation of athletes to pursue sports professionally, and without us athletes who fought for this right and made it happen, Nike wouldn’t 'just do it.'"
"I am so proud of Nike Women for tapping deep into an unspoken issue that us female Middle Eastern sportswomen deal with in this beautiful video"
Earlier this year, Nike released a campaign showing off Arab women athletes in the most epic way possible.
The video featured Zahra Lari, the first Emirati figure skater, alongside Tunisian fencer and Olympics medalist Ines Boubakri, Emirati Parkour trainer Amal Mourad, Saudi singer Balqees Fathi and Jordanian boxer Arifa Bseiso.
Although Haddad was not featured in the sportswear giant's latest feat, she has been the face of Nike before.
Haddad appeared in a Nike advertisement back in 2016
"Five years ago, Amna Al Haddad was a young journalist in the United Arab Emirates with an unhealthy lifestyle," Nike wrote in the video caption at the time.
But, then one day she realized that she needed to make a change.
"One day I woke up and realized that I couldn’t continue living like that, so I took it upon myself to take much-needed action and go for a run. That was where it all began," Haddad told The National.