Donna Badon interviewed by The Fashionography
The Muslim-Canadian model Donna Bahdon is changing attitudes about how fashion and religion can co-exist in today’s world. Interview by Alexei Key, photography by Sam Gold, styling by Sabrina Dee and beauty by Timothy Aylward.
When I was younger, my family home was where the women in my family would come and get ready for any big day: a wedding, a bridal shower or any cultural festivity. I loved watching the process of them getting ready. The ambiance, the conversation, the laughter, the jewelry, hair and makeup—all of it was so beautiful, and it’s definitely something I want to carry on as well.
I was born and raised in Canada as a Muslim-Canadian, and I grew up in predominantly French-Canadian communities. My parents emigrated to Canada from Djibouti in the late ’80s/early ’90s, and they settled in Montreal before moving to Ottawa. Growing up, I was always surrounded by my family and all my relatives and there was always a sense of belonging. As Muslims, from an early age, my parents taught my siblings and I to respect and understand the importance of virtue, and to carry that with us wherever we go and onto whatever we decide to tackle.
There isn’t one single moment that solely shaped me to be who I am, but 2010 was a pivotal year for me. When I was 15 years old, my father, brother and I travelled to the Emirates for the first time. During the year we spent there, I embarked on a journey I didn’t know would change my life so much. It was definitely a huge shift in perspective and culture clash. Though the country is a Muslim country, the people hold a different culture, and navigating that as a young Black Djiboutian-Canadian was at times challenging. It felt like a whole new world, none of which I was prepared for at 15.
I was first introduced to the concept of Hijab in my mid-teens, but I only understood its meaning and virtue in my 20s. I wear the Hijab because it completes me, and it is an everyday reminder that I choose to represent my faith, my strength and, most importantly, myself. That’s not to say that it is not challenging, indeed it is, but when I choose to wear it every day, I also choose my strength.
The Hijab is not new to fashion. There are a multitude of ways women wear the Hijab around the globe and express themselves in it. It’s the concept of the Hijab that is new to mainstream fashion, and the best way to approach it is to truly understand it for what it is. Stylists, creative designers and the industry at large must first understand that the Hijab is not a mere accessory; in styling, it comes first. This way, when creating with Hijab-wearing models, their modesty, their Hijab, their humanness precedes any “trend.” I think that’s what sets apart models being used as a token to real inclusive work.
read the full interview here!
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