Malika Bilal is a broadcast journalist and the voice behind Al Jazeera’s podcast The Take. She is also a Chicagoan, new mother of twins, and an Haute Hijab superfan! With December being Customer Appreciation Month, we are showering our customers with gratitude and spotlighting women of all walks of life who proudly don their HH favorites and are part of a larger community of proud, strong Muslim women.
I spoke with Malika about her hijab journey, what sisterhood means to her (think the opposite of "Mean Girls" behavior), and what about HH makes her keep coming back.
Tell us about your journey to wearing hijab – how did you come to wear it, and what keeps you wearing it?
I have pictures of myself as a little girl in my makeshift hijabs fashioned from bandanas or way-too-big-for-me pieces of fabric. I cringe now at how awkward I looked, but I follow the cringe with an Alhamdulillah. I thought the hijab was beautiful and wanted to be just like my hijab-wearing mom and older sister.
I'm pleased and feel fortunate that I still think it's beautiful, only now I also feel like it's the ever-present reminder I need of my connection with my Creator, my faith and a greater community of women who've been doing the same for thousands of years.
How did you come to find Haute HIjab? What keeps you coming back?
I have to give credit to my younger sister Alia for this – she has always had her pulse on the newest modest fashion brands, and she's usually one of the first people I know to snag a new print or fabric. So, she introduced me to HH years ago. I've been a fan ever since – I love the colors, the feel and width of the jerseys and the prints that make me break out of my solid-color-scarves-only mode.
Do you have a favorite type of Haute hijab (chiffon, woven, jersey, etc) and if so, why?
Malika Bilal wears our Jersey in Sea Glass. Image source: Instagram
Haute Hijab Jerseys are my current fav – they wrap beautifully, stay put, and feel super soft and breathable.
Do you have a go-to hijab? Why is it your go-to?
I have several go-to hijabs that depend on the occasion. Right now, I wear a lot of black – I just had twins and have no time to play in my closet any more, so black is the easiest to throw on without a second thought. And because of that, I've been leaning towards my brightest hijabs to balance it all. So my Premium Jersey hijabs in Sage
and Sea Glass
have been in heavy rotation as has my Fearless Leopard Woven Print
because that brightens anything up.
Have you ever had a bad hijab day? If so, do tell us about it and how you managed it!
Occasionally a hijab just won't lay or twist or fold the way I want it to, or I'll start the day with my hijab one way and glance at my reflection midday to find my scarf has decided to do its own thing sans my permission. As long as I feel all the requisite parts are still being covered, I try not to get too frustrated. But there are times I'll change hijab styles, or switch out the scarf for another right before leaving out the door.
What’s your pet hijab peeve? What’s one of your pet peeves in general?
My biggest one is any article about hijab containing the words "behind" "beyond" or "under" the "veil." Insert eye roll here at this tired cliche.
What’s your favorite look for yourself? Do you like to dress up? Keep it casual?
I'm at a bit of a crossroads style-wise right now as a very new mom trying to figure out how to incorporate nursing and easy motherhood looks with my pre-babies fashion sense. But for my day job I often have to be in front of a camera, so I tend to fall on the dressier side of things.
What do you like to do in your free time? Tell us something fun or unusual about yourself!
Free time? I don't know her. Right now every minute is filled with all things baby, but I love international travel, so I'm looking forward to getting back out there, Insha’Allah... just now with two babies in tow.
Who do you look up to? Who’s your shero?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, being a new mom has given me a newfound appreciation for my own mother and my two sisters, who've juggled their careers and raising children, who have a strong sense of identity and faith. Beautifully. I'm blessed to have their example to look up to.
At HH, supporting our sisters, uplifting them, is at the core of what we do. What does sisterhood mean to you? How can we better support each other?
Sisterhood to me means remembering that there is always room at the table. Part of that is eschewing the Mean Girls “you can't sit with us” ethos. But another part is recognizing that another person's success doesn't detract from yours, and when one of us wins – if we remember to leave space for our sisters – all of us can win.
(Bonus question) – What’s your spirit fruit/vegetable, and why? This is something we always ask anyone who joins the HH team
Me and lemons will always be bff. My mouth is simultaneously watering and puckering just writing this sentence.