Counter-Ad to Diesel's Affront to Muslim Women
Media Literacy Project was disturbed by Diesel’s ad (at the bottom of the page) featuring a white woman in a niqab with much of her body exposed and tattooed, reading, “I am not what I appear to be.” Yes, the ad affirmed that women in niqabs are diverse and interesting, but it also was an affront to Muslim women’s modesty with an exocitizing, orientalizing, and highly sexualized image. The image presented Muslim women's bodies as an object to be consumed by onlookers. It enticed people to look at Muslim women and wonder what’s beneath the clothes. This is the antithesis of what this everyday piece of clothing is intended to do, which is preserve women's modesty, show obedience to Islam, and take women out of the realm of objectification and sexualization. It took the power away from Muslim women to chose who sees their bodies and put the emphasis on their appearance.
We offer these counter-ads as a beacon of positivity about Muslim women’s modesty and power in an otherwise dreary, mass-media climate of objectification and sexualization of women. MLP collaborated with Afia Fitriati to create the text, “I don’t need to be naked to be free.” Afia lives in Indonesia and writes for Muslimah Media Watch, an organization that critiques images of Muslim women in media.
We first created a version of the ad that used the same image as the Diesel ad, but changed the text. We received feedback from the community that the image should be changed in order to avoid the same mistake the Diesel ad made, that of disregarding Muslim women's piety and modesty. We reached out to the muslimah community for image alternatives. Two students from Higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai took the challenge and created the images you see here. The first image was created by Aalaa Abdulbaset Albastaki and the second two images were created by Khulood Mohammed Nasser Saleh Alrahma. We are so proud of this multi-national collaboration to bring you images that help to present a different perspective about how Muslim women should be portrayed in the West.
Rather than making the woman in the advertisement an object to be looked at, we assert that taking one’s clothes off does not equal freedom. What about being free from objectifying and sexualizing gazes? The counter-ad is a deconstruction of the original Diesel ad and intended to start conversations about modesty, Islam, women, and the media. What do you have to say on the topic?